Chef Kyah Lulham sits being interviewed in a restaurant kitchen and smiles for Becoming U's Inspire U Stories from the Valley series.

Kyah Lulham – Creative, Ambitious, Caring

Kyah is an innovative young chef who’s spent several years working in some of the best local and national restaurants, most recently at Matilda’s in Nambucca Heads.

He’s also appeared on Season 2 of The Cook Up with Adam Liaw and is in high demand, having just flown to Dublin in Ireland to work at Carton House.

Chasing adventure and following his dream didn’t always seem possible for Kyah. He struggled in primary school, and it was hard to form relationships with others. He experienced bullying, mental health issues, and his parents’ divorce affected him.”

“The bullying side of things and [my] mental health started to get really bad, which is quite concerning at a young age like it shouldn’t really be affecting me that much.

“[When my parents} split up, it was pretty rough for probably like the next five years because it was sort of jumping between houses, and then I found it difficult keeping relationships.”

After Year 11, Kyah went to Coffs Harbour Senior College and started his apprenticeship at a cafe in Sawtell and a year at the V Wall Tavern, where he realised how much he loved being a chef. He then worked at Icebergs Dining Room And Bar in Bondi Beach and with top chef Darren Robertson at the Three Blue Ducks’ Byron Bay venture, The Farm.

In November 2021, Kyah created a pop-up degustation charity dinner using local produce and native ingredients featuring 8 courses with matching wines. The event was held at River View Island and raised $7,000 for Top Blokes Foundation, a not-for-profit that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of boys and young men.

Kyah has a powerful bond with his grandfather, who grows a lot of his own veg, and together they spend time in the garden and fishing.

“My pop’s great. He’s always had a big farm down the back of our house, he’ll still get out there every day and pick cucumbers and grow like massive zucchinis, then he’ll get out and go fishing and that type of stuff. It’s really good to see someone that just keeps going.”

These influences drive Kyah’s chef philosophy and his motivation. Kyah focuses on the paddock-to-plate movement and uses fresh local and seasonal produce, often foraging for ingredients for his dishes and sourcing from aquaponics farms.

“I’m hoping one day to have a little group of restaurants sort of semi-fine dining, self-sustainable out on a farm that you use all the produce to create delicious lovely food that’s all straight from the ground or straight from the paddock.”

Kyah has some advice for young people who are frightened about taking steps or dealing with change.

“All those challenges that scare you the most will most likely be the ones that will make you a better person or push you to do more and give you a lot more opportunities and a lot more experience in life”.

You can now watch Kyah’s story, other stories from local heroes, and the full feature documentary film, Inspire U: Stories from the Valley on our Inspire U project page. We’ll be adding new stories regularly, so come back soon.

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Author: Simone Atallah

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