Chef Jimmy Han – Exploring Culinary Creations, Award Achievements & Telling Stories With food

Inspirational, sensational and fully immersed in exploring culinary creations, we talk with 2023 Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award winner, Jimmy Han, about his favourite comfort food, the stories he tells stories through his food, who inspires him most and his ultimate achievement as Golden Chef of the Year.

Coming so far in a short time, young chef Jimmy Han is the proud commis chef at ARU restaurant under the guidance of Khanh Nguyen, (of The Age Good Food Guide 2023 – Restaurant of the Year Victoria; The Age Good Food Guide 2024 – One Hat). Its menu is based on blends of Asian and modern Australian cuisines, creating a new fusion of flavours. Jimmy has had developed his skills in experimenting with ingredients using a variety of traditional cooking techniques, from fermentation and smoking, to curing and preserving meat and fish. The end results are a harmonious flavour that showcase the best of both culinary traditions, creating a unique and flavourful experience.

Abalone en Croute, with oyster spinach ravioli and yabby bisque.

The young chef is also studying IV commercial cookery at the renowned William Angliss Institute in Melbourne. He loves what he’s doing and is enjoying a new life building his career in Australia, soaking up the culture, ingredients and lifestyle the country has to offer.

Having been in Australia for the last 18 months, Jimmy has enjoyed immersing himself in the country’s diverse culinary scene, which has been a constant source of inspiration to him. Inspired by chefs Josh Niland and Erchen Chang, Jimmy is already part of the Australian Culinary Federation Young Chefs Club (Victoria), helping organise dinner events, design menus and showcasing collaborative talent.

Jimmy’s love for cooking and all things culinary began in Taiwan, where he studied at the globally renowned cooking school, Kai Ping. Jimmy was then fortunate to have the opportunity to work alongside head chef Andre Chiang, at the two-Michelin starred restaurant RAW.

For Jimmy, being a chef is all about celebrating creativity with food and this is worked into his everyday lifestyle. Outside of work and studies, Jimmy spends his time exploring the local markets in search of ingredients, exploring new foods and thinking about new recipes he can conjure up.

As food has become Jimmy’s ultimate passion, he loves the process of starting with a few ingredients, and working them together to bring to life new concepts in his mind, sharing stories through his food.

Scallop, chimichurri, avocado, crispy mustard green pea, saltbush, pear.

One of his favourite dishes at ARU is the coriander pickled mushroom, tofu curd and lemon myrtle oil, served with a Chinese doughnut.

“We use different kinds of mushrooms like enoki, shitake, baby king brown shimeji with spice, served with our home-made tofu curd and torched Chinese doughnut for dipping.”

Inspired by chefs René Redzepi and Douglas McMaster during the pandemic, Jimmy has done copious amounts of research around different food philosophies – in particular on fermentation and whole ingredient cooking.
“Reading up on these has given me the knowledge about how to preserve ingredients and transform the flavour of the same ingredient,” he says.

King fish Gravlax open sandwich, crème fraiche, blood orange, mustard oil.

Jimmy has also learned how to use every part of an ingredient to create a dish, a technique inspired by Josh Niland. Since coming to Australia, Jimmy has also learned more about ingredients native to Australia, experimenting with them to marry well in different dishes.

So, when he’s not cooking for others, are there any unusual foods he enjoys most on a personal level? Jimmy loves the traditional Chinese dish, the ‘Thousand-Year Egg’ with tofu and soy sauce – a true comfort dish for him.

And who would he most want to invite for dinner if he could invite anyone? Jimmy’s answer is simple: His parents and his girlfriend and, for them, it would be food that goes back to his roots – traditional Taiwanese cuisine all the way.

Black pepper vanilla bavarois, sable raspberry nashi pear jelly, lemon gel, shaved macadamia, white chocolate soil.

His last meal would be the street food he remembers from his hometown, the four herbs soup (Si Shen Tang) served with gua bao.

Of all the restaurants Jimmy would like to visit, French Laundry is his top choice where he’s secured work experience this month!