It has come full circle for the new owners of Chow Boyz Restaurant on Highway 16.
Hailing from Nakusp, Wayne and Estell Wong and family opened the doors of Chow Boyz for its grand opening on Sept. 19.
In a similar fashion 43 years ago, Wayne’s parents Derek and Lyne Wong moved with their sons from Kamloops to Nakusp to take over the Dumont Restaurant — now called the K2 Rotor Lodge — and eventually opening the Manor Restaurant at a new location in town.
“So many great friends and memories blossomed from there,” stated Wayne’s brother Andy on Facebook as he announced the family’s move to Vanderhoof — a post that earned over 150 likes from the Nakusp community.
Fast-forwarding to 1998, the couple retired to Vancouver and passed the kitchen gloves to the next generation of Wongs. Before leaving, Derek taught his daughter-in-law the ways of the wok.
“Estell’s helping out, dad would start a dish and then leave, saying, “Now you finish it!” Wayne recalled. “You lift the lid: blue smoke for burnt, white smoke for steaming.”
The younger couple’s delve into restaurant operation ended shortly in four years when they moved to Kamloops, where Wayne began his career and training in hotel culinary business.
Starting as a breakfast cook at Prestons Restaurant — now called Romeo’s Kitchen — in the Coast Kamloops Hotel, Wayne eventually became the executive sous-chef 10 years later, learning about inventory, ordering, and line control.
His path then hit speed bumps for several years as he tried his hand in managing a breakfast restaurant, cooking for 750 men in Fort McMurray, as well as returning to Prestons briefly.
Wayne’s next break came in the spring of 2015 when he joined the kitchen of Prime Lounge & Grill within Four Points by Sheraton Hotel Kamloops.
Just as over a decade ago, Wayne first began as a morning sous-chef, becoming head chef of the kitchen a year later on his birthday, April 10.
“The general manager gave me the tools to help me become the chef there, provided guidance and resources if I want to learn about food costing, meat cutting,” he said. “It was the hardest thing to do to become a chef, logging 770 hrs in three months.”
Now in Vanderhoof: returning to the ‘50s
Moved into town just a month before restaurant opening, Wayne visited the restaurant, then owned by his cousin Allan Chow, in early August, signing a one-year lease for the place.
Keeping some of Chow’s popular dishes, Wayne added new menu items as well as re-opened the cafe portion of the restaurant to the public again.
“We’re bringing back the 1950s and 60s,” he said. “We’ll have the old fashioned milkshake with hard ice cream.”