Stuff of Legends: Ermey Trisniarty – La Femme Chocolat (The Foodie Magazine, Apr 2014)

Luck may not be the right word for Ermey Trisniarty, co-owner of Dapur Cokelat. As the main person behind most of the creations of the famous chocolate store, it is a testament to her great ideas and hard work. Let’s hear her recipe for success.

Back in 2001, there was once this modest chocolate shop that just started to pave its way as the pioneer of praline-for-everyone in Jakarta. That time, pralines were not well-known to Jakartans except for those who frequented certain five-star hotels and one or two boutique chocolaterie.

Dapur Cokelat 1

Within thirteen years, Dapur Cokelat has managed to set its foot firmly in Jakarta, Makassar, and Surabaya with around a dozen outlets. Many may not recognize that the success was made from a combination of talent and determination of the owners. Ermey Trisniarty – who happens to be the mastermind behind all those good looking cakes and chocolates at Dapur Coklat, met us recently and reveals how it all started.

The determined one

Born from a family of food lovers and home bakers, Ermey quickly rose to prominence as the talented one when she was entrusted to assist the family’s home business at a very tender age. “I remember helping my mom selling iced cake when I was a kid”, she reminisced. Even only at home scale, her mom’s business had been well-known by notable people, especially those who came from Makassar – the city where her family was originally from.

As a teen, Ermey decided to discover more of her talents with pastry as she headed for Bandung to study at NHI, the country’s most prominent tourism school. “It was intense back in NHI as I had all the trainings theoretically and by practice, day in and day out”, she confessed and later admits that it was ultimately one of the highlights that brought her to closer to success.

Dapur Cokelat 2

Back then, the theses of NHI students were examined by professional foreign chefs from five-star establishments in Jakarta and her work caught the attention of a master chocolatier, Dieter Speer, and she was immediately inducted to work at Mercantile Executive Club. “Several years there were such an enjoyable time as I learned a lot by just working with the chefs, but soon I realized that what I was aiming for was to continue my study after all”, said Ermey.

Even though she was bestowed with the privilege to fuel her passion since very early while many people usually found their calling at a later stage in their lives, struggle remains the keyword that made her an achiever. She decided to resign from Mercantile and continued her studies at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture by specializing in agribusiness much to the amazements of many.

“My friends questioned my decision about this choice, but somehow I can relate agribusiness to what I had gone through and found it beneficial nonetheless”, she said defending her choice and continued,  “Resigning from Mercantile left me with a lot of free time before heading to college in the evening. That’s where I decided to find myself a full-time job”.

For her nine-to-five work, she joined the ranks of the editorial team of Sedap, a distinguished local magazine featuring cooking tips and recipes. “At Sedap, not only did I write, I also helped the clients to devise recipes and did also a lot of food styling,” said Ermey recalling her time there and describing how her previous job benefitted her a lot in this line of work. At the end of the day, she rushed back to Bogor for her studies almost every single day.

The advent of Dapur Cokelat

During her days in Bogor, she met her future husband and co-owner of Dapur Cokelat, Okky Dewanto, by a recommendation from her landlady who suggested that she should meet the brains behind Bogor’s famed apple pie shop. Impressed by Ermey’s skills in pastry and her passion, Okky suggested that she open up her own chocolate shop and he was more than ready to become her partner for it.

“Okky is a seasoned man in the F&B business with an amazing portfolio. His shrewdness convinced me to start Dapur Cokelat and in 2001, we built our first ever outlet at Jalan Ahmad Dahlan,”she said recollecting how it all started.

Dapur Cokelat 3

It wasn’t easy at first as Ermey had to brace herself to maintain the business with her remaining savings and even that time, they were still unable to finish decorating the store. “We were lucky that I had always been a collector of mugs and we finished our decorations using that. That’s how we did it modestly with Toko Cokelat, before it was finally known with Dapur Cokelat,” as she reminisced their early struggles.

Their business was finally having the big break thanks their continuous hard work and boosted also by a weekend article from
Kompas. “All of a sudden after the article was published, people were simply flocking to our store and more and more people came each and every day!” exclaimed Ermey clearly remembering how exciting it all was some 13 years ago.

“I always tell people that starting a business is easy, but to maintain it, now that’s the real challenge!” At this stage, the most challenging thing to do for Dapur Cokelat is to always stand up and be ready for competition. For that, Dapur Cokelat has to always come up with fresh creations and in terms of leadership, her way of treating the employees as a part of her family is also a way to be successful.

As you can see, through all these hardships Dapur Cokelat has become a huge success and it all started from Ermey’s home kitchen where she assisted her mom daily to bake cakes and traditional delicacies. Who would have guessed? I guess only those who believe and are willing to work hard to make their dreams happen would.

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DAPUR COKELAT
Outlets in Jakarta, Surabaya, and Makassar
www.dapurcokelat.com
Twitter: @dapurcokelat

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Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE April 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photos by: Dennie Benedict

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