Vision, Determination and Self-belief – the story behind Great Aunty Three

Born in Vietnam in 1979 and raised in Australia from the age of 1, Michael Le is the model of a man following his dream. Driven by the desire to provide a better life for his extended family, Michael spent nearly ten years climbing the corporate ladder. He started out his professional career as an employment advisor and continued to help other people grow and realize their aspirations, as he moved into IT Training and Development in the finance sector. His drive and determination helped him rise to the top of his field.

After almost a decade in the corporate world, Michael was a success by any measure: living a comfortable lifestyle and on the path to a safe, dependable career.

The only problem was he wasn’t following his own heart.

Inspired by his fellow countrymen celebrity chef Luke Nguyen and comedian Anh Do, his Grandma Yi Ba, wife Mai and new-born baby son Ethan, Michael turned his back on the corporate life and took a leap into a completely different and exciting world.

Health and fitness have been an essential part of Michael’s life for as long as he can remember. Michael’s father was a chef himself – growing up in Sydney during his time living with his father (Michael lived between his parent’s respective homes from age 10 when they divorced), he was always surrounded by fresh fruit and vegetables. Michael soon formulated the idea of using this fresh produce to make his own nutritional juice and smoothie combinations. He found that a glass of one of his drinks before a session would allow him to increase the duration of his run or gym activity significantly.

When he moved out of home Michael retained his love of fresh fruit and vegetables, making them a staple of his diet. He started to experiment with different drink combinations, adding herbs such as mint for freshness and ginger for mental awareness and wellness.

So, Michael had a starting point. He wanted to open a healthy juice bar – with an Asian twist.

But there was something missing. Balance.

Michael’s other passion – Vietnamese food – led him to seek the advice from one of the most important people in his life: his Grandma. Known to Michael as Ba Ngoai, but affectionately regarded as Yi Ba (Aunty Three) by family and friends, she has always been a role model: respected, loved and the glue that has kept the Le family together.

Michael spent his formative years learning the love of cooking from his mother and Yi Ba, who has worked in Vietnamese restaurants for most of her life. Yi Ba cast her culinary net wide. She cleverly introduced flavours from South-East Asia and Europe with those of traditional Vietnam and honed a special talent with food, sweets and desserts. She built an exceptional reputation challenging the gastronomic status quo at her restaurant Quang Com 26 in Can Tho, Vietnam – so much so that the local community there still raves about her sensational recipes. Michael adores his grandma’s cooking too; eating delicious foods at his grandma’s house also evokes fond memories of the close family unit he once had as a young child.

With Yi Ba as his spiritual guide, Michael set about the task of finding his niche. He found from years of dining around Sydney that the selection of truly great Vietnamese food was limited, particularly in the inner city. Of course, he knew that quality, authentic Vietnamese cuisine could still be found in suburban areas such as Cabramatta (where Yi Ba still works as a head chef of a vegan restaurant), but catching a train out there every lunch time or after work really wasn’t practical! Pressed for time, he always craved a taste of his Grandma’s food experience in the inner city – and sharing this experience with others.

Accompanying his juice blends, he wanted to introduce his customers to a selection of signature dishes, leaving them with a unique taste experience they would never forget.

Michael had found his balance: health and taste.

This… is Great Aunty Three. Healthy juice and smoothie combos for those on the run and authentic Vietnamese Street Food for those with some time to spend. Quality, affordable food and drinks made from the freshest produce and prepared with love, care and attention to taste. Conveniently located on Enmore Road.

Great Aunty Three is a dedication to Yi Ba; who reminds Michael to appreciate the simple things in life, pay heed to your blessings and always follow your dream.

Great Aunty Three: 115 Enmore Road, Enmore (Opposite Enmore Theatre).