Our “Pre-Shift Lessons” series spotlights hospitality industry standouts, and this time around, we’re talking shop with Casey Ikeuchi Felton, the owner and chef behind Banh Oui in Hollywood, California. A 2022 semifinalist in the “Emerging Chef” category at the James Beard Awards, Casey honed her skills at repeat-Michelin-Star-recipient Providence in Los Angeles, at Red Medicine in Beverly Hills, and at eateries throughout Australia before opening doors at Banh Oui.
Read on for more about Casey, who inspires her, what tools she has in her culinary arsenal, and how she keeps it all together in the kitchen.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Oh boy! This is such a great question. I would tell myself to remember confidence while practicing modesty. As a young cook, I was so eager to prove myself that sometimes I forgot my own value.
What is the most important tool to have in your arsenal?
The most important tool in my line of work is humility. The kitchen is a fast paced, high heat, energy driven space, and sometimes that can play into large egos and misunderstandings. Humility can breath opportunity into a culture that is so heavily tainted by toxic energy.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
The best advice given to me regarding my profession is to work clean. A dirty or chaotic work bench or station adds chaos to the food, but a clean space allows for the best representation of your work.
Who is one of your hospitality heroes and why?
Jose Andres. He is a genius at his craft, showcases humility, generosity, and protest to represent the best of humanity.
What’s your favorite guilty pleasure (food or drink)?
My guilty pleasure: lays potato chips with caviar and creme fraiche….I know, totally ridiculous, but GOD do I love it.
What is one of your favorite hospitality memories?
This is a tough one, there are so many. I loved dining at the Bazaar when it was still open at the SLS. The hospitality, food and drink were all top notch and set the bar for a great dining experience.
What’s a lesson you had to learn the hard way?
Dealing with other parties and realizing nobody will care as much as you do continues to be a difficult reality to swallow. We live in a capitalist society and sometimes that doesn’t lend to small leniencies that can make a large difference. Compromise in business, or the tendency for businesses to work together for a greater good rarely exist…perhaps a lesson I will continue to refuse to accept.
What’s your favorite hospitality life-hack?
hahaha. My favorite hospitality life- hack is a sharp knife. Our tools are meant to assist our work, and a dull knife only makes it harder. Sharp knife, happy life.