26 April 2024

Five Minutes with Mohammad and Fatema, Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe owners Mohammad and Fatema.

Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe owners Mohammad and Fatema. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Who are Mohammad Asaduzzaman and Fatema Zohora:

Mohammad – We are siblings from Bangladesh. I moved to Australia in 2013 after my sister who moved here in 2005. We both moved to Wagga in 2017 from Sydney. I was struggling after moving to Wagga and handling the shop (Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe) all by myself. So my sister (Fatema) and her husband came down to help me. And we’ve been getting better and better every year.

Most of the food we do here is from scratch, so we know what we’re doing. And that helps us customise our food. I think we were the first in Wagga who started doing crepes. For the last three years, we’ve improved a lot with our dessert range. We are planning to change our menu by the end of the year.

The local people have been very kind to us. They have supported us and love our food. We are very blessed. We are lucky right now that we have good staff in the kitchen but that wasn’t always the case.

Fatema – When you search for gluten-free places, Bayleaf appears on top because there are not a lot of places for gluten-free, celiac and lactose-free food. We are focused on that. We have a very vast range of gluten-free items.

Our biggest supporters are Kapooka and the RAAF Base. They come down here for breakfast all the time.

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Best recent dining experience:

Mohammad – The Oakroom and Thaigaa. They are good at what they do and their services are very nice. Overall Thaigga is a good experience in Wagga.

Fatema – I went to this little place in Sydney called Spice Alley, and it’s quite popular. They do fusion and it’s a combination of six Asian eateries.

Favourite cuisine:

Mohammad – I don’t have a particular one but if I had to choose, I would say French.

Fatema – I love French food, and Thai food, too!

Biscoff pancakes with Nutella, banana, strawberries, cream, ice-cream, butterscotch and pistachio tuile.

Biscoff pancakes with Nutella, banana, strawberries, cream, ice-cream, butterscotch and pistachio tuile. Photo: Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe.

What ingredient can I not live without:

Mohammad – I can’t live without butter.

Fatema – I would have to say garlic.

Most embarrassing pantry/fridge item: Store-bought frozen meal. You don’t get time to eat or follow a healthy diet when you’re in the restaurant industry.

How many Weet-Bix do I do:

Mohammad – I tried it a couple of times, but it’s not something I’m a big fan of.

Fatema – I tried Weet-Bix once or twice when I was a student back in 2005.

Try the veg bowl. Photo: Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe.

Best coffee spot in Wagga: Aside from us (Bayleaf Restaurant and Cafe) it would be Little Cup Cafe. She makes really nice coffee.

Favourite coffee: We both drink a latte with one sugar.

What’s your coffee blend: Cosmorex Coffee Roasters.

Southern-fried chicken burger. Photo: Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe.

What’s the weirdest coffee order you’ve received:

Mohammad – Personally no coffee order is too weird but one order that made me laugh was once someone had 12 spoons of sugar in one regular cappuccino.

Fatema – A half-strength small decaf that was extra extra hot.

Next big thing in the Wagga food scene: There are plenty of opportunities here in Wagga. Instead of repeating what we have it should be something new that will go off like a dessert bar or something more cuisine-based like Brazillian or Spanish.

Favourite place to lunch in Wagga:

Mohammad – I would have to say Uneke Lounge.

Fatema – My favourite is Bayleaf.

The big breakfast.

The Big Breakfast. Photo: Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe.

A must-try on our menu: People should try our breakfast items. All of them are pretty good. Our biggest sellers are breakfast and crepes. We have a versatile menu.

Most used ingredient at Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe: Mushrooms and Nutella.

Our top pick from our desserts:

Mohammad – French toast.

Fatema – Strawberry Nutella crepe and Biscoff pancake.

My biggest culinary influence:

Mohammad – That’s a difficult question for me. I follow a lot of chefs. My favourite chef is Marco Pierre White. When I started working in the kitchen, it was self-driven motivation that took me to learn different cuisines and dishes.

Fatema – Gordon Ramsay.

Favourite cookbook:

MohammadThe Professional Chef from the Culinary Institute of America.

Fatema – No particular book, but I research lots of recipes online.

Who I admire in the Wagga food and wine scene:

Mohammad – Food-wise, Uneke does a pretty good job. They are very trendy. With wine, my friend Nathan Hale. He owns the Bottlemart at Lake Albert.

Fatema – La Porchetta, next door. They are pretty good.

What are this week’s specials at Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe: It changes every couple of weeks. This week, arancini and Biscoff pancake and next week, it will be soup.

Region Riverina tried the seafood pasta and loved it.

Region Riverina tried the seafood pasta and loved it. Photo: Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe.

Death row meal:

Mohammad – Foie gras (a delicacy of French cuisine where the liver of a goose or duck has been fattened).

Fatema – Rice and curry.

Where am I travelling to next:

Mohammad – I really want to go to the Gold Coast and Queensland in general.

Fatema – If I get the holiday, South Korea.

Gluten-free choc-fudge and walnut brownies.

Gluten-free choc-fudge and walnut brownies. Photo: Bayleaf Restaurant And Cafe.

Dream destination:

Mohammad – I want to travel and see Europe for a couple of years to see the culture and everything. Foodwise they are versatile.

Fatema – Aside from South Korea, I want to see Asia.

My biggest fear:

Mohammad – I have a fear of heights. I can’t do bungee jumping or anything even if I want to.

Fatema – I don’t like snakes.

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My least favourite food:

Mohammad Anything with too many spices. I don’t particularly hate any dishes.

Fatema Anything with too much salt.

My top three cooking tips:

Mohammad – The more mistakes you make with cooking the better. You’re learning what mistakes you can’t make. Honestly, reading books or watching YouTube is not the ideal way to learn cooking. Use less salt in food at first and try it instead of just following the recipe blindly. And the last thing is mise en place – before you start cooking ensure you have everything organised.

Fatema – Just as my brother said, organise your ingredients. Cook more and you can perfect your dishes. Do everything from scratch.

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