“With Sai Woo, it is my way of reaching out and supporting fellow local producers. I do my best to showcase their products to the Sai Woo customers, and hopefully that translates for them to grow their audience and ours.”
Brandon grew up cooking with his mom in the family kitchen, where she always cooked traditional Vietnamese food from her grandmother’s recipes. At the age of 12, he knew for certain that his dream was to be a chef. After high school, he went straight to Vancouver Community College Culinary Arts program, and went on to cook for Westin Wall Center under apprenticeship. Afterwards moved on to Diva at the Met, and Shangri La Hotel Vancouver. The year 2014 took him on a journey to Copenhagen, and there he had an opportunity to gain more experiences at Michelin-star restaurants like NOMA and AOC.
VOICE(V): “What made you come back to your home base, Vancouver?”
Brandon(B) : “Being abroad really got me connected to my roots as being a Canadian. I realized how much I missed home and decided to come back to look into my roots at a much deeper sense. Having been born and raised in Canada, I realized that I didn’t really connect with my Vietnamese heritage. All I knew about being Vietnamese was through my family and through cooking.”
After coming back from Copenhagen, he started working as Chef de cuisine at Sai Woo, a trendy, modern Chinese restaurant in the heart of historic Chinatown, and in 2017, he decided to start his own catering service, The Phamily Table.
V: “Your last name, Pham, fits perfectly with your concept and your company name – The Phamily Table. Can you tell us what The Phamily Table means to you? “
B: “The Phamily Table was my way of connecting both sides of being a Canadian and Vietnamese. The dishes were inspired by my culture, and respecting ingredients and nature from where we live, Vancouver.
The Phamily Table eventually shifted its specialty from catering to a small batch local Vietnamese Chili sauce company, The Phamily Table Re/De/Fine Foods. Sauces that are essential and unique to Vietnamese cooking and culture, and doing something as simple as creating my sauces, that’s when I feel I can showcase and talk about my culture.”
The Phamily Table currently offers 3 different types of sauces: Red Chili Sauce, 90% straight chili`s that are sourced locally in Chilliwack, Gold Sweet Chili, and Jade Lemongrass Dipping Sauce. They are all vegan, gluten free, low carb and low sodium. They are all versatile sauces for dipping, dressing, marinating, and great pairing with grilled meat or fish. His goal is to have it at everyone’s “family table”
B: “I try to release a new sauce every 6 month. Jade Lemongrass Dipping Sauce is my favorite as far, and it is named after my mom. “Ngoc Bich” is my mom’s name, which means “Jade” in Vietnamese. So this sauce is in honour of her, my greatest inspiration. I released it on her birthday!”
Just when the Phamily Table was taking off and expanding its distribution, he landed an opportunity to be back on board as an owner and an executive chef at Sai Woo in December 2020.
V: “ Can you tell us how you are reinventing Sai Woo under your wing?”
B: “My mission has always been utilizing local ingredients. It is now the main concept of Sai Woo, respecting the heritage of Chinatown and at the same time bringing over some fellow local producers that I have met over the years at the commissary kitchen and farmers markets, through my own business with The Phamily Table. I believe a restaurant is the perfect place to showcase local products on a dish, drink, and dessert in so many ways. It does not matter the cost. Showcasing and supporting local small businesses is very important to me.”
Sai Woo was reopened under the new management on January 7th, 2021. And, Brandon is serious when supporting local producers and farmers.
You will find Sriracha Revolver for hot sauces for brunch, Sky Harvest for microgreens, Local Harvest Farms for seasonal greens and chilies, One Arrow Meats for breakfast bacon, Chao+Pan for pork crisps, and the list goes on.
B: “When I started my own business, it was really difficult. So, with The Phamily Table and Sai Woo, I like to be the one that can reach out to other local businesses and help them along the way. I am so excited about putting other amazing products and ingredients on the menu at the restaurant! I also love working with simple and super fresh vegetables from the local farmers! Our reinvented menu is very vegetable focused and fresh and our cooking method is nothing too heavy with oil or deep frying. You will find most of our food is raw or cooked by grilling, steaming and braising.”
A day before VOICE interview, he just completed his new menu and is also excited that Sai woo’s new cocktail list and beverage program will be showcasing all local distilleries, wineries and breweries especially from a newer market in Vancouver Island.
B: “I find it inspiring and funny in a weird way that this isn’t the norm, where the farmer grows my chili`s, and we have a personal connection. I then utilize it to make my Red Chili Sauce for The Phamily Table and then they also sell it at their grocery store. And at the Sai Woo restaurant I can utilize my sauces on the menu, along with their other seasonal produce. That’s my goal of being local. It is a nice full circle, and we are all being supportive of one another.”
Full on local – That`s what Brandon stands by ever since he`s entered into the culinary world. The Phamily Table showcases local ingredients, using his heritage as inspiration. Sai Woo serves authentic Asian cuisine inspired by locally sourced products to bring the best tasting flavours on the menu.
Do you want to support local? Why not start with The Phamily Table and Sai Woo?
Join them for Dine Out Vancouver Festival from Feb 5th – March 7th, 2021(price range $25-34). Stay tuned for their brunch menu starting in March! Also a special Valentine’s Dinner menu February 14th(price range $50).
Brandon`s Favorite: Root Vegetable Salad (beet, turnip, radish, mint, basil, puffed buckwheat, homemade yoghurt), Banh Canh (clear chicken broth soup with handmade rice cake, pork shoulder and vegetables, chili oil), and Vegan Spinach Noodle(Asian greens, tofu, Vietnamese green coconut curry).