Jerry Mai is one of the first chefs to bring authentic Vietnamese flavours to Melbourne’s kitchens. She continues to be a culinary leader whose paddock to plate ethos and no-fuss attitude is winning friends and fans in Melbourne and afield.
Jerry’s cooking tells her family’s story through flavours. The food is predominantly Vietnamese, with more than a little inspiration from Thai and Cambodian cuisine. But this is no pan-Asian bandwagon wannabe – Jerry is the real deal and her food is inspired by the places her parents were born, raised and lived before settling in Australia with her 2 brothers in the 1980s.
Jerry spent her early years at some of Melbourne’s best known and most respected Asian accented restaurants – Longrain (2006), Seamstress (2007) and Gingerboy (2008-9). Jerry has learnt from the best in the business and brings the training and expertise from these popular kitchens and busy chefs to everything that she does.
As with many antipodean chefs, Jerry felt the call of London and spent two years in one of the world’s great culinary capitals.
At Nahm, Jerry was inspired daily by David Thompson and his unique take on Thai food. The innovative and acclaimed fine diner was the peak of Thai cuisine and simply one of the best places in the world a chef like Jerry could hone her skills.
A stint at Zuma, the high-end uber trendy Japanese izakaya, gifted Jerry new techniques and skills, as well as the opportunity to work with new and familiar ingredients in entirely different ways.
In 2014 Jerry decided to share the flavours of their family kitchen with lucky shoppers and city workers. Pho Nom isn’t standard food court fare but restaurant-quality food served with speed, consideration and more than a little heart. There are currently 2 busy Pho Nom stores in Melbourne’s CBD.
September 2017 saw the restaurant incarnation of Jerry’s family history, culture and training with Annam Restaurant and Bar opening in Chinatown. Mimicking the feasting friends and family are treated to at Jerry’s home table, guests are encouraged to share. The menu displays flavours of Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia with a drinks list that match the smoky and spicy flavours. Annam is set to change the way Melbourne thinks about Vietnamese food and Jerry is primed to drive this change.
In 2018 Jerry continued to grow her businesses as well as her personal brand. Her television appearances on SBS Food Safari – Water and The Chef’s Line saw a new collection of guests coming to sample her Vietnamese food. Festival appearances included Black Caviar Day for the Victorian Racing Club at Flemington Racecourse, Taste of Sydney – Collective, Gourmet Escape in Margaret River, an ambassadorship for the Apollo Bay Seafood Festival and Tasting Australia in Adelaide.
2019 saw the launch of Bia Hoi Vietnamese Beer Hall. Located at The Glen Shopping Centre in Glen Waverley, Bia Hoi is an interpretation of the local beer halls common throughout Vietnam. This community-focused suburban restaurant celebrates Vietnamese beer culture at lunch and dinner with a produce-led menu showcasing punchy Vietnamese flavours and a lengthy yet thoughtful selection of brews.