Imagine yourself in the library cramming for exams. You are starving, but grossed out by trashy fast foods you have already had for five days in a row. Jia Yuan may be your rescue. “Students are lazy. They either eat unhealthy takeaways, or they don’t eat anything at all. One day I asked myself, why don’t I cook for them?”
Dressed in a sharp-coloured polo shirt and a pair of jeans, Jia Yuan came in like any other young man. His beaming face while talking about his occupation as a chef tells everyone where his true passion lies.
Born in Malaysia, Jia Yuan’s journey of becoming a chef started when his grandma noticed that he had a good sense of taste. “She is a really good chef and I learn from her most of the time.” Jia Yuan recalls. His grandma also encouraged him to study cookery in Melbourne. At first, it was just for fun. Slowly, he realised his passion in this field. After working as a chef in Malaysian and Thai restaurants for six years, he decided to open up his own catering business, D’ Little Chef.
D’ Little Chef not only caters for different events, but also delivers lunch or dinner boxes to students’ doorsteps during examination period. He offers packages for lunch, dinner, and even dessert. Jia Yuan usually designs the menu a week prior and uploads it on Facebook. Students can place an order simply by sending him a message. Then they just wait for the hot and delicious food to appear in front of them.
The idea of providing homemade meals for university students popped up when Jia saw some of his friends not eating anything the entire day because they were too lazy to cook. He wanted to feed them with cheap and healthy food. “I just couldn’t stand seeing people starve,” he laughs. This was how it started, but it is not an easy task at all. As a Malaysian, Jia Yuan has a multicultural background and he specialises in fusion Asian dishes. He has to amend his recipes all the time, to make sure all ingredients are available in Melbourne.
The Duck Salad is one of Jia Yuan’s favourite creations. It has received lots of compliments from different events and he proudly calls it “the Famous Duck Salad”. It is an original recipe created by him, under the inspiration of his former head chef. Even though the dish is deemed successful, Jia Yuan—who strives for the best—never stops amending his recipes for even greater flavours and nutrition values.
Jia Yuan’s ultimate goal is to open up his own restaurant café. Apart from working as a chef, he also has experience in waitering and managing. Now, he is a barista in a café. “I want to gain hands-on knowledge in all-rounded areas, to get myself prepared for my own business,” he explains. He is a young man with big dreams, and he is paving his way, step by step.
Being everyone’s chef, Jia Yuan surprises people by telling them, “I never eat the food I cooked”. It’s clear that his sole motivation for becoming a chef is others’ satisfaction and that is where his happiness comes from.
Like D’ Little Chef on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dlilchef