RECIPE FOR SUC­CESS

Townsville Bulletin - - EDUCATION -

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.

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