Cooking Condiments & Seasonings By Malaysian Chef

Raised in a family of cooks, Aaron got his start as a chef at the age of 9 helping his father around the house. He later started doing part-time after-school kitchen jobs at age 14 and continued to work in professional kitchens as an adult.

In May 2020, Aaron quit his job in a commercial kitchen to work as a private chef for private dinners, events, and homes. The 24-year-old is also said to download cooking tutorials online for people to watch and learn.

Some of Aaron’s proudest accomplishments are being part of Bali’s Locavore Restaurant and KL’s Dewakan Restaurant / Image Credit: Junk Jars

“A private dinner I had recently was cooking for the president of Genting Group and his whole family. I went to his house and cooked a family style dinner, ”Aaron said when Vulcan Post asked about his clientele.

“Then MCO hit it, and hit it again, things were going in a rough state with me being out of a job, doing independent cooking and private dining became a lot harder to run due to limitations.

Unemployed while stuck at home, he turned to a friend, Yue Yang, to start Junk Jars together.

Bottling process

They currently have 3 flavors available / Image credit: Junk Jars

With a private dinner outside of the photo during MCO, the duo reflected on what they could do for the deliveries everyone was skipping. They didn’t want to sell ordinary ready meals and compete with other restaurants.

So, they landed on the sale of ready-made condiments that could complement existing meals or be used as an ingredient for cooking. It was a more sustainable product and something different to offer in the plethora of food options on Grab, Foodpanda, etc.

Aaron’s co-founder Yue Yang is no stranger to e-commerce itself. He is a full-time web designer for a retail company and was involved in a bottled kimchi business during the first MCO. When that failed, he wanted to start over.

His confidence in running Junk Jars was bolstered by Aaron’s long history with food too; he believed the private chef had the expertise to turn Junk Jars into a big business.

While Yue Yang takes care of the company’s marketing, Aaron is the mastermind behind its Malaysian-inspired flavors. They are:

  • Crunchy Belachan with coconut,
  • Pesto Padi with smoked green pepper and
  • XO salted tangerine sauce.

Each jar contains 200g of seasoning and costs RM29 each. Aaron told Vulcan Post that working in Bali and coming from a Peranakan family is the root and inspiration behind incorporating such ingredients into his products today.

However, convincing Malaysians to try such flavors can be difficult, especially as an online store unable to present the condiments in bazaars and events via tasting sessions. Therefore, they found other ways to market it.

Virtually convince customers

Most of their customers have the same reactions to their products. “How can I eat it?” and “What can I do with this?” are some of their most frequently asked questions.

To curb this, the team would post cooking tutorials on Junk Jars’ Instagram to show how they can use condiments in a dish. For example, they made a Padi Chili Pesto Rice Bowl and a Salted Mandarin XO Char Siew.

As an online store, partners also collect customer reviews and comments to educate more subscribers. Additionally, they will be compiling Instagram Stories in their Highlights section on how customers themselves use the products.

Aaron’s Chilli Padi Pesto Rice Bowl and Salted Mandarin XO Char Siew / Image Credit: Junk Jars

“We Malays take pride in our ability to take on spicy dishes, and I guess that’s where Aaron’s expertise comes in. He can take a familiar taste and add a twist to it,” a Yue Yang said about their flavors.

As Yue Yang has a full-time job while Aaron is freelance as a private chef, the jars are sold on pre-order and shipped over the weekend. They still operate in the kitchen of Aaron’s house for now, but the chef intends to move him to a restaurant he is also setting up next door.

Additionally, Aaron hopes to one day wholesale the jars in grocery stores when business picks up.

  • You can read more about Junk Jars here.
  • You can read more F&B articles than we’ve written here.

Featured Image Credit: Yue Yang and Aaron, Junk Jars Co-Founders

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Jothi Venkat

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