Stephen Choy arrived in the sunny seaside town of Torquay, Devon back in 1987, aged just 17. Speaking little English and armed only with a strong determination to create a successful life for himself, he began his culinary career working as a kitchen hand at a Chinese restaurant owned by his uncle.
After several years of intense dedication and hard work, it became apparent that he had the skills to establish something of his own, and so he set off on a quest to land his very first takeaway premises. Borrowing money from every possible friend and family member who could help, he and his wife Sui eventually opened the doors of Mei Lai in Exmouth, in 1990. By this point there would not even be enough cash to fill a till float on the first day of trading - it was now make or break for the young Mr Choy and his family.
He needn’t have worried, however. His relentless drive and passion for his food meant that there was never a shortage of customers and he soon secured a new location in the holiday town of Dawlish in 1996. This Mei Lai would prove even more popular than the last; it is here that he found the freedom to develop his own unique recipes and cooking methods which he would perfect for years to come. Mei Lai still stands strong and is now well established as one of the finest Chinese takeaways in the South West.
Finally, after years of hearing holidaying customers say “I wish we had a Chinese like this in my hometown!” daughter Sophie and partner James made the decision to launch the Mr Choy brand as homage to father and mentor Stephen, in the county capital of Exeter. Armed with a wealth of knowledge from their years in the family business, their aim is to serve high quality, traditional Chinese takeaway in a friendly and modern setting.