Meet Chef Ito, the well-known silent chef from the well-known raw vegan, all-organic restaurant Au Lac. Guided by his sincere wish to serve food with heart and soul, Chef Ito is succeeding in his mission silently because he hasn’t spoken a word in more than 15 years. But even with his vow of silence, he manages to communicate perfectly both with the Au Lac’s staff as well as with their costumers, using simple hand gestures and facial expressions.

In an interview (for Munchies), Mai Nguyen, the owner of Au Lac, says:

“Because of his silence and humility,” she says, “he’s sweeping the floor, cleaning the restroom, washing dishes; his staff thinks, Why not me? And he gains their respect. He never scolds them except when they don’t show up on time or argue with each other. He says ‘If you do my kitchen work, you must have love for people; if not, you cannot perform my food well.’”

He is an extraordinary and innovative chef, whose dishes are filled with love.


Curried Rice: sprouted wild rice, macadamia sauce, cauliflower, and dehydrated onion.

Mai Nguyen opened Au Lac in 1997, after she experienced the healing power of plant-based food. She fought with a brain tumor, which each time after being removed, kept growing back. Driven by her desire to win the battle, she decided to find cure in changing her diet. Just a couple of months after she cut off meat from her diet, Nguyen was already getting winning signs for this battle. Beside the many health benefits she got then, the greatest thing that happened was the fact that tumor hadn’t grown back, never again.
That experience inspired her to share and promote plant-based food to her community. She opened Au Lac and served plant-based alternatives from traditional Vietnamese cuisine.

Owner Mai Nguyen of Au Lac

Owner Mai Nguyen of Au Lac

Chef Ito recognized the powerful meaning behind the existence of Au Lac and Mai Nguyen and contacted her, proposing to expand her menu to raw vegan or as Chef Ito calls “fine humanese cuisine”, which he sincerely believes it is the best food for all humanity. Touched by his honest belief, silence and humbleness, Nguyen agreed and in 2001 they joined together on this powerful journey.


Nori-wrapped soy fish seasoned with lemongrass & pan-seared chilli. Served with pickled carrots & daikon and black rice

Au Lac has now two locations. Beside its original, where-everything-started location in Fountain Valley, this year Au Lac was brougth to Los Angeles as well.

It’s inspiring to see Mai Nguyen’s and Chef Ito’s contribution to people’s lives in so sincere and delicious way by combining two really important parts, food and health.

Be sure to pay a visit to Au Lac, feel the special atmosphere on yourself and discover the real joy of vegan food!

Sources: Au Lac and Munchies