You are here

Seafarer turned chef makes it big in Larne (Northern Ireland)

Seafarer turned chef makes it big in Larne
July 7, 2021

Larne. Northern Ireland's main gateway to the world. A premier port town that handles over 300,000 freight units, 220,000 tourists, and 845,000 passengers a year. Home to the ultimate breakfast food derived by cooks all over the world - Ulster Fry, an ensemble of sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, Ireland's native potato bread, and Irish griddle bread.

The turn of the 21st century heralded heavier port traffic, tourism, and the influx of new migrants in Larne - among them is a young Filipino seafarer-turned-chef, Eddie Yanga.

Yanga's arrival at the coastal town came at a time when its local cuisine is setting off with significant developments in the variety and quantity of international culinary influences. Northern Ireland's food scene was then abuzz with life and the locales' palates were broadening significantly.

"I was an Ordinary Seaman (Os) when I first came to Northern Ireland in 2006. I remember being awestruck of the verdant land, fresh air, and great food," Yanga recalled.

Thoughts of Larne has never left Yanga since. The pull of the land was such that he decided to take on a journey that will take him back to the Irish port town.

"I was then on my seventh year as a seafarer working onboard bulk ships when I decided to take a culinary course that majors in French classical cooking with Magsaysay Institute of Hospitality. I also took a certification course with the Johnsons and Wales University in Miami, Florida after which I worked for two years on luxury liners of the Norwegian Cruise Lines."

Four years later, Yanga returned to Larne not as a transient sailor but as a chef.

He put up Steady Eddie, a noodle bar that offers Filipino, Asian, and fusion cuisines. More than the world-class meals at a reasonable price, Steady Eddie became an instant hit with the locals and tourists alike due to the Yanga's hospitality, warmth, cheerfulness, and friendliness - qualities that truly define a Filipino.

Starting over in a foreign land was not easy, however. The young chef had to learn and understand the lilting brogue of the Irish accent and integrate himself into the daily dynamics of the community.

"The lessons of the sea came in handy. I was so grateful that I first became a seafarer for it was then that I learned to adapt to diverse cultures, be extra mindful, and remain humble. I learned the value of modesty and perseverance from my mentor, Captain Edgardo Flores," he said.

Flores is a veteran master mariner and general manager of Greek-owned Eastern Mediterranean (Eastmed) Manning Agency.

Yanga also attributes his strength to the rigorous education and training he's had with the Asian Institute of Maritime Studies (Aims) where he graduated with a degree in marine engineering. His stint with the local government of Makati likewise honed his diplomatic and social skills.

Today, the young chef continues working his way to the heart of the locals and tourists through their stomachs. His restaurant constantly receives excellent ratings and testimonials from customers that could not help but gush over the quality of food and services. Among the many dishes loved by the patrons is Steady Eddie's chicken spring rolls (locally known in the Philippines as Lumpiang Shanghai) as inspired by the recipe of his mother.

"Above all else, it was my mother who propelled me to be better. She is my inspiration. Seeing her suffering from cancer back then was like my right of passage as a man - I worked harder, became wiser, and turned out to be a family-oriented person. It was a reality call for me; I never stopped working through long days and sleepless nights, even when I was already shaking with fever, I did not stop. I truly gave it my all," he recalled.

Regardless of the breadth of his success and journey, Yanga still sees himself as the same awkwardly funny person that he always is.

"Small endeavors, when put together, spells success. We just have to look back where we came from and look up to Him for gratitude. Sometimes, the best remedy to exhaustion is reflecting on our blessings," Yanga concluded.