From refugee to restauranteur, Jan brings a new Afghan treat

Jan Shafahi carves chicken. 154487_01


Freshpoint Kebabs make no ordinary meat on a stick, nor is its proprietor an ordinary man.
The Hampton Park eatery cooks up Afghan-style kebabs in lamb, chicken and shami – which is a fine-minced lamb – that are coated with a mild, pleasant hide of spices and cut into generous cubes.
The kebabs are served on the plate with flat bread and fresh garden salad, as well as a garlic raita and a citrus vinegar dressing that are created on the premises.
They are popular dishes for a growing Afghan community moving into Casey which is hungry for its national food.
But in truth owner Jan Shafahi sates a diversity of diners with charcoal tandoori chicken and chips, dim sims, Turkish-style kebab and lamb curry as well as Afghan dumplings filled with either spinach (ashak) or meat (mantu).
“This shop is not like other shops,” the former asylum seeker said.
“I try to bring in a lot of different customers.”
His giant flat breads sell for $1 and have built a giant following. They are baked in vertical tandoori ovens each day, selling before they’ve barely cooled.
In 2014, Mr Shafahi took over the shop, leaving behind a decade of factory toil. He works 14-hour days, but hasn’t regretted the move.
He’s learnt a lot on the job in his own business and meets a wealth of people. In contrast, “everything comes at you in one direction” in the factory and there were no prospects for advancement.
Fleeing from Taliban persecution in Afghanistan, he arrived in Australia by boat in 2000. It was his first ever boat trip and it was on rough seas and without life jackets.
By his own example, he puts the lie to the misconception that asylum seekers take jobs.
He employs four staff members who prepare the extensive menu from early mornings.
One of his fellow former factory colleagues – also a refugee – owns a large supermarket in Dandenong.
“From the Australians I see, I feel the love of all people here.”
Mr Shafahi continues to dream. He plans for a 150-seat dine-in restaurant.
Freshpoint Kebabs is open seven days a week from 7am-9pm at shop 21, 166 Somerville Road, Hampton Park.
Phone 8751 3221.

Jan Shafahi has been working hard to build up his business.