FRAMED: Fernando Sindu & Ivan Wibowo (JAX, July 2015)

Meet Fernando Sindu and Ivan Wibowo, the two successful young chefs who are now running the show behind three restaurants and a private dining venture. Curious about the story of their success, we decided to meet them at Benedict – the premier all-day breakfast restaurant in Grand Indonesia.

Brought together by their passion in the world of Gastronomy and formed a bond beyond partnership to reach the same goals together.

Two and a half years in private dining scenes and pop up brunches with their own brand – Good For Eats (G48), chefs Fernando Sindu (Nando) & Ivan Wibowo has demonstrated the urban crowds from Singapore to Indonesia that modern cuisine can be presented in a lively and inventive way.

There is a beautiful harmony from what these two chefs usually show as their cooking forte: a creative mix between Japanese, Mediterranean, and a touch of Spanish/Mexican in their dishes. Their background as graduates of the Culinary Institute of America in New York and their time apprenticing in stellar fine dining establishments such as Noma, Jean Georges and La Boqueria has certainly elevated the way they see culinary scene nowadays.

Their background as graduates of the Culinary Institute of America in New York and their time apprenticing in stellar fine dining establishments, has certainly elevated the way they see culinary scene nowadays.

From the success of their first restaurant with fast food gourmet genre at Umabo, and then Canting in Yogyakarta, as well as the much-loved Benedict now; we are intrigued at what are the experiences they can teach to us readers, foodies, and aspiring chefs alike.

Can you share us what made you decide to embark on the culinary field?
Ivan: Basically I love to eat like we all do, but I was highly influenced by my grandmother and my mom when it comes to cooking. When I was studying abroad, I corresponded with my mother to refresh my memories of classic Indonesian dishes. The cooking thing continues since then.
Nando: From early age, I already love talking about food. My parents recalled that I knew the direction to our favorite restaurants even when I was still little. Other than that, when my parents were away, I was taught about food and cooking by our house maid. She’s now already retired but thanks to her, I developed my love with cooking.

Can you tell us a bit about Benedict’s concept?
Nando: We started the gourmet breakfast concept because that time nobody was doing it specifically and we thought… why not? Our time with G48 showed us that there’s a promising segment that we can approach with this concept and that’s what we want to introduce with Benedict.

A fascinating and finger-licking Korean Bowl.
The A-list dessert, B&B – Maple Bacon Custard Ice Cream, Beignet and Brown Sugar Crumble.

Can you tell us your long term goals with your career?
Nando: Again we have to be different and there’s a need to constantly creating something new. I am a stern believer of the philosophy of “carpe diem” and we’re making most of our time with our businesses now. With G48, we can do whatever we have in our minds but for the restaurants, we have to be creative under a very strict theme.

What are the qualities that define a good chef?
Ivan: You have to be proud of what you do and always put your personality in the food. Other than that it’s consistency. The quality that you attain now with what you cook should remain consistently high – be it for tomorrow, a month, or even a year from now.
Nando: Exactly. Consistency is something that you have to obtain. But in order to achieve that, discipline is one thing that we were taught back then in the cooking school. We’d be getting major minus points even if we were only skipping a class. Aside from this, leadership is also very important. We have to know our place in the restaurant, but outside, I consider everyone friends.

Who are the chefs that inspire you?
Nando: The best experience that I ever had come from when I was apprenticing under Chef Jason Hua at The Dutch, NY. We were working side by side for a year and then we became friends until today. He’s a kind of chef who doesn’t like to be in a limelight.
Ivan: My grandmother. She knows everything about food. But with professional chef, that would be Chef Matthew Orlando. He was the sous chef of Noma that time and a very disciplined guy. He gave out new challenges for me every day.

What do you think about the competition?
Nando: Competition can be quite scary nowadays but we are motivated by it. This happens because the market is very open now. Everybody can cook and it’s easy to learn from Youtube, it’s easy to sell your products through online business, and everybody can open a restaurant basically anywhere. We have been in the business with G48 for some time now and yet, we have other chefs doing it as well here. They came from prominent backgrounds and got nothing to lose. With Benedict now, there’s an additional demand that requires us to be always ahead in the competition.

Your favorite food?
Ivan: Kwetiaw! (laughing)
Nando: Ivan and his kwetiaw. Anytime and anywhere! Anyway, I love mynasi goreng and bakmi.

Lastly, after living abroad for quite some time, what do you think about Jakarta now?
Nando: The most hated thing in Jakarta is none other than traffic. It is unbearable and we lose a lot of time because of it.Despite of that, I love the city, the people and the food! It even surpasses New York. The best part of Jakarta is also its strategic location. We don’t have to go to Bali because we have Pulau Seribu for the beach. Hop inside your car and you can spend some time up on the mountain with Puncak or Bandung.


Photo credits: JAX

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