Seasoned in rigorous kitchens of five-star hotels from Indonesia to as far as UAE, the Executive Sous Chef Emmanuel Julio from The Dharmawangsa shared us a story about his passion with Indonesian cuisine and his modernist effort to promote it internationally.
Can you share a bit about your career as a chef so far?
Back when I was a boy, my parents used to run a restaurant here in Jakarta and also a catering service. Inspired, I decided to learn more about the world of hospitality during college.
My apprenticeship years in the kitchen started from Regent Hotel and later at Four Seasons in the early 2000s. Since I was only studying general hospitality at Trisakti, I had to start everything from a scratch to become a real chef. Chef Vindex Tengker became my mentor until he resigned from here a few years ago.
After my sixth year at the Regent and Four Seasons, I wanted to seek experience abroad. I was posted in Dubai, again with Four Seasons. After quite some time and together with an Italian chef I used to work with there, he tagged me a long for a pre-opening project at Armani Hotel. After spending five years in Dubai, I finally found my way back home and landed here at The Dharmawangsa.
You have done a considerable length to promote Indonesian cuisine with The Dharmawangsa. Care to share us about it?
It’s all about staying true to the establishment’s concept as a luxurious Indonesian hotel and promoting what we dub as Progressive Indonesian Cuisine. Since the initiative started several years ago, we have done a lot of research and becoming more creative in the way we present it.
It’s a perpetual work in progress but it’s going very well, I have to say. Over the years, we have seen younger generations became more and more enthusiastic with this approach. Not long ago, a Dutch chef specifically came here to study our approach with this modern twist and soon he will be opening a fine-dining Indonesian restaurant back in The Netherlands.
Can you tell us about your recent experience promoting Indonesian cuisine abroad?
Quite recently we were hired to help promoting Indonesian food in Shanghai together with our embassy there. The crowd was particularly enthusiastic and that’s actually beyond our expectations! Dishes such as soto Betawi, sop buntut, and fried rice were all best-sellers. Aside from rendang and gulai ayam, the visitors were also very fond of our gado-gado.
Care to explain what you are cooking today for us?
Today we have the oysters and granita, but we are using daun kemangi instead of fruits for the granita. I also put acar timun underneath it. Also we have prepared you the cured salmon using beetroot and served with tuturuga sauce. I also put tobiko and caviar on top of the salmon.
The next one we have our modern take of gudeg which I pair with foie gras! Quite surprisingly, the sweet and simple seared foie gras really works well with the the whole character of gudeg. Lastly we have the beef tenderloin cooked using sous-vide techniques and served with semur sauce.
What are the challenges so far with this kind of presentation?
Each generation thinks differently about our approach here. Like I said earlier, the younger people are more open with the ideas, but older generation retain their conservative views.
For example rendang, they say it should be served traditionally – “messy and hearty”, if you will. Whereas of course it’s different with progressive presentations. Of course, the classic approach is very important, but we aim to make Indonesian cuisine also visually appealing on international level.
Images by: Dwi N. Hadi