Tel Aviv, Israel.
When I was growing up, there was a lot of pressure from my parents to initially study accountancy and while I was learning that trade I worked part-time at a bakery as a dish hand. I soon began making pastries and applied for a cooking degree before my compulsory three-year stint in the army.
I was placed in one of Israel’s largest and busiest army bases, where I had to make thousands of desserts each day for the privates, as well as for special functions for commanders and sergeants. When I was 21, I landed in Australia and worked in Melbourne for five years before I opened up my own café on Thursday Island. Looking for a change, I’m now on the Sunshine Coast and have just opened Mykies by the Bay, my most amazing venture yet.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
I did not necessarily want to be a Chef always, although food has always been a passion of mine. The conversation around food and the preparation of fresh, homemade food has been in our family’s make-up for as long as I can remember. It’s certainly a cultural thing.
From farmers market hot spot discoveries and where to find the best ingredients to make new recipes as well as kitchen tips and secrets, food has always been an excitable topic for the Arjuan family. Food is linked with love, unity and passion. In Moroccan and Yemen tradition, getting together around the table as a family, sharing stories and ideas, while enjoying the food is a daily routine.
I was always very curious about food preparation and mixing different ingredients together from a young age. I would enjoy hanging around the kitchen with the ladies and help peel, chop or mix different things. I wanted to be involved and just really enjoyed myself in that environment.
I loved cooking and became really good at it. The best part is the feedback and to know that people are loving what you have prepared. So, when I was a teenager I started to think more seriously about the future and it was about then that I started thinking about becoming a Chef.
How would you define your style?
Outside of the box and modern. I like to pour my own personality into the food, even if it is a classic recipe. I like to consider myself as being innovative with a young approach as I’m flavour driven and I always have local and seasonal produce in mind as I eat with the seasons.
What is your feature flavour these days?
Fresh garden herbs and in particular, parsley. I enjoy the versatility when creating new flavours.
Obsessive compulsive about?
Art, healthy food and my dog Wes.
Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:
When I lived in Melbourne, I worked with the Ferlito Brothers. Old Carmelo and Paolo taught me the art of pastry making. We’ve become like a family.
My family is my greatest inspiration as it’s always been about people and getting together. My Dad is Moroccan and in that culture, every dinner is a feast. As a family we were very open minded and excited about new flavours and different food combinations.
What do you love about this business?
I have always been a hospitable person. It is a damn hard gig, but seeing people enjoy and be satisfied by my food gives me the energy to keep going.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?
Moroccan whole fish marinated in herbs, garlic, ginger, thyme, sage and parsley topped with fresh coriander and cooked crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, served with a seasonal garden salad. The curious thing about this dish is that the best flavours that you get from the fish come from unusual parts like the fin, head or cheek, it is a full flavour experience.
Falafel made from activated chickpeas, herbs and garlic served with roasted eggplants, roasted chilli, Israeli pickles, home-made hummus and tahini sauce, with flat bread and a garden salad.