Brandon’s thoughtfulness is evident in his cooking and ideology. He created Mister Jiu’s as a way to show people how versatile and exciting Chinese cuisine could be, but first he would need inspiration and experience. At Zuni and Quince, he’d notice chefs incorporating California ingredients into Mediterranean recipes: “I had an idea. This could be done with Chinese cuisine... I could balance California ingredients with Chinese techniques and classic Chinese combinations of flavor,” he states.
So Brandon set off to Shanghai, hoping to better understand how to incorporate old techniques with new ingredients; instead, he found the answer in Italy. “When I was training in Italy, I experienced the passion Italians have for the region, and that solidified the idea in me that it’s the role of a chef within a region to be really good at regional recipes and the incorporation of regional ingredients," he says. "My relationship with the small farms [in San Francisco] is really important, as is knowing how to use the ingredients that are special to our area, like artichokes, avocados, sea urchin, and Dungeness crab. And even the cheaper things that are super-delicious like sardines, squid, and sand dabs. Wanting to be good at expressing the local food became a goal of mine, and because of that, I think it was hard to imagine that my first restaurant would be anywhere other than San Francisco.”