Jim Leong, Ma's Kitchen, Milk Market

Jim Leong, Ma's Kitchen, Milk Market

Food just like mother used to make, says Jim, who loves the weather in Ireland - no joke!

What time do you get up?

I wake up around 7.45am. Have a shower and get myself ready for the day.

What is your normal breakfast?

Well, for someone who runs a restaurant serving breakfast, I’m never short of anything to eat. I could have the full Irish, eggs, crepes or granola, but I usually love something simple like a couple of slices of toast with butter and a good cup of coffee.

Do you go for a walk or to the gym before/after the office?

I try to make time early in the evening taking my son Aidan out for a walk whenever the weather permits. He is 13 months old. It’s hard finding the time when you work almost every day of the week, but like every other parent, I find spending time with my family relaxing and the highlight of my week.

You arrive at the office at what time?

We are open from 9am every day, except Sunday when we open from 11am, so I’m usually at work by 8.30am getting the place ready for business for the day.

What are your first duties?

We have a reputation for supplying some of the best breakfasts in Limerick, so there’s a lot of prep work that goes into preparing the sausages, rashers, hash browns, sauteed mushrooms and black and white puddings. We also do a vegetarian breakfast with our special veggie sausages. Our eggs range - Eggs Benedict, Eggs Royale and Eggs Blackstone - also takes a lot of preparation. The crepes, French toast and our homemade granola and pancakes all take time to get just right. So my first duties are all about the breakfast. We are lucky to have a lot of repeat, loyal customers, so we can’t disappoint.

How many cups of coffee/tea would you drink a day?

Ironically, considering I have lattes and cappuccinos at hand, I probably drink only one or two cups a day of either tea or coffee, as I prefer boiled water more.

What is normal lunch - do you have a favourite place?

I don't normally have lunch until 4pm when the shop closes as lunch hours are usually busy for me.

I’ll usually have something off our lunch menu – sandwiches, vol-au-vents, burgers, or a rice dish like curry. It’s not an extensive menu, but it’s a good selection that people like and keep coming back for. There’s enough variety for me to have something different every day.

Do you have you have many meetings during the day?

Other than meeting with suppliers, no. We called our restaurant Ma’s Kitchen because we wanted to sell hearty, flavoursome food. I’m always reviewing our suppliers to get the taste and quality just right. I aim for a Mother Knows Best approach. In our case, our regular customers give us feedback all the time. We go with what the customers tell us, because like mums, they are always right!

What time do you finish up at?

My day in the shop ends at about 4.30pm most days after finishing up some tasks after closing.

Do you watch much television?

No I don't watch television.

Do you read the newspapers?

Yeah, I love reading online versions as it’s more convenient with just a simple click rather than having to flip pages.

What do you do to relax?

As I work most days of the week, I always look forward to being able to spend time with my partner Ashley Tan and our 13-month old son Aidan. I moved here from Malaysia in 2010 and one of the things I love is the Irish weather. People laugh at that, but where I come from it was more than 30 degrees every day. I love to relax in the mild Irish weather with my family. Compared to Malaysia, Ireland is far less hectic.

Are you able to leave the office behind?

Ma’s Kitchen is a labour of love. Coming here from Malaysia and setting up my own cafe and restaurant took a lot of hard work, but it’s been worth every hour. Have putting so much into it, it’s always on my mind, but in a good way. I love Ireland and I’m grateful to have a job I enjoy.

What is a perfect work day?

Everyday is a perfect working day for me! There could never be a bigger blessing than being able to serve my customers day in day out, new or regulars. It’s their company that keeps me going.

Do you ever ‘lose the cool’ and if so what would make you annoyed?

Well… having been in the service sector for almost 20 years, it has taught me a lot about interacting with people, and that the most important thing is to be yourself and enjoy life. I think the chances of me losing my cool are next to nothing but, hey, we are all human after all.

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