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Meet Chinh, a passionate

14 Dec 2020

If the holiday season could be summed up by a fundamental concept, it would be sharing—sharing traditions, feasts, and moments of joy. It’s of these undoubtedly familiar rituals that Chinh Vu is also thinking about at this time of year. When he describes his usual Christmas with his family, it’s as if you’re there. Children and parents bask in the joy of being together once again and in the warm, savoury smells coming from the kitchen, all eager to open the gifts and dig into the turkey! 

It was in that same kitchen, alongside the lady he so affectionately calls “Mom,” that Chinh’s most cherished memories were made. Building on this mother’s culinary legacy with a fusion of passion and tradition, Chinh has made cooking a common thread throughout his life, leading him to open CafeDen, a Vietnamese bistro in the heart of Little Italy, six years ago.

With CafeDen, Chinh wanted a place that was a reflection of himself, a place that was creative, generous, authentic, and that drew its strength from his family’s values and history. Regulars—including our team in Montreal—will tell you that he’s succeeded!

In an environment like this, built around human connection, the notion of sharing has been completely reshaped this year. To get through this period, Chinh had to be patient. After a two-week break in late March, he and his team reopened CafeDen for take-out orders.

In this period’s somewhat unstable climate, he found himself privileged and lucky to have been so well supported by the restaurant’s community, and not only financially. “Just a simple coffee and a good morning can make all the difference. You don’t have to spend thousands to support your favourite spots.”

Like many restaurant owners, Chinh dreamed of hosting a handful of small tables at CafeDen during the holiday season to breathe life back into the dining room. Although his wish will not come true this year, our friend will still decorate his restaurant, as usual—for his employees, for his customers enjoying the take-out menu, but most importantly, for himself, as he’s a fervent fan of this tradition.

More than ever in 2020, we need stable points of reference, things to help us escape, and other little indulgences. Chinh, for example, rediscovered his love for leatherworking, a hobby that was his trade before opening CafeDen. Between that and his daily wellness rituals, the restaurant owner reconnected with himself, simply by taking the time.

And he looks forward to continuing on that path this month! “This year, we’re going to have slower, quieter holidays. The time of rushing between two crowded events is over! Let’s take advantage of the circumstances to spend more quality time with those we’ll be able to see.”

While planning parties is harder for large families like the Vus, traditions like decorating the tree and the house remain mandatory (and comforting!). For Chinh, there will still be handmade Christmas cards and—unsurprisingly—preparing delicious dishes that he, his mother, and his loved ones will love to share when the time comes.

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