From home cook to a professional

Finding a mentor and cooking at home led Jordan Diniz to culinary excellence

A family visit to a restaurant in Vancouver is what led George Brown College (GBC) culinary student Jordan Diniz to his mentor, restaurant owner and chef, Vikram Vij, who played a part in shaping his career in the culinary arena. 

Vij was walking out of the building when Diniz stumbled upon him and seized the opportunity to confide in the chef who is well known for fusing Vancouver’s cuisines with Indian influences. 

“Remain focused, work hard, and just work towards a great life experience,” were the words that propelled Diniz towards the post-graduate Italian program offered to culinary students at GBC. 

Diniz was finishing off a diploma in culinary management at the time.

The question of what direction should he take with cooking was edged in his mind. 

The two exchanged emails, and because of that experience, “I see food in a different way, and it’s more to life than just eating and getting by,” Diniz said. “It’s like a different feel for me I find. It’s about making people happy,” he added.

After completing the culinary management program, Diniz took on the post-graduate Italian program. This program took him abroad to Italy in his final year, through a partnership with ALMA – The International School of Italian Cuisine in Italy.

As part of his externship journey in Italy, Diniz ended up working in a castle in Piedmont from where he was able to see the Swiss Mountains and France in the distance.

His trip began in August 2018, and it came to an end in December. He described the experience as eye-opening.

“Here, we kind of just eat what we can and it’s whatever because we have restaurants at our fingertips,” he said.  “And over there (Italy), everyone is really keen on doing the home cooking,” Diniz added.

Upon his return from Italy, he started working shifts at The Chef’s House and used that experience to guide his tasting menu that was featured at the student-run restaurant from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1. 

Although cooking in a fine-dining restaurant, and running a catering business on the side can be exciting, it all comes back to home for Diniz.

He grew up observing his mother and grandmother cooking from the kitchen counters, and picked up on some of their techniques. From then he knew that was what he wanted to pursue.  

The Food Network was also his source of inspiration, and was often heard in the background when his mother cooked. 

Although cooking was celebrated in the family, he was the first one in his to take the leap into cooking professionally, fulfilling a dream of his uncle, who went into business.

“The most remarkable meal is always with your loved ones, family, and friends,” Diniz said. 

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From home cook to a professional