Disabled chef defies odds, serves up culinary delights in Dengkil

Dina Corner restaurant officially opened its doors in 2011, six years after Farid lost his sight in a workplace accident.

20 Apr 2024 03:00pm
Mohamad Farid Mohamad Rasidi. Photo by Bernama
Mohamad Farid Mohamad Rasidi. Photo by Bernama

DENGKIL - Opting not to grieve over the loss of his eye, Mohamad Farid Mohamad Rasidi leveraged his cooking talent to earn a livelihood and support his family.

Popularly known as chef OKU (disabled chef), the father of four offers a tantalising range of cuisines from Morocco and Beijing, China, at the restaurant he runs with his wife, Siti Nur Zawani Najlaa Abdul Hamid, 40.

Located in Kampung Semarang here, Dina Corner restaurant officially opened its doors in 2011, six years after Farid lost his sight in a workplace accident.

Working with only one eye, which he acknowledges somewhat limits his vision, Farid navigates the kitchen with finesse, attending to orders from loyal customers who heed the message conveyed by a small note displayed at the premises: "Please be patient, disabled chef in action”.

"Only the patient still frequents my shop. There was a time, in the early days of my business, when I almost had a confrontation with a customer due to delays in fulfilling his order. That experience spurred me to improve my cooking efficiency to ensure customer satisfaction,” he told Bernama recently.

Occasionally, while cooking, Farid would pause to cover his non-functioning left eye with a wet towel to prevent discomfort from the heat.

"My blind eye won’t regain sight after being hit by a falling rock at work, damaging the wall behind the socket. And you might notice my right eye bulging; that’s because of the thyroid issue I got diagnosed with back in 2014.

"Yet, that hasn’t dampened my spirits. Who would have thought that my love for exploring foreign cuisines while working abroad would now support me?” said the Klang native.

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Sharing the menu at his restaurant, Farid said that all rice-based dishes were prepared with fragrant rice and a blend of various herbs.

"This recipe originates from Beijing. I really like to eat herbal rice, a dish I’ve tried to recreate after enjoying it many times while working in the city.

"What I find truly delightful is that whenever I prepare fried rice or chicken rice with herbal rice, the customers' response is overwhelmingly positive; they appreciate the fragrant and appetising nature of the dish,” said Farid, who previously worked in engineering and technical plumbing at a private company.

Besides the rice-based dishes, the restaurant’s other 35 menus include Beijing-style cooked chicken, Chinese-style mixed ginger chicken, sizzling chicken noodles, hand-pulled noodles, mee suah, and marmosa claypot soup (a recipe from Morocco).

"Our restaurant features a range of affordable dishes, priced from RM2 to RM16. We also provide free meals for disabled customers,” said Farid, who also offers work opportunities for locals and persons with disabilities.

When asked about his journey as a disabled entrepreneur, Farid said that he still regularly seeks guidance through counselling services provided by the Social Welfare Department (JKM).

"They (counsellors) often pay me a visit, and sometimes I don’t even realise if one of my customers is from JKM. They order food like everyone else. They observe how I interact with customers to see how I’m doing emotionally,” he said. - BERNAMA