Hector Laguna joins Botanist as Restaurant Executive Chef
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Laguna grew up surrounded by food, and his love for cooking first sparked while helping his mother in their family kitchen in Hidalgo, Mexico. Laguna has been cooking for as long as he can remember, and began perfecting handmade tortillas at a young age, sealed with his mother’s approval. His love for cooking has always been built on the foundation of bringing friends and family around the table, bounded by a shared passion for great food and good conversation.
His culinary career spans over a decade cooking in kitchens across North America’s top foodie destinations including San Francisco, Miami, Toronto and Vancouver.
He began to pursue cooking professionally in 2000 when he moved from small-town Mexico to the Golden State, and worked up the culinary ranks at Three Seasons Restaurant in San Francisco. Over the next six years, Laguna honed his skills in global flavours, adding Vietnamese and Asian cuisine to his repertoire. It was there in the heart of San Francisco where he met and married his wife, Joelle.
Laguna moved to Miami in 2007, under the mentorship of renowned James Beard award recipient, Chef Michelle Bernsten, at Michy’s in Miami. As her sous chef, he took on the role of developing the seasonal menus for this signature dining hot spot. Working with revolving in-season ingredients, he produced inventive dishes that kept true to the ingredient’s original flavour by enhancing each items natural flavour, mastering techniques that would allow the ingredients strengths to shine through in each dish.
It was during his time at Michy’s that led to an extraordinary invite to cook under Bernstein at the prestigious James Beard House for a sold out restaurant; four adrenaline-packed courses later, it was an hounourable cooking performance for the duo, and one that Laguna will remember for this rest of his culinary career.
In 2011, Laguna made his Canadian debut in Toronto, working at Lee Restaurant, where he gained exceptional experience under Chef Susur Lee, blending traditional Chinese and French techniques. Another stop in Toronto brought him to Nota Bene with Chef David Lee; a culinary program built on well executed techniques with quality local ingredients.
Laguna got his first taste of Vancouver in 2012 when he visited family while on vacation; he knew he was destined to return, and now calls it “home” with Joelle and their two-year old son, Lucas. Recently as the Senior Sous Chef at Hawksworth restaurant in Vancouver, Hector joins the team at the highly anticipated Botanist restaurant as the Executive Chef.
“I believe that food influences us emotionally; it can comfort, calm, satisfy and bring joy, all in one meal,” comments Hector Laguna, Restaurant Executive Chef. “It’s about watching someone take their first bite, and know that I’ve made their day even a little bit better, and I look forward to bringing that to the plate at the Botanist.
When not in the kitchen, Hector can be found enjoying quality time with his family, whether playing soccer at the park, visiting the library, cooking for his friends and family, and creating new family traditions around the dinner table.
For more information about Botanist, please visit www.botanistrestaurant.com.