Get To Know Chef Jim Vesal

January 29, 2021

You know him as the culinary mastermind behind Virtuous Pie’s plant-based pizza and ice cream, and now, behind MILA’s innovative menu. But did you know his career almost went in a completely different direction, or what his drink of choice is?

Keep reading to find out more about the Chef himself, his inspiration behind MILA, and what it’s been like opening a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic.

What does living a plant-based lifestyle mean to you?

For me it’s about doing the best you can (that’s practical and possible) to reduce the need for animal agriculture and to eat in a way that is more sustainable for the environment. It means making better choices more often!

What excites you most about working for MILA?

Everything! We have been talking about doing a casual fine dining concept since we started Virtuous Pie so it’s really nice to be able to flex my culinary brain in areas outside of pizza and to do a concept that I feel like I could eat at every day.

Where did the culinary inspiration for MILA’s menu come from?

A lot of the inspiration came from our desire to combine some of our favourite globally inspired dishes, with a bit of Asian flare—a nod to the neighbourhood we’re in. We really wanted to explore dishes that hadn’t been seen before in Vancouver as well as create some addicting guest classics that would satisfy all types of tastes.

What’s your favourite food item on the menu?

I really love the Sausage and Mushroom Tagliatelle. It’s the perfect mix of decadence and comfort, and it’s very filling—the perfect meal for a cold night or when you’re a little hungover.

What’s your go-to beverage or cocktail on the menu?

I’d have to say I am in love with our house-made lemonades and also have a soft spot for our whiskey list.

You’re opening a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic—what’s been the biggest challenge for you?

The biggest challenge has been balancing the needs of cooking in a close environment where it is hot and tasting food is a key part of the process, with keeping everyone safe at the same time. Our priority has been to find the right balance of habits and processes to ensure our guests and partners feel absolutely safe coming to work.

On a lighter note, what’s something most people may not realize about you?

I had planned to be a lawyer and practice corporate ethics law, but when the time came to decide between cooking and going to Law School I followed my heart (and stomach!).

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