Hooked on sushi: Edmonton home caterer serves up 10-course meal and a show

If you want to hire Vinh Tran, you'd better act soon; he's already booked up to a year in advance as the popularity for home catering services continues to grow in the city. 

With bookings a year in advance, getting dinner with Vinh Tran is a great catch

Vinh Tran entertains at a party hosted by Kevin Findlay in Edmonton in late summer. (Axel Tardieu/CBC)

When it comes to his home catering business, Edmonton chef Vinh Tran is serving up sushi with style.

And if you want to hire Tran for one of his 10-course food experiences, you'd better act soon; he's already booked up to a year in advance as the popularity for his showmanship and catering services continues to grow in the city. 

Tran was born and raised in Vietnam but immigrated with his mother to Canada when he was 10 years old.

Tran says he's been making sushi for 17 years. He and his mother immigrated to Canada when he was 10. (Axel Tardieu/CBC)

"I honestly did not know what I was going to do when I grew up," Tran said. "Since sushi is such an interesting cuisine and it's very pretty, I got hooked on that." 

"The first three months, I wanted to give up. I thought it was really hard," he said.

"I kept going and going and now it's been 17 years since I first started making sushi."

Using creativity 

Five years ago, Tran started Sushi By Vinh Incorporated, his own catering business, which has been growing since.

"I used to do this for my friends just for fun and one day, a stranger messaged me saying, 'Hey, do you cater?' and I just said yes," said Tran. 

He said he wasn't able to be creative when he was working in sushi restaurants but that has changed since he started out on his own. 

A plate of salmon sashimi prepared by Tran at a party. (Axel Tardieu/CBC)

"The only time I was creative was when I was making my own food for lunch," he said.

"I tended to make something that's off the menu and something that I like to eat but I never got a chance to feed it to the customer because it was never on the menu," Tran said. 

'It's the showmanship' 

Tran said his business gained popularity because people enjoy his performances. 

"They get to see the whole process and they enjoy watching. I think it's the showmanship —  it's the show I put on that they really enjoy," he said.

"I enjoy that, too, because I feel welcome and I feel appreciated." 

Kevin Findlay hired Tran to cater his party of 20 people last Tuesday.

Tran charges $70 per person, plus tips, and the party is also required to have a minimum of 10 people. Findlay said he booked Tran eight months in advance. 

"It's the quality of the food, we've tried sushi in a lot of places around the world, lots of places in Canada ... Vinh's would be at the top of everything I've ever tried in sushi," Findlay said. 

"And it's also Vinh. No matter what crowd you put in front of Vinh, he's there to be part of the crowd." 

With files from CBC's Axel Tardieu


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