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Photography by John Gilhooley

On the Lam

by Tina Borgatta | Riviera Orange County magazine | October 21, 2011

If Wing Lam’s name doesn’t ring a bell, chances are you’ll recognize his face. His style is characterized by a mane of wavy black hair and a thin 4-inch tuft of beard that lines the edge of his chin. And he’s everywhere. He’s on numerous nonprofit boards and committees, and teaches a marketing class at Concordia. And he’s the face of the wildly popular Wahoo’s Fish Taco franchise, a venture he co-founded with his brothers Mingo and Ed Lee back in 1988. What started as one small joint in Costa Mesa now boasts more than 60 locations, and it’s poised to open a place in Nebraska and its first store on the East Coast—right in the heart of NYC. “We work where we want to play,” he says. “So if there’s a place where we like to go to play, we’ll usually end up opening a store there.”

Oh, and then there’s the Ford commercial that he stars in. If you’re watching a football game, you’ll probably see it. Yes, Lam’s a man in great demand. And he’s in a perpetual state of positivity—even more so these days, in fact. Long considered one of O.C.’s most eligible bachelors, Lam just recently tied the knot with yoga instructor Kelly Paul.

So how’d he end up on a Ford commercial? Well, he snapped up a Ford Mustang from the Barrett-Jackson car auction two years ago, then later bought a Ford Transit for Wahoo’s catering division. Along the way, he caught the eye of a Ford marketing guru who tapped Lam for the ad. “They told me that there’d be other business owners in the commercial,” he says. “But then I ended up being the whole commercial.” I guess none of those other business owners had the same edgy SoCal image that makes Lam so magnetic.

Lam’s Hots
Teaching; surfing the waves outside his house in Newport; spinning classes; wine tasting in Napa; yoga on the beach with his bride, Kelly

Lam’s Nots
Bureaucratic red tape; people who flaunt their wealth; crowded surf space