YouTube creator Randy Lau on his mission to preserve Chinese culture through cuisine

Randy Lau is the creator of the YouTube channel Made With Lau, a family cooking blog featuring his father’s traditional Chinese recipes. What began as a humble recipe channel has now become an internet sensation, with the channel amassing over 893,000 subscribers. For Lau, the channel’s success signifies that the next generation will continue celebrating Chinese culture.

Lau, a San Francisco native and father of two, began Made With Lau to preserve his Cantonese heritage for his children. His father, the main chef in each recipe video, has 50 years of professional experience cooking Chinese food and owned a restaurant upon immigrating to the U.S.

Growing up as a first-generation Chinese American led Lau to often feel caught between two different worlds — but what helped him get past that feeling was appreciating his family’s cuisine. When reminiscing on his childhood, Lau fondly recalls being “spoiled” by his father’s delicious meals, such as ginger egg fried rice, congee and sticky rice dumplings. For Lau, food was how his dad shared his love for him despite their language barrier.

“I never doubted that he loved me because his love language was food,” Lau told In The Know.

The Made With Lau channel concept came to Lau in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a tumultuous period for Lau’s family. At the time, Lau’s parents’ restaurant got shut down, forcing the family to live off of unemployment and savings — all while Lau’s wife was six months pregnant with their son.

The unprecedented setbacks Lau faced ultimately led him to undergo a period of self-reflection. The uncertainty that the pandemic brought upon Lau’s family motivated him to begin his YouTube project as a way to help his parents get back on their feet and reconnect himself with his Cantonese culture.

“It was just a really uncertain time,” Lau explained. “But I think that uncertainty gave me the space to evaluate what I wanted to do with my life and, like, going back to reconnecting with my dad and learning more about my culture and thinking about what kind of legacy I wanted to leave. Helping my parents just kind of enshrined their legacy.”

Once Lau got his parents on board with his YouTube project, the family got to work. The Laus posted their first recipe video in September 2020, detailing how to make Cantonese-style mapo tofu. Over time, Made With Lau‘s fanbase grew, and viewers now fondly refer to Lau’s father as “Daddy Lau.”

The positive reaction that Made With Lau has received affirms Lau’s Chinese American identity. As viewers praise Daddy Lau’s classic Chinese recipes and specialty dishes, Lau is proud to have created something he can share with his children to show that their culture deserves to be celebrated.

“I just thought a lot about what I wanted to pass down to my kids,” Lau said. “Working on Made With Lau has really helped me deepen my sense of what it means to be Chinese and Chinese American.”

Each video collaboration also brings Lau closer to his parents. The Made With Lau project allows the Lau family to bond over their business strategy and cultural traditions — it is no longer just a cooking channel; it’s now the Laus’ family documentary. The Lau family is now a team, and Made With Lau is their “big adventure.”

“It’s just really special getting to spend this time with my parents because I’m not getting any younger, or they’re not getting any younger,” Lau said. “Giving them the chance to be recognized for how awesome they are and how all the work they put in to raise us, it’s just really special.”

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