A Melbourne Chef Turning to Tradition

Sep 24, 2020

How Nicole turned to the recipes of her grandmothers to get her through this global pandemic.

Young Melbourne chef Nicole knows hard work. After moving here 3 years ago from Indonesia to study cookery in Le Cordon Bleu Melbourne, she has been put through her paces to make her way in this challenging and bustling industry. “It was so hard to find a job at that time because I didn’t have any Australian qualifications and my working hours were restricted because I was on a student visa.”

Through sending emails after email and dropping resumes to countless businesses, she secured her first job in a café, then on to Food and Desire Catering company, “in there I learnt a lot of new things which allowed me to get more experience.”

After finishing her Certificate III at Le Cordon Bleu, her industry placement landed her at a top Melbourne restaurant, “I had a trial at Merchant Osteria Veneta to get a second job, but a miracle happened! The head chef said he will send me to Grossi Florentino upstairs. I accepted the offer right away and I went to work.”

Nicole worked there for 2 years and after finishing the placement, got her contract extended, allowing her to work as the first casual chef so she could continue her study at that time. After working at Grossi Florentino, Nicole began working as Chef de Partie at Marnong Estate in February 2020.

“When I got the job at Marnong Estate, I was in the middle of applying for my post-graduate visa. My post-graduate visa got approved at the same time that COVID-19 happened, and unfortunately it’s now been very hard for me to fulfill the required working hours for my post-graduate visa because I haven’t worked since the pandemic forced all restaurants to close.”

This is quite a familiar tale across the industry. So many visa holders found themselves in such a difficult position with no job, no access to government benefits and bills to pay. But, like any hard working and resilient professionals we have seen rise up during these difficult times, so too did Nicole.


“Since I had a lot of free time, I started to explore more about Indonesian foods. My grandmas taught me a lot about how to cook Indonesian food, both of them have small food businesses in Jakarta, Indonesia.”

“They are like the best of the best, their food is amazing! So I use my grandmas’ recipes and adjust them a little bit so people can enjoy more based on the Australian palette (because most of the Indonesian food is so spicy!).”

By the end of July, this young chef was ready to bring her traditional Indonesian cooking to the public, and started her home-based Indonesian food business, Mangan Yuk!, meaning ‘Let’s Eat! In Javanese and Bataknese.

“I then decided to open a home-based Indonesian food business. I registered my food to my local council, got all the documents approved and now I can sell my food legally and safely.”

“My vision for Mangan Yuk! is to introduce Indonesian culture and food to the locals. The response has been amazing how they love the Indonesian food that I make!”

Nicole knows that this has not been an easy road, with many others like her struggling to get through this unexpected and extremely difficult time.

“I hope I can inspire fellow temporary visa holders to never give up and always have faith.”

For more information and to get your hands on some of Nicole’s delicious Indonesian cuisine, head to @manganyuk.au.

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