Vancouver is home to some of the best chefs in the world, many have worked for the top chefs and restaurants around the world as well as around the city. Dishing with the Chefs is a series of Interviews with some of the top chefs in and around Vancouver.
Jonathan Chuy worked at Grouse Mountain as a cook when he was 19, then worked at the Westin Whistler at Aubergine as a 1st cook for almost a year. Afterwards he joined the Glowbal Group and worked as Chef de Partie opening Trattoria Italian Kitchen in 2008, he then worked within the company at Italian Kitchen as Chef de Partie for 8 months, then became Jr Sous Chef at Global Grill for 11 months, then Sous Chef at Italian Kitchen for 11 months and back to Trattoria Italian Kitchen as the Executive Chef for the past 2 years.
You can follow Chef Jonathan Chuy on twitter @Jon_Chuy
Have you always had an interest in Cooking?
Always, coming from an Italian/Chinese family and a little Peruvian thrown in. We had family dinners, my grandfather and grandmother had a backyard farm, my grandma always cooked for us.
Did you go to Culinary School?
No I did an apprenticeship through Vancouver Community College for 3 years that placed me at Grouse Mountain starting in the cafeteria flipping burgers then manning the kitchen at the Observatory Restaurant. I spent the 1st year of the program working at Grouse Mountain, the 2nd year at the Westin Whistler and the 3rd year with Global Grill while getting my Red Seal there.
How does the apprenticeship at VCC work?
1 month for every year of your apprenticeship you go to school at VCC, I did my apprenticeship in 3-1/2 years.
What is the Apprenticeship program like at Global Group?
We have a very good program at the company, every 2nd Saturday for 8 months we have classes and each class has an exam, then we have a mid-term black box competition.
If chefs approach you at the restaurant for a cook position, what do you look for?
It’s my thing I review the resumes and reference checks.
What do you look for when you hire Cooks?
- Good solid work history.
- Presents him/herself well
- Have a strong character
- Willing to work harder than me
- I want everyone in my kitchen to want my position one day.
- I want to feel the energy between the staff.
The First Dish:
Salt Spring Island Mussels
What was your inspiration behind this dish?
I had a Cioppino on my menu and I wanted to switch it up and use Westcoast seafood, spot prawns, sockeye, halibut and I used Sambuca to change up the flavours.
What were your favourite foods growing up?
- Grandmas fresh pasta
- Other Grandmas fried rice
- Mom’s beer & broccoli when I was 7
What is your Favourite food now?
What are your favourite restaurants outside of where you work?
- Cactus Club
- Araxi – Whistler
What do you like to do in your Off Time?
- Bicycle the seawall
- Hangout with my family and in my grandmas garden
- Drink wine – Italian wines
- Play video games
- Read cookbooks
- Take care of my balcony garden
When did you seriously get into Italian wine?
After my trip to Italy 2 year ago, also started a little wine collection.
What is your current favourite Italian wine?
Antinori Plandelle Vigne 2006 Brunella
What dish would you pair with your favourite wine?
Plain basic risotto with pan roasted tenderloin sliced lardo & gorgonzola gratic and a little jus
The Second Dish:
Pan Seared Haida Gwaii Halibut
Fava bean and mint risotto
Olive oil confit
What was your inspiration behind this dish?
Local, seasonal, pea & mint, spring but fava bean & mint to change it up.
Who are your Mentors?
- Ryan Gauthier
- Eric Heck
- Sylvain Currer
- Anthony Sedlak
What is the art to a perfect Risotto?
Use a good stock, making sure you are patient with the risotto, sweat your onions, deglaze with white wine, ladel, stir & stir – that is what makes the creaminess.
What has Inspired you lately?
- Watching Iron Chef America
- Watching Chopped
- Reading Magazines and cookbooks
- In the summer I draw a lot of my inspiration from visits to the West End Farmers Market.
What are you growing in your Balcony Garden at home?
Chives, mint, thyme, sage, lavender, basil, heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, strawberry spinach, beets, thumbalina carrots, Italian chilis, blackberry bush
How much do you cook at home?
About twice a month
What do you do with the mint that you grow at home?
The mint gets used for my mojito parties.
What do you do with the strawberries and blackberries you grow?
I add them to my morning smoothies.
Stay tuned for the next chef in the Dishing with the Chef series.
By: Richard Wolak