Dining & Wine

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month: Blue Hat Bakery-Café & Bistro Chef Lian Cosby

May 6, 2024

We’re celebrating Asian Heritage Month by profiling some of our favourite professionals in Vancouver’s restaurant and food industry, like Blue Hat and PICA head chef Lian Cosby. 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?

I attended culinary school in Montreal and after graduating I was determined to learn from the best in the city. I continued to work the next 6 years at notable hotels and restaurants throughout Montreal. Eventually, after a lot of hard work, I ventured over to France and worked under two and three Michelin-star chefs. After being away from my native Vancouver for almost, I moved home and was later introduced to Chef Alex Chen. Having been exposed to the French culture and haute cuisine for so many years, I was happy to be back home learning about and re-introducing the flavours of my childhood into my cooking. Chef Alex taught me a lot about umami, taste and balance and he continues to be a huge influence and mentor to me.

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?

Curiosity inspires me. Living and traveling abroad led me to discover cooking. I love learning about different spices and herbs, and I thrive when I’m experimenting with the different flavours. My cooking style is always a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Being of mixed heritage I’m grateful to have so many cultural influences. My mother comes from a large Chinese and Filipino family. Through family marriages, my uncles, aunts and cousins are all from different ethnicities, from Taiwanese, Japanese, Burmese andHawaiian-Japanese. This intersection of cultures made our family gatherings full diverse and delicious foods. 

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

Growing up our family gatherings always involved food. Potluck dinners were how we celebrated birthdays, holidays and at other times just to get the family together. My mother and aunties would cook up a storm all afternoon with each making their families’ favourite dishes representing different Asian ethnicities: from sticky sweet black bean spareribs to crispy spring rolls; curried shrimp noodles and stewed Chinese mushrooms in oyster sauce to and pork adobo. My eyes would always be bigger than my stomach and I would love to pile all the different dishes onto to my plate in amazement at the variety and different flavours on our family dinner table. I am influenced by the conviviality of the potluck gathering – the palate of colours, flavours, and different ingredients from an array of cultures. I especially love fermented flavours such as dried squid, fish and shrimp. 

Vancouver is known for its diverse culinary scene. How do you navigate blending traditional Asian flavours with contemporary techniques to create innovative and unique dishes that resonate with diners?

The fusion of flavours and ingredients has always come naturally to me. I enjoy taking flavours from Asian ingredients and applying French techniques. I especially love the readily available ethnic foods in the markets. It is such a privilege to be able to dine in a city with such diversity. For me there’s always seems to be fresh inspirations to draw from.

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?

I would encourage people to step outside their comfort zone and try something new. I find such joy in sharing food with others and discovering new flavours. Sharing food with your family and even strangers allow you to tell a story and give someone an experience. Being able to have access to such a cultural mosaic of ingredients and markets in this city has allowed me to fuse flavours from my childhood and bring memories to my table today.

My Favourite Potluck

Steamed B.C. Line Caught Pacific Ling Cod with Ginger, Chili Crunch Green Beans & Tofu Congee Dumplings

For the Ling Cod

1 lb      Pacific ling cod, divided into equal 4 portions
2 Tbsp  ginger, skin removed and thinly sliced into batons
            salt & pepper

For the Chili Green Beans 

1 lb       green beans (yard long beans* if available), cut into 2” pieces
200ml chilli oil
2 Tbsp  fermented shrimp paste*
1 Tbsp  shredded dried scallops*

For the Dumplings

4          dumpling wrappers
4 oz      soft tofu
2 Tbsp cooking oil (such as canola, grapeseed, peanut, etc)
1tsp     shallot, minced
2 Tbsp  garlic
1 Tbsp  green onion (sliced in thin rounds, green and white)
1 tbsp   Jasmine rice
4           dried Shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
1 cup   chicken stock
1          banana leaf


1 large bamboo steamer

Method for Dumpling

Heat up a wok or large fry pan until almost smoking, then swirl in the oil. Add the shallots and garlic. Sauté until golden taking care not to burn. Turn heat down to low and add chicken stock, rice and dried shitake mushrooms. Simmer on low until all the all the liquid has evaporated and the rice is breaking apart. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to cool. Once cooled, remove shiitake mushroom. Cut off stems and discard. Slice mushroom into thin pieces. Then return to mixture. In a medium bowl, mash tofu with a fork, then add in the wok mixture along with green onions. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and keep warm.

Method for Fish & Green Beans

In a small bowl add chilli oil, fermented shrimp and shredded scallops. Set aside. Put banana leaf into the bamboo steamer. Then place in the steamer and put into a pan filled with at least 1” of water. Season fish with salt and pepper. Place into the steamer on one side. Lay batons of ginger on fish, Place beans on other side of the steamer next to the fish. Set timer for 3.5 minutes. Remove fish onto a resting tray. Remove beans and toss in small bowl with the fermented chilli mix. Toss well. In a small pot boil water and cook dumpling wrapper for 45 second. Remove with slotted spoon and place on resting tray.


Place fish on side of plate, scoop a tablespoon of tofu congee mix on plate and drop dumpling wrapper on top. Toss beans in bowl, and place on the side of the plate.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


get social


get more out of


Want the best, curated headlines and trends on the fly?

get more out of vita

Sign up for one, or sign up for all!