John: Yayu welcome to our Speakers slot and can I ask you to tell us a little about yourself.
Yayu: Hi John, thank you for the invitation. I grew up in Blitar in Indonesia with my parents and 5 brothers. When I was 2 years old our home was attacked by Communists and we were forced to flee. We travelled around constantly until moving to Melbourne when I was 17 years old.
I then went on to study Biochemistry which led me to a job with Esso. I met my husband Chris whilst he was down on holiday and we kept in touch. Eventually, we married and I moved to Wimborne, had 3 children and started my own catering business and art classes whilst working at The Minster Press.
John: That’s great, so how did your love of Indonesian food start?
Yayu: My interest began at a very early age. My grandmother and mother would teach me to make traditional Javanese dishes that had been passed down through the family. I would then use this knowledge to cook for my mother when she was sick and later in restaurants around Melbourne.
John: I see from your website that you also “teach” Art, how did that happen?
Yayu: Art has always been a passion of mine, but I really began to take to it after I moved to Wimborne and took lessons from local artist Liz De Bray. Years later I decided to share my knowledge with others so I started teaching botanical illustration. The whole experience has been very rewarding as I have a lovely group of students and friends who keep coming back.
I hope readers will look at my Website and Facebook Pages where they will find much more information. http://www.atasteofrasasayang.co.uk/ and . Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/yayu.rasasayang.
John: I know some traditional Rotary Clubs hold International Food evenings where members cook food from different countries. Is this something you feel could work with Indonesian food and what would you serve?
Yayu: Certainly! I would love to hold demonstrations and give everyone the chance to try some of my food. Usually at events I serve popular dishes such as:
– Lumpia a la Yayu (Chicken spring rolls served with salad and sweet chilli sauce)
– Mie Goreng (Special fried noodles with vegetables in sweet Indonesian soy sauce garnished with fried shallot and egg)
Indonesian food is very varied just like our culture, having been influenced by surrounding countries and past as a major trade market which is what makes it so colourful and exciting!
I know many people in the UK do not like spicy food so I always make sure to accommodate different tastes.
John: Do you have a favourite hobby when you are not working?
Yayu: Other than cooking and art I enjoy gardening and experimenting in growing my own fruits, herbs, spices and vegetables which allows me to provide customers with food free from pesticides and unnecessary chemicals. I also enjoy design and making my own dresses.
John: What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?
Yayu: It would be fantastic if I could increase the popularity of Indonesian cuisine in the UK. At the moment Indonesian restaurants can only really be found in major cities like London. I hope to continue working with the British Embassy in Jakarta, the British Chamber and the UKTI to promote Indonesian culture and build bridges between our two countries.
A little more locally I will be growing my catering business, finishing the next volume of my cookery book Yayu’s Simply Indonesian and holding Indonesian themed events such as Discover Indonesia on Mill Lane (June 13th-14th) at Wimborne Minster Folk Festival.
John: Thank you so much Yayu for sharing this with us, certainly I am grateful to Jennie Franklin and Richard Blunderfield, for the excellent photos. As a man who has thrived on Roast Beef and Yorkshire you have certainly expanded my tastes!