2013 James Beard Foundation Award nominee Bun Lai is a chef, artist, environmentalist and social activist. He is a diver and fisherman who supplies his own restaurant, Miya’s Sushi, with wild seafood from his 100 acres of shellfishing grounds off of the Thimble Islands in Connecticut. He, also, lives, farms and forages fifteen minutes from Miya’s Sushi.
In 1995, with his sweet potato roll, Bun Lai started to create a vast array of vegetable sushi, inspired by recipes from around the world. By 2003, Bun Lai had taken octopus off of his menu after learning that this ubiquitous sushi ingredient was fished in a way that was environmentally destructive. Little by little, the chef began to rethink the cuisine of sushi within the framework of ethical eating.
In Bun Lai’s sushi recipes, disparate ingredients and food preparation techniques are combined to symbolize a future where humans and all living and nonliving things can coexist harmoniously.
Through his recipes, Bun Lai will attempt to take you time traveling. In the future that he imagines, people will eat in a way that is healthier not only for their bodies, but also for our whole planet. People will eat fewer animals, since they will have learned that a plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat; and they will hunt and farm animals in a way that is more humane. Bun foresees a kinder and more caring future, where one of the most popular cuisines that exists—sushi—has evolved to become a way of eating that honors and celebrates all life on Earth.
Anthropologist Dr. Yancey Orr Ph.D., and Bun Lai first began collecting and eating invasive Asian shore crabs a eight years ago. This subsequently led to the incorporation of other invasive ingredients to the menu, which features dishes made of foraged ingredients that threaten the region’s indigenous species.
Bun Lai was born in Hong Kong, the son of Yoshiko Lai, a Japanese nutritionist and Dr. Yin Lok Lai M.D.-Ph.D., a Chinese eye surgeon and Cambridge University educated professor.
Bun Lai is the recipient of the Elm Ivy Award, the key to the city of New Haven, bestowed by the city and Yale University to individuals and organizations that have enhanced the many partnerships and collaborative endeavors between the university and its host city.
Bun Lai is the recipient of the Seafood Ambassador Award from Monterey Bay Aquarium for his leadership in the Sustainable Seafood movement.
Bun Lai has been honored as Greatest Person of the Day by The Huffington Post for being an “exceptional individual who is confronting the country’s economic and political crises with creativity, generosity, and passion.”
Ecosalon has named Bun Lai as one of their 11 Eco-Chefs Who Are Changing the Way We Think About Food.
Bun Lai has also appeared on ABC, Food Network; and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp); Food and Wine Magazine; Saveur Magazine; Eating Well Magazine; and The New York Times.
Bun Lai was the a keynote speaker at the biggest fisheries event in the world, the American Fisheries Society’s 141st Annual Meeting. He is a sought-after speaker who has spoken at Google, Monterey Bay Aquarium, New England Aquarium, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Yale University, Wesleyan University, Williams College, New York University, Southern Connecticut State University, Museum of the City of New York, and the Department of Agriculture.