KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — Jamie Oliver revolutionised the UK foodscape when he launched Fifteen in 2002, a restaurant/charity apprenticeship programme that offers disadvantaged youngsters an alternative career path.
In Singapore, Benny Se Teo runs Eighteen Chefs, which is a restaurant chain that employs fellow ex-offenders with a view to giving them a fresh start in life.
A little closer to home is Agak Agak, which also hopes to give back in a similar way.
The initiative, which is the brainchild of Malaysian ‘foodprenuers’ Ili Sulaiman of Dish by Ili and Basira Yeusuff of Root Cellar KL, is centred on an eatery that aims to employ underprivileged individuals in their kitchen under an apprenticeship programme for one year.
Ili and Basira said they chose the name ‘Agak Agak’, which in Malay means more or less, because it implied cooking with your senses.
“For us, the term brings to mind kitchen geniuses like Gordon Ramsay, and even our own grandmothers whose mouthwatering dishes were cooked up with ‘a bit, a dash and a splash’ of various ingredients,” they added.
“Thus, we feel that Agak Agak embodies that strength in practising and gaining confidence in honing a craft until it becomes an extension of yourself — more or less.”
Agak Agak is slated to open on June 7 at Paper Plates, Art Printing Works (APW), Jalan Riong, where it will serve wholesome Malaysian food with a twist.
Ili and Basira hope to welcome their first batch of apprentices in January 2017.
If all goes well, they plan to expand into food delivery, event planning and catering.
If you’d like to support them, Agak Agak is currently crowdfunding on PitchIn with a goal to raising RM100,000 in 30 days to support the infrastructure for the eatery that will form the foundation for the initiative.
The minimum pledge is RM10, but as usual, the more you pledge, the richer the rewards you will reap.
To find out more, watch the video below in which Ili and Basira talk about their dreams for the Agak Agak initiative.