JAVA BOYS TURN­ING UP THE HEAT

DIM­ITRI REID AND BRAN­DON FELIX IN­VITE YOU INTO A WORLD OF COOK­ING

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page - WORDS// JU­LIANNA KERR

“A maz­ing things can hap­pen in a kitchen,” says chef Bran­don Felix, with an un­mis­tak­able sparkle in his eye. Turn­ing to his part­ner in crime, Dim­itri Reid – also a chef – I see that same sparkle.

Th­ese guys are se­ri­ous about food, cook­ing, their busi­ness, hav­ing a laugh and con­nect­ing with peo­ple.

Bran­don and Dim­itri are the men be­hind Java Boy Cook­ing Stu­dio, an op­er­a­tion in Cairns that in­vites the pub­lic to ex­pe­ri­ence an in­ter­ac­tive cook­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that al­lows them to brush up on some of the ba­sic tech­ni­cal skills for the kitchen.

All while hav­ing a great time and feel­ing as if they’re hang­ing out in the kitchen of some great mates. And then there’s the food. The pair of­fers two styles of cook­ing classes – the Java Ex­press for time-poor peo­ple and longer ses­sions that act as themed nights. “We’re look­ing for flavour,” Dim­itri says. “We want to give the cus­tomer a lot of flavour and things that they can du­pli­cate at home.”

While the ex­press classes might fo­cus more on a hand­ful of dishes and some time­sav­ing tech­niques like mak­ing stocks to be frozen for later dishes as well as bet­ter chop­ping and cut­ting, the themed nights give the guys a chance to go all out.

Th­ese have so far in­cluded a Span­ish night, a Moroc­can night and an in­tro­duc­tion to mod­ern Asian cook­ery.

“We’ll do canapes, we’ll do a restu­rantstyle dish bro­ken down into tast­ing por­tions. We’ll even match it with wines and beers,” Bran­don says.

Th­ese classes al­low par­tic­i­pants a unique op­tion in that they can be ac­tively in­volved with the cook­ing process if they choose, or they can just sit back, ob­serve, sam­ple and take it all in. The cus­tomer de­cides.

“It’s def­i­nitely not your tra­di­tional cook­ing class,” Dim­itri says.

“It’s re­ally mod­ern. We wanted to give it a bit of fun. We want to give peo­ple knowl­edge into the di­ver­sity of food that Aus­tralia has to of­fer be­cause we’re such a mul­ti­cul­tural coun­try and we have such a big range of fresh in­gre­di­ents and fresh lo­cal pro­duce.

“And we want to try to pack­age that all to­gether.

“Throw in a bit of ban­ter, a bit of com­edy and you’ve got us.

“It’s some­where you can come in and have a good time, in­ter­act with the chefs and eat to your heart’s con­tent.”

Bran­don says he al­ways en­vi­sioned the classes like a cook­ing show on TV, with an ob­vi­ous ad­van­tage – not only is this show live, but you can ask ques­tions.

“You can stop, you can pause and you get to taste it af­ter,” Bran­don says.

And the ex­pe­ri­ence doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to end when the ses­sion is fin­ished.

Once the cus­tomers have laughed, learned, had an amaz­ing feed and headed home, they might some­times feel like they need a lit­tle bit more in­put.

“It’s not just about us do­ing that one ses­sion and then Bob’s your un­cle, see you later,” Bran­don says.

“I like when peo­ple call me back. I like when they email me, ‘hey, look, I’ve got a quick ques­tion’. “That’s what it’s all about.” Feed­back is key, Dim­itri says. It helps the guys bet­ter con­nect with their cus­tomers and what they take from the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“What I want to do is make our classes con­ta­gious,” Dim­itri says.

“So when peo­ple come ex­pe­ri­ence Java Boy we’re pass­ing on knowl­edge but it also in­spires them and they leave want­ing more of cook­ing.”

Bran­don says there’s another cru­cial el­e­ment that en­cour­ages peo­ple to pur­sue more ex­pe­ri­ences in the kitchen. “Cook­ing’s fun,” he says. “It has to be fun.” It is clear once you meet the guys that, as se­ri­ous as they are about cook­ing – Dim­itri says he cooks “like my life de­pends on it” – and de­liv­er­ing a worth­while ex­pe­ri­ence to cus­tomers, they have def­i­nitely mas­tered the fun part.

“We se­ri­ously like what we do,” Dim­itri says. “Peo­ple are the rea­son why I keep cook­ing. That’s what I love about it. Con­nect­ing with peo­ple.”

Bran­don sec­onds that, say­ing con­nect­ing and hav­ing fun with the peo­ple is part of what keeps the pair mo­ti­vated.

“When we’re do­ing a class with peo­ple, noth­ing’s forced for us,” he says.

“We’re very com­fort­able be­hind those stoves and chat­ting to peo­ple.

“It’s such a plea­sure to do it and it’s fun to see the im­me­di­ate ef­fect of what we do.”

Java Boy Cook­ing Stu­dio is part of a big­ger pic­ture for Dim­itri and Bran­don, one that will hope­fully in­clude a work­ing restau­rant for ap­pren­tice chefs.

They look for­ward to one day com­bin­ing their dif­fer­ent strengths in the kitchen to help oth­ers achieve their cook­ing dreams.

In the mean­time, they will con­tinue to en­ter­tain and teach those who want a fun, in­for­ma­tive evening with de­li­cious food and ter­rific ser­vice.

“By the end of the class, we feel like we al­most know th­ese peo­ple, which is quite amaz­ing,” Bran­don says.

“It’s like we’re invit­ing them into our house and at the end of the class, we walk them out­side, we say good night to them and off they go. It’s very per­sonal.”

Java Boy Cook­ing Stu­dio’s next class – Asian Hawker/Street Food – is an af­ter­noon ses­sion, next Sun­day from noon-3pm. Find them on Face­book. Book­ings es­sen­tial.

Pictures: MARIAH REID

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