RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
with diversity and adventure, but it wasn’t always an easy trot to the top.
Tak Young Wong was born and raised in the bustling city of Mumbai ( formally known as Bombay), India as the youngest of five children. Coming from a family of chefs, it is no surprise that a love of food had always sizzled inside of him. “My family has a very strong and proud cooking background — my father was a chef, and so were my three brothers and even my brother- in- law,” Wong blissfully recalls. The young food enthusiast studied authentic Cantonese and Szschuan chefs and by the ripe age of 20, began an apprenticeship with Uncle Santung at ‘ The Chinese Palace.’ After working rigorously to building his proficiency and perfecting the artistries of cooking, Wong began to climb the culinary food chain and was recruited to many of Mumbai’s high end restaurants, including the five star Ling’s Ravlion. However, like any other young and aspirational student, Wong dreamt of travelling the world. Nonetheless, he was oblivious as to how his relentless determination and growing love for food, complimented by even greater cooking skill, would soon allow his dreams to pave the pathway to a gleaming future.
Up and off Tak Young Wong went to Dubai; a hub for labourers to work long hard hours to make quick cash. Yet, the innocent chef stumbled upon a treasure he would value a great deal more than any wealth in that buzzing city. He stumbled across his first and only love.
“Food was my one love at this point, I never quite believed in real love. But travelling to Dubai, I met the most beautiful, kind- hearted, young woman named Angelina D’Souza who I fell head over heels for,” Wong gleefully reminisced as a cheesy smile oozed onto his face. When the charming couple met, everything changed for Tak Young Wong, the cynic had become the converted, the sceptic, and an ardent zealot for love. This passionate pair, now married for 18 years, met when they worked together in the Jubile Ali Hotel. They both had two- year contracts where Wong whipped up whimsical wonders of Chinese, Thai and Teppanyaki dishes in the White Orchid Restaurant. Angelina was based in La Fontana, baking extravagant cakes, delectable pastries and every decadent desert possible.
Like a diamond in the rough, Wong worked rigorously until he negotiated the perfect job contract with the extravagant Emirates Tower. However, the deal proved too good to be true when his boss refused to grant him time off to attend his wedding with Angelina. “She was the butter to my chicken and the beet to my root,” Wong tittered, and soon his ripples of laughter became waves of hilarity as the sweetest smile beamed across his face. “My one and only love and I wasn’t going to miss that day for the world!” Fuelled by his passion and strong family values, Tak Young Wong left his job in the Middle East in order to travel back to his loved one and attend his wedding in 1999. How in the world did he make such a tantalising decision to leave the phenomenal job? “In life, friends, money, work, clothes, cars and on and on, they are all temporary; family always come first, they are forever,” Wong wisely advised.
The year 2001 quickly became extraordinary for this newly wedded couple. Not only was their first daughter born, but the small family migrated to the beautiful country of Australia where it’s all about a fair go, the great outdoors and a healthy helping of irony. With such a vibrant mixture of cultures, innovative ideas and a thriving food scene, Australia flourished with prosperity and promise for the family. Although it was a long and tedious immigration process, they have never regretted their relocation. “We adore this gorgeous country and work hard to try and make the most of this migration opportunity. It was definitely one of the greatest decisions we’ve made,” Wong graciously said.
They first explored the sun- soaked capital of Queensland before travelling to a little slice of paradise on the stunning Hamilton Island, where the paved roads are plied by golf buggies, steep, rocky hills are crisscrossed by walking trails, and the white beaches are buzzing with water- sports action. Wong dived right into the splendour and discovered an even greater assortment of gourmet cuisines. He had run up the ranks to become the head chef of multiple restaurants on the exquisite island and learnt to diversify himself, sending every menu from Western to Asian down to the chopping board. By stepping outside of the box and being so open to new and unique ideas, he fostered a garden of rare techniques and talents in the kitchen.
Tak Young Wong’s exquisite assortment of skills, abounding enthusiasm and openmindedness blended perfectly to tantalise his tastebuds, grabbing him an invite to adventure through Kenya and Ethiopia while working for the Arabella Sheraton Hotel. “It was such a beautiful country,” Wong cheerfully recalled, “definitely one to cross off the bucket list.” During this time, the closeknit family frequented safaris and luxuries, enjoying an astounding culinary trip. Seeing such variety between countries, communities and jobs allowed Wong to diversify himself in the kitchen, laying ode to more success in his career.
Since Tak Young Wong’s early start in Mumbai, he has frequented a splendour of leading five- star hotel groups across the globe, before finally moving up to Townsville to take over Benny’s Hot Wok Cafe and bring the restaurant back to its glorious best. Although it was a thrilling prance around the planet, Wong hopes to rest his feet from his bustling globetrotting days and settle down in the delightful city of Townsville. The blissful family are delighted to settle down and spend more adored time together outside of Wong’s hectic work schedule. “We love to have picnics, swim and cook together! Anything that gets us out and about,” Wong cheerful chirped. Nonetheless, their houses are full of totems to their travels and they have definitely learnt the best from them, Wong now fluently speaks an astounding five languages and Angelina can speak a whopping seven!
For this merry family, an anthology of such cuisines has transcendently frothed into an excursion that reflects Wong and his family’s lives and culture. So what does Wong plan for the long trail ahead? “I have always adored cooking and the ability it gives you to magically mix and mash a dash of passion over a few bland ingredients and transform them into new and divine delicacies, all at the touch of your fingertips. I can see myself doing it far, far into the future. I don’t think I could possibly give it up!” Wong said. Such a talent in Townsville has helped to spice up our city and bring new sensations to the palettes of all citizens.