Though John Ly grew up helping out in the kitchen of his family's restaurants, his parents never wanted him to become a chef. The restaurant industry is competitive, they warned him—a lot of hard work with little recognition. Heeding their advice, Ly began pursuing a degree in computer science at the University of Texas, but soon realized that he longed for the creativity and chaos of the kitchen. Propelled by his passion for food and cooking, Ly renounced his degree and enrolled in culinary school. After years spent working his way up through scrubbing floors, washing dishes, and absorbing his managing chef's techniques, Ly finally spearheaded La Strada Restaurant & Bar—naming the restaurant after the word for "different layers" to reflect the diverse international influences of his cooking.
As executive chef, Ly captains his kitchen crew as they artfully plate innovative, contemporary fusion dishes using seasonal ingredients, earning the restaurant Hungry in Houston's Best Restaurant award in 2010. His pan-seared sea bass, cinnamon-rubbed rib eye, and spicy habanero-infused sausage dishes have also enticed the taste buds of reporters from the Houston Press. Ly staffs his modern dining room with a friendly team of servers, while offering up an expansive outdoor patio, an ideal spot for a date night or celebrating recent acquisitions of rival rent-a-bobcat businesses.