Barjinder Bains: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Chef Barjinder Bains was born in a small village in Punjab, India. Although he never thought of being in the food industry permanently, through working in several kitchens in Toronto he found his calling after taking a cook position at Milagro Cantina on Mercer Street in 2006. After years of hard work, the 31-year-old learned and mastered the techniques of traditional Mexican cuisine. Today, Executive Chef Bains supervises and assists in mentoring Milagro’s cantina chefs so that they consistently offer guests traditional foods of the highest quality. You can see him working in the kitchens, making sure that every dish served is perfectly seasoned, at the right temperature, and prepared in the tradition of great Mexican cuisine.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
Doing everything that I need to do, which threads together the three busy locations of Milagro Cantina’s kitchens.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I’ve always been the type to challenge myself and try something new, so when this opportunity came I grabbed it and never looked back!

When I was younger, every time I watched a cooking show I was always intrigued by the fast-paced challenges in the kitchen and wondered if I could ever do it. Now, after 10 years, I feel like cooking and being in the kitchen is my thrill and not a job; it’s my lifestyle. 

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Eating and tasting. My chefs spoil me. Most challenging? Toronto traffic!

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
My work is my life. (As are my wife and son.)

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In an airplane, sipping on a coffee, heading to Milagro on the West Coast.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Being an executive chef of an authentic Mexican restaurant while having an Indian background. I found similarities in both countries’ cultures and foods and never stopped learning. The founders of Milagro, Arturo and Andres Anhalt, truly helped me understand authentic Mexican food from the day I started at Milagro as a line cook.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success can be different for everybody, but for me it’s becoming who I want to be. Money can’t simply buy you happiness.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
When I became Chef de Cuisine at Milagro at the age of 24.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Every day is a new day! Learn from your mistakes. Take chances. Believe in yourself. Love what you do. I’ve always lived by this saying: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
I have a few not just one. Terroni, if I’m feeling Italian. Great atmosphere and rustic look. Barque, which I recently visited – best smoked meats. 416 Snack Bar for good drinks and small bites.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Browsing tech news and my future cars. Spending time with my family and sleeping.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
India! It is a country with rich culture, great food, remarkable history, and it is my birthplace.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
“Started from the Bottom” by Drake.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Working my way up in the police force.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
R.A.C.H – Rallying Against Cancer Hardcore, a charity named after a family friend who passed away from cancer. Every year they run a three-pitch tournament to raise money for cancer research. There is a great joy and peace in coming together and fighting for a great cause.

What to you is notable?
Seeing chefs who didn’t know how to hold a knife and started as dishwashers now running a kitchen. It reminds me of myself.

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