Dining & Wine

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month: Glowbal Restaurant Executive Chef Robert Lee

May 4, 2024

We’re celebrating Asian Heritage Month by profiling some of our favourite professionals in Vancouver’s restaurant and food industry, like Glowbal Restaurant executive chef Robert Lee. Oh, and their favourite recipes, too!  —Vita Daily

Can you share a bit about your personal journey as a chef and how your Asian heritage has influenced your culinary style and approach to cooking?

This year marks my tenth year in the professional culinary world. I’m incredibly grateful for the talented chefs I’ve had the privilege of working with from different cultural backgrounds. Their influence has played a significant role in shaping my personal culinary style today. However, my journey as a chef has been profoundly shaped by my Asian heritage, which has influenced my culinary style and approach to cooking. Growing up in a household where food was central to family gatherings, I developed a deep appreciation for the flavors, techniques, and traditions of Asian cuisine. Inspired by this upbringing, I incorporate traditional ingredients, spices, and cooking methods into my cooking, creating dishes that reflect a fusion of tradition and innovation. Furthermore, my Asian heritage has instilled in me a reverence for the cultural significance of food and its ability to bring people together.

What inspired you to pursue a career in the culinary arts, and how have your cultural roots shaped your culinary identity and the dishes you create?

My most significant source of inspiration has been my grandmother. She instilled in me a deep appreciation for cooking and a profound respect for the ingredients we use. This appreciation was cultivated during my time spent at her small street food stall in Jiayi, Taiwan. Furthermore, my Asian cultural roots have played a pivotal role in shaping my culinary identity and the dishes I create. From the meticulous selection of fresh produce to the balancing of flavors, I try to create dishes that reflect the diverse and vibrant tapestry of Asian cuisine. This fusion of tradition and innovation not only pays homage to my cultural heritage but also allows me to create unique culinary experiences that resonate with authenticity and flavor.

In what ways do you incorporate elements of your cultural background into your culinary creations? Are there specific ingredients, techniques, or flavors that hold particular significance for you?

I integrate aspects of my cultural heritage into my culinary creations by drawing inspiration from traditional ingredients and flavors, particularly those ingrained in me from childhood. One such essential ingredient is the shacha sauce featured in this recipe, which holds a special place in my culinary repertoire. Originating from fond memories of family barbecues, where my grandfather expertly used it to marinate various dishes, I’ve adapted its use to enhance this squid dish. In Vancouver’s diverse culinary scene, blending traditional Asian flavors with contemporary techniques involves understanding each flavour profile. I experiment with modern methods and presentation to give classic dishes a fresh twist, by fusing elements from different Asian cuisines. By constantly seeking inspiration and aiming to delight diners, I try to create dishes that honour my personal experience while appealing to modern tastes.

As we celebrate Asian Heritage Month, what message or story do you hope to convey through your cuisine, and how do you see food as a powerful medium for cultural expression and understanding?

Asian Heritage Month provides a platform to share the complexity of Asian culture through cuisine. Through my dishes, I aim to convey the message of passion, memories, and diversity. Food serves as a powerful medium for cultural expression and understanding, transcending barriers, and fostering appreciation for Asian culture. Let’s celebrate the diversity of Asian cuisine, bridge cultural divides, and find common ground through the shared experience of a meal.

Shacha Barbecue Squid

1 Tube Squid


1½T Mirin
2T Soy Sauce
1½T Soy Sauce Paste
2T Shacha Sauce
1T Ketchup
2 Cloves Garlic Grated
1T Grated Ginger
2T Cilantro (Finely Chopped)
2T Scallion (Finely Chopped)
1T Sugar
2T Sesame Oil


1/3 C Marinade
2T Vinegar
2t Sesame Oil
5 Slices Watermelon Radish
½ C Taiwanese Cabbage (Thinly Sliced)
1T Crushed Peanut

Cut open the squid tube and split it in half. Make slanted cross marks on the inside of the tube then cut it into three sections. Set aside in the fridge then make the marinade. Combine and mix all the ingredients together then add grated garlic, ginger, chopped cilantro and chopped scallion. Marinate the scored squid with just enough marinade to cover. Save 1/3 C of the marinade to make a dressing with rice vinegar and more sesame oil. Slice watermelon radish on a mandoline slicer and soak it in ice water to keep it crisp. Grill the squid until it turns from opaque to white. Be careful not to over cook it because it can turn rubbery. On the plate, layer the watermelon radish on the base of the plate then place on the sliced cabbage and grilled squid. Drizzle on the dressing and finish with crushed peanuts.


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