Find Your True North

Lan Thai


Lan Thai’s food creations are as vibrant as the cultures that inspire it. Her parents, who were forced to leave Vietnam because of the war, settled in a Thailand refugee camp where Lan was born. Shortly after, her parents emigrated and settled in America before her first birthday. Lan grew up on a farm in Southern California that belonged to her parents. Her father raised animals and grew their own food. Her mother, who is Lan’s biggest inspiration and gifted her with her love for cooking, carried on the traditions and flavors of Vietnam.

Lan’s food tells the story of the life she has lived and is written in the language of her native culture. Lan has always understood the importance of honoring heritage and one of the most important aspects of Vietnamese culture is food. Lan’s cooking is a modern and creative fusion of her Eastern roots and Western upbringing.

Like many of today’s greatest entrepreneurs, Lan left a successful career to follow her passion for cooking. After graduating Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Graphic Communication and a minor in Business Administration, she worked for Adobe Systems for 6.5 years before leaving to pursue her dreams. Since then, Lan has parlayed her passion for food into a bevy of forward-thinking businesses.

Lan is chef and owner of Happy’s Hawai’i Green Catering, which crafts unique Asian-fusion dishes that land at the intersection of the freshest ingredients, art, and community. She is also the creator of the Farm-to-Chopstix Craft Beer Tour, where she goes by Drunken Master Chef. She views these events as an opportunity to connect people to the source of their food and embrace the communal aspect of food because, as Lan says, “the most important ingredient in any meal is family and friends.”