Rowena Yip
Rowena Yip

Rowena Yip

Born: Hong Kong, China

History: I am the Head Chef at Sun Wah Mordialloc, which has been in business since 1969. Born in Hong Kong, I came to Australia shortly after getting married to my husband Albert, who has been in the food business from a very young age.  Now some 37+ years in the restaurant business, I started off as a hostess of the restaurant – which has exposed me to taste all different kinds of cuisines and cultures. Now I can’t live without the inner life as a chef. My husband is the one who inspired me to become a chef and taught me the basis of Chinese Asian cookery. I love to read cookbooks and am passionate about creating innovative dishes that are simple – especially using the slow cooking process like we do for our braised beef ribs. Outside of the kitchen, I am a big TV drama fan and love yoga.

Have you always wanted to be a chef?

I started in our restaurant as host of front of house, but I certainly didn’t have dreams of becoming a chef at that time! Many years later I was working as a chef and my passion grew year on year. I’m pleased to say that it is still growing and is bordering on obsession nowadays! I’ve taught myself on the job as well as learning from my husband, fellow chefs, research and a lot of trial and error.

How would you define your style?

Modern Asian Fusion. I love cooking with our amazing local produce in a more modern style. Using really fresh produce is incredibly satisfying. When it is cooked correctly it really takes some beating, especially when creating dishes that are healthy like my blue swimmer crab dumplings with olive oil.

What is you feature flavour these days?

Natural Asian flavours – mainly star-anise, schuain chillies, fish sauce, lemon grass and how to balance the flavours to work together.

Obsessive compulsive about?

I’m sort of a perfectionist and challenge myself to get all of the flavours right. Plus, cleanliness and order – I can’t stand a kitchen that is not organised. 

Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:

My husband. Without him I wouldn’t be doing what I love today. 

What do you love about this business?

The best part has to be working in a great team and environment, as well as being able to be creative and ambitious every day. The worst has got to be the stress that the job entails, which is very hard not to take home when it’s a family business. The unsociable hours can be a little tough too!

An ingredient you can’t live without?

It has definitely got to be star-anise and tapioca flour.

Signature dish:

Our Ginger Pear Scallops with crispy pork belly and golden pearl sago, it has a full punch of the flavours that seem unusual but it works. Each of the elements are individually cooked in different ways to create variations of flavour and texture.

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