Ian Lai has been in the hospitality industry since 1979 and has worked as Chef for the Four Seasons Hotel, The Sheraton Hotel, Cara Flight Kitchen, as well as holding the post of Resident Chef for the Consulate General of the United States of America. His interest then shifted to focus on education, leading to his current role as consultant and Chef Instructor at the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver.
In 2006, Ian Lai founded the Richmond Schoolyard Society, a non-profit school community garden project designed to connect children with the food they eat and raise awareness of health and nutrition. Starting off as just a small garden, the Schoolyard Society now expands to over 5,000 square feet and is located in schools across Richmond, British Columbia.
There are over 1,500 students that learn the food cycle from seed to table. From the Richmond Schoolyard Society website, “Our mission is to bring children into the outdoor classroom where they connect with the earth and their community. Our vision can be summed up in a simple equation: kids + gardens + healthy food = stronger communities.”
In addition to the Richmond Schoolyard Society, Ian Lai is the principal of Urban Agriculture Consulting. He contracts to the City of Richmond and City of Delta for environmental services, teaches classes related to food security with the David Suzuki Foundation’s SeaChoice – Canada’s Sustainable Seafood Program, and works with the Vancouver Food Bank’s Fresh Choice Kitchen.