Scouse girls are known for their glamorous looks, incredible dress sense and having the gift of the gab.
Jenni Quach is Scouse glamour personified – greeting you with a massive smile, flawless hair and make-up and enough stories to stop you getting a word in edgeways.
She’s 31 years old, lives in Toxteth and works as business development manager for Lu Ban, the Baltic Triangle’s new high-end Chinese restaurant.
Showing visitors around the immaculate new restaurant, she describes one private dining room as her ‘Beyonce room’ (because it’s where she would want Beyonce to have her tea).
But life hasn’t always been as chic for Jenni, who was brought up above a Chinese takeaway in Wirral.
Speaking to the ECHO, Jenni said: “I was raised in a takeaway with my brother. We lived above the Mayflower until I was 10. I used to pick up the phone then pass it to my auntie when it was chokka.
“It wasn’t something I ever wanted to go into. Being raised in an environment where [your parents] are taken away from you and is hard work.
“I can’t ride a bike because my mum and dad were so busy they never taught me. We had swimming lessons and stuff but the stabilisers stayed on.”
Jenni’s parents ran The Mayflower in Oxton, Master One in Crosby and Oriental Flower in Neston, over 30 years spent working round the clock to build a life for their family.
Jenni said: “We had one day off on Monday and they would take us out of school and we would go to Southport. But we never saw them in the evening because they were always working until 11pm.”
Her parents’ ambition was always for Jenni to follow a different path – a common theme for many Chinese Scousers raised in the food industry.
Jenni said: “They wanted me to do something different. They are traditional because they are tiger parents. They wanted me to do accountancy or law.”
Despite pursuing law in school and taster days at Oxford and Cambridge, Jenni opted to follow her passion and study International Fashion Marketing.
And despite the hard work ethic passed onto her by her parents, she still describes university as “four years of sitting off getting bevvied”.
But while she approach university with the same attitude of most 18 year olds, Jenni was aware of differences between her and other Scousers growing up.
Jenni said: “I was the only one of three girls in my school who were Chinese. It’s not uncommon to be the only Asian.”
She added: “When I was little we were told to go home and draw a picture of our dinner. Everyone came in with chicken nuggets and chips or a burger and I felt a bit embarrassed because mine was rice, veg and fish.
“I was like ‘they are going to skit at me’. They all had plates of food and ours was shared. How do you draw that?
“I think when I was young I always felt different but the older you get you realise that what makes you different makes you unique.
“I’ve got that perspective because the Chinese culture is very different to the Western culture.”
At just 18 years old, Kevin Hoang is the youngest person we spoke to – but despite his age, he’s already landed a job that plenty of aspiring chefs would dream of.
The teenager, from Kensington, works as a scholar chef in Lu Ban, learning from executive head chef Dave Critchley.
Cooking came naturally to Kevin, whose dad was head chef at New Capital and Shangri La on Victoria Street.
Being decidedly modest, Kevin describes Shangri La as “quite big back in the day”, underplaying the fact his dad ran the kitchen of one of the city’s most sought after restaurants.
Despite cooking being in his blood, Kevin’s skills are largely self-taught, with him picking up skills online and honing his craft.
peaking to the ECHO, Kevin said: “I know a lot of the restaurants from where my dad has worked. We’ve had that connection with the owners and I could go to those restaurants and sit there and see what the cooks were doing and how it works.
“From the age of about 16 I started working front of house because my mum wanted me to get experience instead of going into the world of work cold.
“Learning to cook was always my own passion and my own thing to do. My mum didn’t want me to go into cooking, she wanted me to go to uni and get a 9-5 but that wasn’t for me.”
Kevin’s parents hoped he’d pursue an academic route rather than hospitality – and he says he had a stricter upbringing than some of his friends.
He said: “One thing I did miss was the partying stuff – my mum didn’t like me going out late. I missed going out and going to gaffs and that. I would stay in a lot. When I compare myself to my Chinese mates they had stricter upbringings.”
Despite being brought up in some of the city’s biggest Chinese restaurants and working in a high-end kitchen cooking authentic Chinese dishes, Kevin’s identity errs towards the country he was born in, rather than the country his family came from.
He says: “I identify as a Scouser – I can’t be anything else.”