This eighth volume of our QIL series features our good friend and chef, Brinton Chua. We were very excited about this volume as we had the opportunity to dive into Brinton’s journey and gained an understanding of how intricate the culinary arts are. As the Sous Chef of Minami Vancouver, Brinton is continuously pushing himself to create as well as innovate upon already popular Japanese staple dishes. Never settling for less than stunning, he gains inspiration to create many layers to each dish from his work with pastries during his culinary education. Having spent some time with Brinton and hearing about his process, we could not help but salivate. Whether it is his own take on an already popular food dish or something he has brought to life from scratch, you are in for a treat whenever you are served his food. Through learning about his experience thus far, we could not be happier to feature yet another person whose craft expresses quality and community.

Brinton’s path to culinary success began when he was in high school and furthered after graduation. When asked about his passion for food, he said it had always been there and that he finds food interesting because it is something that provides instant gratification. Throughout high school, he took each cooking class available and in his senior year became a teacher’s assistant for the beginners cooking classes. This is when he found joy in teaching people new things, particularly with food. After graduating high school in 2014, he went on to spend his first year of post-secondary education in a business program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Although the program was not difficult for him, he knew right away that this was not the path he wanted to continue on. 

Later on, he mentioned this dilemma to his parents and on the same night wrote his introduction letter to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA). After submitting his letter and leaving Kwantlen in 2016 he was accepted by PICA and began his culinary education. His time at PICA started with a one-year intensive program that’s first six months consisted of baking and working with pastries and the second half on culinary. This first portion was particularly interesting to him because of its intricate nature that ultimately influenced his perspective on what possibilities food brings during the second half of the program. How one can reimagine regular entrees into an elevated dish similar to desserts in terms of the intricacy and layers it provides was always in his mind. During this time, Brinton was enamoured by everything food-related. From reading every single book to watching all available videos, he was hooked and said it ultimately made it easier to study and helped him graduate at the top of his class in the culinary portion. Shortly after graduating, a close friend recommended that he hone his skills and apply for a position at Minami. Again, he applied that night and was told on the next day by the head chef to come in for an interview at Minami, where he has now worked ever since. After only one year, Brinton was offered the title of sous chef at the restaurant and as soon as he received the title, tried to learn all he could. This was when Brinton begun to hone his skills and find more quality and community through his work. 

Brinton mentions that the kitchen is all about respect and this aspect of being in the kitchen relates to community. People in the kitchen often spend their whole day there and, in fact, most of the year is spent with your team in that same kitchen. As a result, the community you build by both teaching and having the willingness to learn is something Brinton says is imperative. He also notes that inside of the workplace and out, it is nice to mentor people and grow the community of chefs. Everybody seems to know everybody and the best thing according to Brinton is that people remember each other by learning something from one another. He also mentioned that he is able to meet people from all over the world who work with his team. For him, it is a great feeling because these people tend to find a sense of community and home at Minami. Whether they are cooking together or going out for drinks and getting to know each other better, their community ultimately expands on an international level. 

As we looked into quality, we found that it is embedded in all of his and Minami’s work. Brinton’s work ethic, discipline, ethics, and personality all connect to produce quality. Although he is now the sous chef, he still works his hardest and is on his hands and knees helping to scrub things down at the end of the day. Moreover, Minami is amazing at producing high-quality food. They only use the best ingredients and go above and beyond for food technique as well as plating to ensure everything is intricate and beautiful. Brinton only picks what is fresh, new, and what he can innovate with. He mentions that it is similar to the art of painting because even the colours on the plate are decided ahead of time to achieve a sense of balance in the dish. However, the future for this incredible chef is changing as of now and we could not be more excited.

Having been with Minami for over five years now, Brinton is currently trying to achieve more of a work-life balance as he is expecting a child soon. Trying to stay within the food industry and fuel his passion while raising his son is up next up for this incredibly talented chef. As he journeys into fatherhood, we are excited to see how he can innovate with new circumstances in his life. Whatever the case may be, we are looking forward to it. In writing this newest volume of Quality in Life, we hope that you may have discovered a new place to dine as well as learned something about how quality and community can be expressed through yet another medium in the world.

Back to blog