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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Gilbert Lau, c. 1998 (printed 2005)

Kate Gollings

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 60.7 cm x 50.6 cm)

Melbourne Cantonese restaurateur Gilbert Lau (b. 1943) is renowned as the consummate host of the Flower Drum - for remembering your last visit, who you were with and what you ate. He is also known for using Australian products but staying faithful to Cantonese cuisine. Born in Toi Shan, South China, Lau lived with his family in Hong Kong for nine years before migrating to Melbourne at 15 years of age. Lau started working in kitchens at 16, including some work in Canada and North America in the 1960s. He opened The Empress of China with Ken Louey in 1971. Lau opened the lauded Flower Drum in 1975. Lau has recently stepped back from the business, working 60 hours a week from 90 or more. His wife, Alice reports that Lau was so bored on holidays at Dunk Island, "he arranged an elaborate supper for about 60 of the staff on the island. He went and air-freighted goods from Sydney and Melbourne, and there he was sweating in a strange kitchen on his 'holiday'".

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2005
© Estate of Kate Gollings

Accession number: 2005.66

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Kate Gollings (age 55 in 1998)

Gilbert Lau AM (age 55 in 1998)

Subject professions

Food and cooking

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.