Have a more unlikely couple ever guided a successful restaurant venture from such underfunded, unpromising beginnings?
Chinese Whispers: In mid 2010, rumours began to circulate about the imminent opening of a new Barossa Viennese restaurant. With the region’s rich Teutonic heritage, this seemed entirely appropriate. The good burghers of Tanunda began to notice that the old Schrapel family residence, a long-vacant, elegant building was being coaxed from undeserved oblivion. But when news got around that 90 Murray Street was to become the site for a Vietnamese eating-house, that a young lady with neither professional cooking experience nor financial backing had the nerve to foist this unfamiliar cuisine onto the local community, a tsunami of cautions and ominous predictions from all quarters buffeted the prospective restaurateurs. And yet fermentAsian opened, with a motley collection of second-hand restaurant furniture, ovens and fridges and an unlikely team of kitchen and waiting staff characterised more by enthusiasm than capability.
During the five years since that inauspicious opening, much has been written about the miracle of Tuoi Do. Such were the stress levels during those first weeks, she would be seen dry-retching in the back car park after busy Saturday night services; less than two years later, whilst heavily pregnant with her second child, she was awarded the coveted SA ‘Chef of the Year’ award in the 2012 Advertiser Food Awards.