Capturing Attention, With Determination, Meet WE Suki Suki Chef/Owner, Quynh Trinh
Q: Lets start at the beginning, how old were you when you first stepped into the restaurant business?
QT: My family emigrated from South Vietnam in 1975 to Minnesota! It was there that my family started our first food-based business: Banh Baos. Because of the large Vietnamese refugee population which was sponsored by the kind and generous people and churches of Minnesota, my mother, my brothers and I made these Saigon-style dumplings and sold them to local markets, when I was 6 years old.
Q: Looking back, is there anything you would have done different in your career?
QT: I’m not one to look back. I’m one to take the lessons that each career journey took me, learn from them and evolve myself to adapt them to my current challenges.
Q: When did the idea for the Global Grub Collective come about?
QT: The idea was a goal from the start. Prior to finding a business to buy, the concept was always a shared space where a Brand Builder/ Cyclical Entrepreneur like myself can execute multi-brands under one roof. I loved the way SoBa flipped into Octopus. Back in the day (1990’s) there was a spot that was one business during the week, during the weekend it was another business called “Weekends”. I LOVE that. So smart. Flea markets, Beauty Salons and Barber Shops have been doing Booth Vendors forever. I just took their concept and a Food Truck Park and Global Street Vendors (like my Banh Mi Shop) and mashed them up under a cooperative/roommate structure.
Q: What are your future plans for We Suki Suki?
QT: We (my silent partner Brother Roger and I) hope to make the Global Grub Collective available in as many towns/cities as possible. We have a 7-year waiting list to be a permanent vendor within our organization. The business model is Efficient, Affordable and Sustainable. There is great demand for its duplication.
Q: Tell us about some of We Suki Suki’s popular dishes your customers come back for?
QT: I always say that “this is the house that Banh Mi built.” Our acclaimed Saigon Subs pay the bills and is the single food item that sustains us, and our very loyal customers come back for religiously. Our home-style phos have a cult following. I call them Phonatics;). Our Boba Tea is made from Taiwanese Black Tea and of course the Vietnamese Chicory Ice Coffee also fuel many addictions.
Q: You have become a model businesswoman … can you share with our audience the greatest fear you've had to overcome to get where you are today?
QT: My greatest fear has always been “What is my purpose?” I have always gotten bored, lose interest or felt something missing in my life that was always beyond having a partner (husband/boyfriend), children and money. I have always searched for what can I leave as a legacy that truly utilizes my experience, knowledge and my passion to change the world. I truly feel that I have been put on this earth gifted with the amazing life I have lived and learned from for a reason. A purpose that is beyond monetary and self-success. The Global Grub Collective (GGC) is the most important work I have done to date.
Q: Do you plan to cook up any other projects in the future?
QT: Absolutely. Guaranteed I will have at least 10 more projects in the next 10 years. It’s who I am. They may not be as well-known as We Suki Suki or the GGC, but there will be plenty. They are ALL based on the Arts which ALL my careers have been based on.
Q: Can you tell our audience one of your most memorable moments your career?
QT: I don’t know why this one always comes to mind, but it was just a couple weeks after I opened my Banh Mi shop in 2012. A local tattoo artist came in to order a sandwich and to say good-bye. He explained because he saw how I took an ice cream shop, $99, two foreman grills, a toaster oven and a coffee maker and just went for it. It was simple, modest and real and achievable. He was inspired and he found a space where he was going to set up his own one-man Tattoo shop in Brookhaven. Just him, his knowledge/skills, his tools and loyal clientele. It made my soul cry with complete joy! It’s important for me to “Be the Change I wished to be in my own life” and my greatest joy to inspire from that change.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
QT: GO FOR IT! Keep things simple and start investing in your dream(s). No one is going to believe in your dream unless YOU believe in it, but more importantly, no one will invest in your dream projects unless you invest first. Respect Business. Do your homework. Respect Investors by articulating in business language. I get frustrated when I hear people who think they have a great idea and somehow that idea is going to come to fruition by magic or luck. Destiny is earned through perseverance and dedication.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
QT: My Mother. Her love for her family (she loves all of us for exactly who we are) and the beauty and respect for her culture and the ingredients (she’s a master gardener) with which she cooks is why her food is not only not unforgettably sublime, it’s breathtaking in presentation. She’s worked so tirelessly all my life for her family. No-one has ever loved me or will ever love me as much as my Mother. She’s the love of my life and I always hope to make her proud even now, when I’m 50!
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
QT: I feel we will always want to do it all and feel guilty when we don’t. I myself am challenged every day to keep balance in my life. I know I don’t want to have a career that sacrifices my time with family and friends. I don’t want to devote all my time to everyone else and save nothing for myself, therefore losing myself while actionizing my projects and being a Mom/Girlfriend/daughter. Save time for yourself!
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
QT: Believe in yourself. See the opportunities that come with each challenge. Hold yourself accountable but don’t let ANYONE disrespect you, but you must also respect in return. I can’t stand entitlement and disrespect. As a mentor, I refuse to take on mentees who have no weight to their words. I want to see that you’ve put yourself out there. You took chances. You’re willing to get your hands dirty. This Social Media world makes me crazy … I don’t want to know everything you do. So many young people care too much about what other people think. They measure who they are by their worth in “Likes”. It’s so sad. I want to see confidence through experience and empathy as an employer/mentor.
Q: What's your advice for women in male-dominated fields?
QT: Don’t dummy down. Don’t ugly down. Don’t cower because others feel threatened. I would rather be alone fighting to keep my integrity than have 100 colleagues because I wanted to be popular. I am quoted as saying whenever anyone alludes that I’m a B! @**, “this B! @** was built. became one to guard my house (my businesses), my family and my dreams.” Words are man-made anyways. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but I am TITANIUM. Thank you, Sia ☺
Five Things About Chef/Owner Quynh Trinh
1.If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Cleopatra. She’s so intriguing. Powerful and sexy, I would love to ask her what it was like to rule Egypt and balance it out with having to form alliances with Caesar and marc Anthony. Talk about Game of Thrones, right?
2. What’s the best advice anyone’s given you?
Very overused common sayings: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”, “Pick your Battles to win the War” and “Finish Strong”
3. How do you release stress?
Yoga and Qi Gong in the morning, Walks with my “Dogter” after work, cooking dinner with my sons while watching/laughing to Bob’s Burgers and ending the evening with a candlelit hot bath scented with herbs from the garden mixed with Epsom salt to soothe my muscles while sipping a glass of red wine.
4. Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Mexico … All of it. I love the food and the people.
5. Do you look forward to birthdays?
I do! I always gift myself by going somewhere I haven’t traveled to or haven’t been for a while, visiting my Mom in New Orleans, taking my team out for a celebratory dinner and having birthday dates with my best girlfriends and sons (separately). I celebrate the whole month of September!