Foodie Flicks: The Chef of South Pole (Nankyoku Ryourinin) (2010)

Now here’s another strange setting for a foodie film – The South Polar! Well, it’s true that we have seen so many films about either North or South Polar and the wild life, explorations, illegal fishing, and et cetera. But a comedy about it? Sure as hell, I haven’t seen anything about it and that’s where The Chef of South Polar came in!

Dome Fuji Station is located deep inside the icy jungle of South Polar. Temperatures may reach as low as -70 degrees of Celcius and having around -50 degrees would be a stroll in the park. The sun came up only for specific amount of time in a year and there will be months when darkness will enshroud the South Pole. Tough life!

A team that comprises of technicians, researchers, a doctor, and a chef are assigned for a year to live there. Hard work would be something to pass the time as well as having fun with the comrades, but for somebody like Chef Nishimura, food is definitely the way to keep everybody sane.

Nankyoku Ryourinin 2

He’s good with cooking and being a navy kitchen crew, he’s in good terms with assignments far from home. Even so, he had to leave her wife and his two beloved kids back home for this one-year-feels-like-an-eternity job.

Stopping here, this film sounds very promising as we can probably explore the human story or the conflicts brewing from living in a secluded place like the South Pole. But that’s not what happen in the film after all!

It’s all about the funny interactions between the nerdy technicians and researchers, as well as the crazy doctor. Nishimura somehow becomes the normal guy among them and the guy they confide in in times of trouble and hunger.

Fun facts about living in the South Pole are explored a bit in this film but what I love the most would be the food scenes. There are times when Nishimura prepare Japanese dishes with such details and love and there’s this hilarious time when seeing everybody dressed up to attend a French-style dinner.

But the best part would be when some of the crews get frustrated because they ran out of ramen and Nishimura saves the day with his experiments. Seeing everybody enjoying their bowl of hot ramen and slurping so hard is just golden!

Basically, it’s a film for everyone who loves to see a change of view and to examine the ‘struggle’ of life in the coldest part of the earth. For me, it’s simply because of the food and how I am so glad to see people appreciate and enjoy it so much. Shuichi Okita directed it well and everything got better because of a help from a food stylist whom they said helped Naoko Ogigami’s Megane (2007) and Kamome Shokudou (2006).

Now I have a sudden craving of ramen because of this..

For the trailer, do check this link:


Nankyoku Ryourinin 1

THE CHEF OF SOUTH POLE (Nankyoku Ryourinin) (2010)

Drool Level: *** (looks yum!)

Director: Shuichi Okita

Producer: Toshikazu Nishigaya

Screenwriter: Shuichi Okita, based on the novel by Jun Nishimura

Starring: Masato Sakai, Kengo Kora, Kosuke Toyohara, Katsuhisa Namase, Takashi Ukaji, Kitaro, Kanji Furutachi, Daisuke Kuroda, Masahiro Kohama

Genre: Drama, Comedy


Pictures taken from various sources

A Foodie’s Life: The Chef Is Also A Family Man – with Chef Vindex Tengker (The Foodie Magazine, Dec 2013)

We all know Chef Vindex Tengker as the very exacting judge on reality TV cooking shows MasterChef and Top Chef, also as the executive chef at Jakarta’s The Dharmawangsa Hotel. But what we don’t know is that he is a dotting family man and an avid musician.

The slow rise to the top. That’s pretty much how one could describe Chef Vindex Tengker’s glimmering career – starting from his apprenticeship years in Bali, to his adventures in Spain and the United States, and eventually coming back home to assume top chef posts at several prestigious hotels in Bali and Jakarta. Behind his busy affairs, I recently found out that our Manadoan chef is after all, a family man, musician, and a foodie at heart.

My encounters with Chef Vindex have always been food related. Stopping by our table to make sure that everything was good at Sriwijaya restaurant wherein he holds court or he would be personally carving a slice of the succulent Txogitxu beef or serving Lobster Thermidor at the Jakarta. Sometimes I would catch him on TV dishing out his judgment on his reality cooking shows.

The Foodie Magazine - Vindex Tengker 5

One windy Sunday afternoon, I was lucky enough to be brought into the chef’s safe haven. Home is in a high rise apartment complex overlooking the greenery at one of Jakarta’s most respectable neighborhoods. Immediately, I longed for my own home as I was welcomed into the midst of Vindex’s family, his wife and daughter Hannah, warmly greeting me.

Soon enough, not only was I welcomed to their home, I was also treated to an impromptu performance and show of togetherness between Vindex and Hannah as they played an uplifting classical tune on the piano. One could not miss out the glimmer of pride in the chef’s eyes as he tapped the ivory with his daughter. Then Vindex himself played solo Richard Marx’s ‘Right Here Waiting’. He even does an encore ballad with his guitar. What a lovely experience!

The Foodie Magazine - Vindex Tengker 6

Upon this Vindex says, ‘Well, aside from music and a little bit of sports, actually collecting cookbooks has always been my favorite pastime and I enjoy seeking inspirations from Michelin-starred chefs’ cookbooks’. I spy a bookshelf dedicated to his collection of cookbooks from which he acquires the inspiration to orchestrate a fine selections of ingredients, colors, and compositions.

This is the part where I finally grasp why he instills the thirst for knowledge for both himself and his family. Seeing Hannah for example, not only do I admire the fourth grader’s talent in music, she is also a budding artist with her beautiful paintings that decorate the walls of the apartment.

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‘Last but not least, I have to thank Charlie Trotter for giving me so much during my early years as a chef’, he reminisces. He admits that it wasn’t easy to access knowledge during his early years and the cookbook series from the late Chef Trotter were his loyal learning companion. Not forgetting his roots, Vindex also gives a special credit to his grandmother back in Manado. A long time ago, she introduced him to classic Northern Sulawesi’s cooking like bruine boon soup or rica-rica. Well, that explains why one time I had a good Western-style dish fused with tuturuga sauce cooked by the chef.

Naturally I’d ask any chef whether they would still cook something refined or fancy when they are at home, but Vindex chooses to stay easy and simple. ‘I never really cook something complicated back home. Sometimes I just prepare simple stir-fry dishes with grilled fish or grilled eggplants and make sambal terasi. Another time, I’d cook a clear soup with fried tempe and again, sambal. Homey!’, he admits.

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Before we part, I ask the chef whether he has a message to convey for aspiring chef nowadays. He admits that chances are more open either to seek information through the internet or also to seek knowledge outside the country. Chef Vindex puts forth a reminder, ‘You have to look again inside yourself whether you have the passion, because being a professional is not as easy as it seems. Ultimately, it’s all about whether you love your job or not. I started this job a long ago, but I am still in love with it, and it’s never too late to learn.’

Without us realizing, the night has fallen and it’s time to say goodbye. Vindex escorts us back to the lobby and he’s on his way back to the hotel to oversee an event. Work may have its demands, but he surely establishes a healthy work-life balance.


Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE December 2013 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photos by: Dennie Benedict and personal collections of Chef Vindex Tengker

Foodies Lists: Stocking Stuffers (The Foodie Magazine, Dec 2013)

Gift Ideas 2

The NESCAFE Dolce Gusto coffee machine from Krups is an outstanding little gadget which packs a punch. It stands above competition as the only single-cup coffee machine which delivers a professional 15 bar pressure, guaranteeing a perfect cup and fine milk froth every time. Its innovative easy-to-use capsule system is specifically designed to ensure that each drink you make is fresh. The airtight capsules optimize the extraction pressure for each flavor variety, delivering the best coffee quality, texture, and milk froth – hot or cold. Another interesting development is that not only does their capsule system provide coffees, there are chocolate and tea variants too.


Gift Ideas 4

This 2in1 cocotte and tajine is excellent for one pot dishes. This shallow ceramic covered pot can be used on the oven or you can pop it into the oven. Stews, pot roast, lamb tajine, and many more can be cooked in it. You can even use the cocotte to bake bread.


Gift Ideas 1

Fondue provides simple, fun, and elegant entertaining for any dinner party. This simple traditional meal allows guests to prepare their own feast and enjoy conversation and fun at the same time. This Swissmar Mont Blanc cast iron fondue set is perfect for such occasions.


Gift Ideas 3

The Kenwood kMix range of kitchen appliances always have a chic and colorful design. Dismissing other toasters to the sideline, its beauty is more than skin deep. A kMix toaster can be relied upon to serve up perfectly browned slices time after time.


PANTRY MAGIC | Jalan Kemang Raya no. 48 – Jakarta | +62.21.718.2573 | | @PantryMagicIndo


Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE December 2013 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photos by: Dennie Benedict (except for official Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio image)

Foodie Quotes #7

TGA - Gorengan ala Thailand

“The first time you see something that you have never seen before, you almost always know right away if you should eat it or run away from it.”
― Scott Adams

So, what’s your most daring experience with food, guys?

Did you break the spell or simply evade?

Do share it with me, tag my Twitter or Instagram, and I’ll let the world know your conquests!

Instagram: @gastroficionado
Twitter: @gastroficionado

Iconic: Sate Khas Senayan (The Foodie Magazine, Dec 2013)

Satay or sate – originated in Java and is available almost anywhere in Indonesia, as it can be unofficially called as the Indonesian national dish. It is a dish of seasoned, skewered, and grilled meats, served with a sauce. The most famous satays are done with chicken, beef, or lamb cubes. Sauces vary from province to province but the most common is a peanut sauce or simply drenched with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce). Satays are usually eaten with a plate full of hot, fluffy rice, with bird-eye chillies and pickles made from shallots, cucumbers, and carrots.

Whew! Writing that just made my mouth water.

Sate Khas Senayan - Sate Ayam & Sate Kulit
Sate Ayam & Sate Kulit

Being Indonesian, I am proud of satay and its traditions. It is a dish that can truly be representative of the country, it is glorious and celebrated by everyone, be it from the lowly kaki lima (hawkers) or at fancy restaurants.

Back before 1974, hawkers dominated the satay scene all over Jakarta, it was only then that Satay House Senayan introduced the art of enjoying satay in a restaurant. Satay House Senayan quickly gained recognition from it and since then, the dish has been elevated to a new heights of appreciation.

With its traditionalist theme and goals to preserve the cultural heritage of Indonesia, Satay House Senayan began with its first ever restaurant on Jalan Pakubuwono. It was carefully designed to promote a traditional and local feel, such as the use of wayang (Javanese shadow puppets) and an earthy atmosphere, while also features mostly Javanese cuisine on the menu. It was pretty much revolutionary at that time to see a restaurant that bravely promoted local values both in the design and cuisine.

Of course, the satay formula here is something you cannot take lightly. For instance, the perfectly grilled chicken satay utilizes not only the meat but also the chicken skin which complement each other flawlessly especially when dipped to the uniquely thick and silky peanut sauce. Fine additions in the menu such as lamb or prawn satays, tahu telor, nasi liwet, soto ayam, or sop buntut are also among the clientele’s favorites, alongside myriad of other Indonesian dishes available here.

Sate Khas Senayan - Tahu Pong
Tahu Pong
Sate Khas Senayan - Es Cendol & Wedang Ronde
Es Cendol & Wedang Ronde

Due to a government regulation to prohibit the use of foreign names for brands and products during the period of New Order regime, Satay House Senayan had to alter its name to Sate Khas Senayan – a name which was chosen carefully and cleverly rhymes with the old one. Sate Khas Senayan also realized the importance of adapting itself with the trends and decided to empower their restaurants with modern touches on many aspects. Nowadays, we can see the standardization of the restaurant’s design with current features like al fresco seating, wi-fi connections, and late night dining during weekends to attract young adults who love to hang out.

Changing times brought Sate Khas Senayan to also compete in shopping malls and it even provides an express service concept in selected food courts to cater quick business lunches. Thus so far, Sate Khas Senayan has proven itself consistent, not only with its delicious satays but it has always been the ardent patron of anything Indonesian – starting from the ever-rotating Indonesian menu done annually, the traditional touch on the concept and design, and quite recently; publishing the English version of comic books about Pandawa – a legendary wayang tale.

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As with any iconic persona or institution, the true testament to longevity is its ability to adapt with the changing times. With its modest start in 1974 and slowly but steady expansion through the past three decades, the company has reaped the reward of its hard work. This year alone, it has added seven branches, bringing it to a total of 30 Sate Khas Senayan branches all over the country. With its solid foundation and drive to embrace and accept change, Sate Khas Senayan is bound to be with us, feeding us their perfectly cooked satay for many more years.


Some menu are suitable for vegetarians

Address: Around 30 locations across Jakarta – Indonesia

Twitter: @satekhassenayan

Opening hours: Everyday, mall opening hours (up to late night in weekends)


Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE December 2013 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photos by: Dennie Benedict