1. How long have you been serving your amazing food at the Holm Oak Cellar Door?
Bird n Herd launched at Holm Oak in September 2018, and we’ve just started our third season here.
2. Tell us about your early life.
I was born in Malaysia to Chinese parents, and we moved to Australia when I was six. My mum ran her own preschool back in Malaysia, so I spent a lot of time with her there. When we moved to Australia, we settled in the Western suburbs of Sydney. It wasn’t a very multicultural place when I was six – my two sisters and I were the only three Asians at our primary school. I became good at assimilating into the Aussie way very quickly!
3. What does a typical day involve? What does your role involve?
I’m a stay-at-home Dad during the week, so I run Bird n Herd on weekends and do some catering for events. During the week I transport my kids to and from school, ferry them to their after-school activities, and manage the household – which for some reason seems to involve doing lots and lots of laundry! We also have a little hobby farm, which always has a never-ending list of jobs to do!
My prep for weekend service generally starts on the Thursday before. On the weekends, I’m up early to do final prep on the food and get everything organised for the day at Holm Oak.
4. Why did you choose a career in hospitality?
Before we moved to Tassie, I worked for Commonwealth Bank in Asset Finance. After moving to Tassie and settling in as a stay-at-home Dad, I found myself investigating the idea of running a food truck as a part time business. I found my passion for barbequing smoked meats a few years before we left Sydney, so this seemed like a natural choice of cuisine for the food truck. Food is generally central to Chinese gatherings, so it has always featured in my life, but it wasn’t until I left the corporate world behind that I found myself interested in making a career out of food.
5. What do you like most about running Bird n Herd?
I have a passion for smoking meats, but it’s the customer service side of my business that I really love. I love talking with people and finding out more about them. I like to make sure I deliver quality food and seeing the enjoyment my customers get from eating my food is incredibly satisfying and rewarding.
6. Tell us about your customers at Holm Oak.
It’s the wide variety of customers we meet and serve that make it so rewarding. However, the most rewarding are customers who return over and over again. It’s the repeat customers who really show that people are enjoying your product.
7. Why do you think the partnership between Bird n Herd and Holm Oak works so well?
Food and wine naturally go together so it’s a no brainer to have food options at the cellar door. With that being said, it’s a fine balance between a cellar door and a restaurant and being set-up out the front means that the cellar door staff can spend time focussing on their core product – the wines.
I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity that Bec and Tim have allowed me and look forward to many more seasons working together.
8. What’s the best thing about your job?
I love talking to customers, meeting new people and being part of the local community. It’s great to chat to customers who have an interest in slow cooking. Teaching and helping others learn a new method of cooking is an absolute pleasure.
9. What do you love doing when you’re not at work?
It’s all about the journey to self-sufficiency. We live on 5 acres and I have a passion for understanding where our food comes from, knowing what my family are consuming and the environmental impacts of how we grow our meat, fruit, and veggies.
It’s a wonderful experience considering our city slicker background. Our whole family are learning so much!
10. Favourite Holm Oak wine? And your best food & wine match?
I’m actually not much of a wine drinker, but my wife loves her wine. I know the Holm Oak NV Sparkling and Protégé Pinot Noir are her favourites. I think any food with those two options would suit her! However, I know she really loves pairing the Protégé with my Brisket Burger.