Suman Kandel has always followed his dreams.
From his middle class upbringing in a small farming community in southern Nepal to working full-time at a port side eatery.
The qualified chef is mastering a new language and is now settling himself and his wife in their new home town of Warrnambool.
This is all an achievement he says he has acquired through hard work and recognition.
Suman is a full-time chef at Rebecca’s Cafe in Port Fairy.
He hopes to one day be a chef de cuisine in charge of all kitchen functions.
After studying hospitality at university in Nepal, and a Bachelor of Commerce at Melbourne’s Charles Sturt University, the 26 year-old is now laying foundations for a secure future in hospitality management.
“When I came to Australia I was a student,” he said.
“I must have private health insurance and I can only work 20 hours per week.”
These requirements were some of the conditions included in the 457 Visa for overseas workers.
“I was 24,” Suman said. “My English wasn’t good.
“We studied English in Nepal but we had no one to practice speaking with so my writing was good and I’m reading OK but need to know how to speak better.”
As with most English-speaking countries, Australian accents were initially a hurdle for Suman.
“At first it was hard to understand when I came to Australia because Australians have different accents," he said.
“But after a few months I started watching television and listening to radio and communicating with Australians, and I got used to it.
“Now when the suppliers are coming to Rebecca’s and they say “How ya going” and I say “I am going well thanks”, it is a long process.”
Language wasn’t the only thing Suman had to learn after his 10,000 kilometre move.
“Language is different and culture is different,” he said.
But it was food that resonated closest to his heart.
“The food is different,” Suman said. “The way people eat food is different.
“The way people cook food is different.
“Everything we make is like a stew or a curry in Nepal, but here I learn a different way to prepare food.”
Being different in a large Australian city brought its own challenges for the new migrant.
“I’ve been treated different,” he said.
“I was at the end of my shift and I was to take a tram. It was dark and there were a few people on the side of the road and they were saying something that wasn’t very good.
“I didn’t know those words they were saying, I came home and googled it and found out that wasn’t a good word but I just started to wear headphones to the station after that.
“I don’t like trouble.”
After two-and-a-half years of working as a chef at Port Melbourne’s Rose Diner, Suman said his employer was leaving due to personal reasons.
As his sponsorship was based on his employer’s commitment, Suman’s said his future in Australia was also in doubt.
“My visa only allowed me to work for one employer so I now had no sponsor to allow me to stay.”
The next stage in Suman’s hospitality career was one he described as “destiny”.
Through a mutual connection Suman was offered a full-time position at Port Fairy’s Rebecca’s Cafe and he and wife Susma Bhattarai Kandel soon made the move west to Warrnambool.
“I’ve been working in Warrnambool for 11 months now,” he said. “It’s destiny I think.
“I didn’t choose this place, I came to find this place through family and friends.”
A self-confessed private man, Suman said he had no regrets about leaving behind the crowds of city living.
“I’m happy,” he said. “The people are very friendly with people who have a different culture.
“If I describe something different, they listen.”
His advice to communities who welcome migrants is simple.
“Every immigrant has their own story,” he said. “They have a different culture.
“Immigrants always have to struggle and if they want to make some friends they should tell their story and then they can make some more friends.”
Away from the security of living in a Nepalese community in Melbourne, Suman has found enjoyment in areas he never thought possible.
“Friends from work have taught me how to fish,” he said.
“We don’t have ocean back in Nepal so I always wanted to see the ocean.”
Suman has recently applied for permanent residency for himself and his wife.
While his full-time position as a chef in Port Fairy has brought him happiness, Suman said he had higher dreams.
“The thing I want to do is still on the way,” he said.
“I will continue in hospitality.
“As I grow my skill I would like see myself in a chef de cuisine position, once I develop leadership skills as well.”
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