Michael Nguyen from Thai Hoa Asian Groceries played host to The Jam Pantry kitchen team last Monday. It’s a monthly tradition that we’ve recently established to keep our creative juices flowing and learn about new produce to include in our flipping boards. He was a spectacular host with his knowledge and passion for his produce very evident, making him our latest “Funky Nanna”.
1. Tell us what it is you do so well. (You’re allowed to be modest).
I provide fresh, locally grown produce that is harder to find than your average fruit and Veg and by local I mean literally minutes from our shop.
2. How did the fire get in your belly? What fed your “Aha” moment?
I was able to source a particular product for a customer in the most obvious place for me and yet for so many reasons these growers were unable to access the wholesale market at Rocklea. This is when my produce obsession began.
3. What is that one thing that keeps you awake at night on a juicy creative level?
Thinking about how I’m going to find the next exciting grower/farmer in the local area.
4. The most out of the box, lateral, no one said it would work thing that you ever did to problem solve or create a concept or product?
I introduced more conventional western produce and paired it with Asian produce to a very competitive Asian demographic. Its been a massive challenge but extremely rewarding.
5. What does a typical work day mean for you, besides juggling and no sleep?
My day is full of eating! I pick and taste all of the produce that comes in, to make sure everything is at its’ best, bursting with flavour and the perfect texture before we even think of displaying it on the shop floor.
6. What is your proudest achievement to date; your “Nanna” moment?
I love that I’ve been able to connect some of the smaller older generation growers, who usually don’t speak a word of English, with customers who are passionate about utilising their produce.
7. Which Australians in your particular field are tickling your fancy at the moment? They don’t need to be known, just inspiring.
Graeme Twine who co-owns and directs Suncoast Fresh, the leading fruit and vegetable wholesale company on the Sunshine coast. Suncoast Fresh supplies the majority of the coast’s top end restaurants and part of this success has arisen from Graeme’s passion for sourcing quality local produce. Graeme is considered a fruit and vegetable ambassador and has created interest in the region’s produce from as far away as Singapore. He taught me to look for produce that tastes as they should and not to settle for less, no matter what the price. Flavour should win over appearance EVERYTIME.
8. Where can we find you?
Thai Hoa Asian Groceries,
Shop A Inala Civic Centre,
Corsair Ave, Inala, 4077
Ph 07 3879 8882
Our subsequent boards have been filled with traditional Vietnamese flavours and produce given our cheeky twist. We’ve certainly been inspired!