MY BLUE TEA CHEF PROFILE
Jeffery has a Masters of Science degree under his belt, or rather, under his apron, but we cannot imagine Jeffery working in an office with computers, diagrams and formulas.
He started working as an engineer when he was training himself in baking. He worked his way up from waiter to apprentice to pastry chef and sous chef. And he was finally able to devote himself full-time to Cheffery's Kitchen in 2018.
Getting to the Heart of Cooking
Whenever chefs share with us their history and how they started, we are always amazed, and so grateful that they put in the hard work and courage to make a career change to become chefs. Jeffery Liew is one such chef.
Connecting with the Past
We are so glad Jeffery Liew did not stay in the Sciences! Jeffery's culinary touch is one that reminds you of the good old days and of home. He is proud of his Malaysian and Peranakan roots and keeping the tradition and culture alive by introducing it to Australia is what makes Cheffery's Kitchen stand out. Whenever Jeffery cooks, he has a pair of eyes looking forward with his creativity and innovation in fusing the best of different culinary worlds, and he also has a pair of eyes that look to the past, embracing his heritage and honouring the food and dishes his parents grew up with. Each time he cooks a traditional dish, it is like a little time travel for him to experience what his parents ate as children. It is a beautiful, intimate way to be connected with one's family and culture.
Giving Back from the Heart
When Jeffery first set up Cheffery's Kitchen, he was very clear about his mission - to give back to the community. My Blue Tea has always been drawn to chefs who share our values of giving back to the community. Read more here about how we give back to the community with our sustainable farming practices. We admire Jeffery's simple humility - he does not put his culinary skills on a pedestal as the main highlight of his career. He is highly dedicated to doing his part for the less fortunate and sharing with people who are experiencing difficult times.
Having lost his father to cancer, Jeffery understands the difficulties people go through when there is an illness in the family. He takes part in the Biggest Morning Tea every year - it is his hope that one day, the world can be cancer-free and nobody would have to suffer the way his family did when his father battled the disease. Jeffery's signature macarons may look petite and delicate but he has a huge, rock solid heart of gold when it comes to paying it forward. Earlier this year, he did fundraising for the bushfire victims in Australia. And he does not stop there. He also sells pastries and kuih to fundraise for the homeless. Jeffery is a chef who genuinely cooks from his heart.
Blending East and West
Cooking is an art that is full of surprises. As long as you are willing to experiment and keep trying, you get a delicious reward at the end. Hard work, but it is worth it. Jeffery spent a long time fusing his love for robust, wholesome Malaysian food and desserts with the delicate elegance of French pastries. It may have sounded like a wild idea at the beginning to ask, "can one combine the savoury spiciness of the iconic Malaysian dish Nasi Lemak with the sweetness of a classic French macaron?" It took Jeffery a year of patient experimenting in the kitchen to perfect this unique East meets West recipe. It meant creating a spicy sambal buttercream and making the coconut macaron shells topped with crunchy fried anchovies. Even just saying it makes our mouths water! Definitely a challenge and Jeffery had the happy help of his wife to do taste tests and give honest feedback to help him create this savoury dessert. (We would gladly volunteer for future taste tests of new recipes if his wife wants a break!)
Food for When You Miss Home
For many who came to Australia for work, study or family, homesickness can appear in the form of craving for food from home. Jeffery remembers his early days in Adelaide. It was difficult to get his beloved, comforting 'kuihs' (Malaysian bite-sized desserts). As they say, necessity is the mother of inventions, and Jeffery got right down to making his own kuih by trial and error. It did not take him long to develop his own recipes and even start selling his own kuihs in Adelaide. His kuihs found their way into the stomachs and hearts of many Singaporeans and Malaysians living in Australia, who appreciated how his food was helping them cope with their homesickness. It is an achievement for any chef when people say the quality of the food is excellent, but for people to say how the food has gone straight to the cockles of their hearts and given them a sense of comfort, that is quite another level to achieve for a chef! For those of you who are lucky to live in Adelaide, if you have a chance to get hold of Jeffery's onde-onde (Malaysian-style glutinous rice ball), make sure you grab a dozen or more to stock up for those moments of homesickness!
Traditional Made New
Jeffery has since gone on to create other amazing fusion pastries at Cheffery's Kitchen such as the kaya (traditional coconut jam) macaron and even a teh tarik (special 'pulled' tea) macaron! Whenever we share My Blue Tea's ingredients with different chefs, we never quite know what they would cook up. Jeffery bowled us over with his pandan and blueberry cheesecake macarons made with My Blue Tea's pandan powder and butterfly blue pea flower powder. He was also the first in Adelaide to whip up pandan hot cross buns with our pandan powder! He has made the distance between the East and West a lot closer with his culinary creations. And wait till you try his pandan milo macaron - one bite is enough to remind you of home as well as awaken your tastebuds to a new exciting blend of flavours! And for the true-blue hardcore Malaysians out there who swear by your durians, you have to try Jeffery's durian kaya made with My Blue Tea's durian powder! In fact, his durian kaya sells out very quickly! Yet another Jeffery creation you need to stock up on!
What we admire about the chefs we have met is how they are never satisfied with just one achievement or one project. It feels like they never stop cooking! Jeffery goes beyond conquering traditional recipes and Malaysian-French innovations. He is also venturing into vegan cakes! Again, it was due to a lack of vegan cakes that he started experimenting and learning about vegan ingredients and cooking. He learnt to bake vegan cakes and play with the flavours to make it taste and feel like a normal cake. For those with a sweet tooth, this is good news as vegan cakes are healthier! This means, more desserts, guilt-free! Jeffery has since then expanded his vegan range to include vegan treats that are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and refined sugar-free. There is something for everyone.
Jeffery counts himself lucky that he is able to turn his passion into his full-time career. He gets to be creative every single day at Cheffery's Kitchen, creating new treats that have traditional tastes as a foundation and which is given a contemporary twist to excite the modern palate. Preserving Peranakan culture is a value he holds very closely in his heart and knowing his food brings joy and comfort to people is his best reward.
We are really glad Jeffery first came to Adelaide as an international student in 2005. Who would have imagined the contributions he would be making at that time? Thanks to the faith and support from Jeffery's family to help him continue in his culinary career, we are fortunate to get to enjoy his wonderful creations here.