Alex Wong was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, and has Chinese and Vietnamese heritage. He moved to western Sydney as a young teenager, where he further developed his love of food and cooking, admitting it was a big part of his life.
“I always had a love for Italian food as my best friend in school was Italian so I was often at his Grandmother’s house after school, eating pasta Napoletana. I started cheffing because I hated school and studying and I needed money so I found an apprenticeship and never looked back.”
He is now the executive chef at Lana, which is a mix of contemporary dining with an Italian lean, as well as a lot of Asian influence. Wong said it has a major focus on Australian produce, and the use of seafood in its service. Wong wants the guest’s experience to be fun and interactive, and that the concept is as unique as its cuisine.
“The food at Lana is designed to be shared, with lots of snacks that should be eaten by hand. Share-style is the best way to eat in my opinion. Australia is a mixing pot of cultures and that’s reflected in our cuisine.”
Wong also stated that he draws on his life growing up in Sydney as his career for inspiration, and that he likes to take his lead from seasonal Australian produce.
As with many industries, Wong noted that staff shortages are an issue crippling the hospitality and restaurant sectors currently.
“With plenty of big restaurants opening all the time, I feel there is still a lack of skilled workers both front and back of house. Also, with inflation increasing, the cost of produce seems to keep increasing yearly, but it’s hard to put the price of dishes up as we still want to offer an affordable dining experience to our guests.”
He also added that for anyone wanting to enter the hospitality industry, they will need to push themselves in order to show passion and interest. He also said that asking questions, and not giving up just because you’ve had a bad day are important things to remember.
Wong said that opening Lana was one of his career highlights, as two was his award-winning work as a sous chef under Daniel Mulligan. His goals for the future remain focused on growing into a higher management role, and he hopes to one day open his own wine bar and trattoria.