Updated: Mar 5, 2022
Chef Profile - Jonah
My Blue Tea is so proud of our youngest and sunniest chef who makes treats so delectable you'd keep wanting more!
If you've been with My Blue Tea for a while, you'd know who Jonah is, and you'd remember how fun his yummilicious pandan kaya making video was! Many who live far from home have been nostalgic for a taste of creamy fragrant kaya and seeing Jonah's video just made us want to try it too!
Pandan Kaya Recipe by Jonah
Check out the video below! Jonah is a very patient and good cook, he makes it look easy and you'd find that making pandan kaya is not as intimidating as you thought!
Jonah is a feisty seven-year-old baker who has a rare form of skeletal dysplasia. This is a genetic disorder affecting the bones and joints. It hinders growth and development and causes abnormally-shaped bones. This usually occurs in the head, spine, arms and legs.
He also has Hajdu-Cheney syndrome (HCS) which is another rare genetic connective tissue disease. Around the world, there are only 50 known cases of people who have this disease. It is characterised by acroosteolysis of the hands and feet, developmental defects of the bones, teeth and joints.
What this means in the eyes of a child is, Jonah cannot run around freely and play like other children, because his bones are brittle and there is a risk of fracture if he falls. Being repeatedly in a cast for weeks is not how any child would want to spend their days. Going to school in Malaysia has been a challenge and this affects his social life and making friends.
Miyumi is a single mother who made the difficult decision to leave an abusive marriage.
Looking after both Jonah and his younger bother Jamian is entirely on her shoulders, as well as taking on the living and education expenses and legal bills to go through the process of separation.
It has been difficult finding a school that would take both boys, and finding an appropriate educational program that would work for Jonah. She has had to struggle through trying to make things work while working full-time and finding the best way to look after the children and then choosing to give up her job to focus on caring for the boys and helping Jonah grow his dreams.
My Blue Tea together with Brilliant-Online have set up a Go Fund Me campaign to support Jonah with his medical expenses in Melbourne and enable Jonah to fulfil his dreams as a baker.
Love at First Bake
Jonah started baking when he was only four. Talk about finding one's vocation early in life! He started when he saw his mother cooking in the kitchen, and being among all the beautiful ingredients, the myriad of fascinating tools and utensils, the wonderful smells that emerged from the culinary experiments...it became a gentle place for Jonah to be and to focus on something that he enjoyed doing.
Jonah has not looked back since he first got his little fingers into feeling the different textures of ingredients and realising how putting ingredients together can create something as delicious as a fresh, warm cookie.
Head Start in Culinary Career
He may not be able to dash about and engage in playful punches with other children, but Jonah has wisely channeled his energy and focus on his gift - creating delicious treats in his own kitchen. This is Jonah's safe and happy place where there are no limits to his imagination and creativity, where he can continue to learn infinitely and it also gives him something incredibly precious - future independence in society where he is able to use his skills, experience and gifts to earn a living.
Jonah has an advantageously early head start in his career. Jonah is already building up his career even as he undergoes schooling, so he has actually taken on his own career planning in his little hands.
And, Jonah wants to have his own bakery one day.
Miyumi has always taught her children never to give up on their dreams in spite of any difficulties that may come their way. And Jonah has a focused clarity many adults would be envious of. He knows exactly what he wants. And he's going to get it. Jonah Bakes started as a seed for Jonah's baking aspirations and it is actually taking off and has become an empowering motivation for the family.
Too Many Cooks Does Not Spoil the Broth
The family is even thinking of using Jonah Bakes as a platform to help other differently-abled people in Malaysia who love to bake and would welcome the opportunity to use their skills and gain independence.
They are looking for a place with the right infrastructure that is disabled-friendly so that Jonah Bakes can expand from their family kitchen and online platform to a professional culinary space and grow to allow other disabled bakers to join in. Jonah needs time also for his schooling so he has to manage having limited time to bake. With the help of other bakers it can help relieve a bit of load and allow Jonah to have a more balanced day between schooling and baking.
There are future plans to conduct workshops and classes for disabled children who, like Jonah, have found their own special joy in baking. There is also the possibility of catering to cafés and restaurants in the future.
For someone who understands all the heartbreak, frustrations, limitations, stress and fears in managing a disability, passing it on is how Jonah's family gives back to the community and it is a way to support the many stories that may not be heard.
Food for the Soul
Jonah may be seven but he is a true professional. The intensity of his focus when he is baking is inspiring. This is one true chef who respects his work, the space he works in, the quality of the ingredients and how they are handled, and he is meticulous about how the products turn out.
His little brother can be getting over-excited around him but Jonah is far from frazzled and continues to mix, knead, spread, glaze with the concentration of someone tenderly restoring an old painting.
After all, for Jonah, he is creating beautiful food for the soul. Every single cookie that passes through Jonah's hands has been made with respect, attention and dedication.
Life Lessons from Jonah
If you haven't seen Jonah cooking, it goes beyond simply making a dish. Jonah's kind and gentle nature feeds the soul as much as his cookies feed our stomachs. Here's what we learnt from watching Jonah cook!
1) It doesn't have to be perfect.
He is forgiving with himself when he hasn't done something perfectly, and a little "oopsy" is his way of saying, that's okay, we'll keep going or we'll try again!
2) Trust each other.
When Jamian wants to have a go at helping, Jonah is encouraging and quick to let him try. He trusts his assistant and is patient in teaching Jamian.
3) Be caring.
Jonah is also very caring and reminds Jamian to be careful if some steps need a bit more attention. Jonah is also very respectful of his cooking space, and he looks after his tools, his utensils and crockery, always placing them very carefully and neatly aside. This is a chef who likes his work space nice and clean!
4) Be mindful.
Every act of cooking is a joy for Jonah and you feel his genuine excitement as he cooks! He reminds one of how amazing it really is to be able to simply fry an egg and he makes it almost Zen-like in how mindful he is watching the bright yellow liquid bubble, change and morph. When he cooks, he is 100% with his ingredients. No multi-tasking here! A true chef!
5) Enjoy the simple pleasures.
What we take for granted, Jonah appreciates and watching him cook is a way to remind ourselves of so many simple pleasures around us that we are lucky to have. Next time you cook, notice how the smells, colours and textures change, and how we can do so many fun things with different tools around the kitchen!
Yummy in my Tummy!
Happy cookies make the world a better place!
We absolutely agree!
If you haven't tried Jonah's creations, don't miss out on ordering some to try! He delivers nation-wide in Malaysia and he is now an expert in chocolate chip cookies and gingerbread, and his cheddar cheese bons and cocktail bons are a must-have!
Jonah uses quality ingredients such as 00% butter made from fresh Danish milk, local flour, Italian coarse sea salt, and he even adds a local touch by using gula melaka!
Everything is baked with love by Jonah, and it is heartening to know that what started off as a simple hobby to be shared with only friends and family has expanded to communities across the country with people from all over supporting Jonah's aspirations.
Are you inspired yet to bake with love like Jonah?
Follow Jonah for more baking fun here:
Website - https://www.jonahbakes.com/
Make a donation to help Jonah - https://gofund.me/93c233ec