Fernando Sindu, The Effervescent Chef

Always on the move, the energetic Chef Fernando Sindu is forever seeking new ways to improve himself and expanding beyond borders. With several restaurants under his leadership now, the sky’s still the limit. Join us as he told a story about his struggles and a recipe for you to try at home.

How was it in the beginning for you?

I always have that one wish to become a chef since I was in high school. However, my dad declined my proposition as he was very conservative when it comes about education and career. It happened again when I was about to enter college, and that’s why I have a degree in computer science!

But, upon seeing that I was very persistent to pursue my career as a chef, he eventually agreed to let me try it. However, he wanted me to choose only the best school and the choices were between Le Cordon Bleu of Paris and Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York. I chose the latter for language reason and thus began my life as a New Yorker.

How was the New York story then?

I graduated after a year and eight months from CIA and started working at Michelin-starred restaurants. First at Oceana, it was one Michelin-starred and specializing in seafood. The second one was at Boqueria and it was among the best Spanish restaurants in the city.

I worked there for around three years and I really enjoyed it. Under the guidance of Chef Jason Hua – famous now as the head chef for The Dutch in New York, I was entrusted as a sous chef there. But quite unfortunately, I was only able to stay there until 2012.

What happened?

Found out that foreigners – especially in upper management positions, were having a hard time to extend their working visa around that time. It was the election year and the reasons were purely political.

Boqueria had plans to expand and I was promised for a head chef position. The restaurant sponsored my visa, and we even hired a lawyer to try to win this but to no avail. Disappointed, I returned home, but my dad encouraged me to start my own place here in Jakarta.

While waiting for the opportunity to open my own restaurant at Kemang Village – which eventually did not happen, I met with a fellow CIA alumnus – Ivan Wibowo. Seeing that the private dining business was not a thing yet in 2012, together we formed up Good For Eats (G48). I received ample advice from the pioneer himself – Chef Adhika Maxi, about the know-how in the business. He had been well-known in the business, years ahead from us.

Tell us your career journey here in Jakarta starting from there.

Our first gig was with a huge company’s executives and the private dinner was priced at 350,000 rupiahs per head. We barely made a profit, but it was the experience we had been looking for. From there the words start spreading and we did around two gigs per month.

Not wanting to be complacent, we actively sought other opportunities. We approached The Cook Shop and they agreed to let us run the place for a pop-up gig once a week. The audience liked it and after quite some time, they wanted us to do it every Saturday and Sunday instead!

Our next target was a restaurant back then at Panglima Polim, Mama Goose. They let us run the pop-up during the weekdays and we began picking up more attention. Offers coming in for collaborations, but it was with Union Group that we finally landed the deal. With them, together we built Benedict and it now opens at Grand Indonesia and Pacific Place. My latest project was Cork & Screw Country Club at Senayan Golf – a brand new addition to Union Group’s already long list of esteemed restaurants.

How do you define your cooking style?

I like to be inspired from many cuisines of the world. I also like my dishes to have stronger flavors. I feel very energetic every day and that’s why I like to bring up a wide spectrum of flavors in my dishes – from acidity, a bit of bitterness, salty, spicy, and umami. For the past two years however, I have been diligently playing with more Indonesian flavors.

That side was inspired by my Manadonese wife who love to take me around many Indonesian eateries, especially the cuisine of her people. Many of these are places that I won’t normally visit by myself. That, and the encouragement from a friend of mine who wanted me to do a cooking demo for Ubud Food Festival prompted me to learn more about Indonesian food.

How do you see the Indonesian food movement nowadays?

I’ve had my fair share of experience living abroad, becoming a chef at Michelin-starred restaurants, and working with great people. However, we will never be truly credited if we, as Indonesians, don’t promote our own cuisine to that level. I have a dream that someday my restaurant will get that one place among the ranks of San Pellegrino’s 50 Best Restaurants. But surely, we must all work harder for that.

So, for us to be appreciated by these institutions – like Michelin also for example, we also need to improve the palate of our diners. I’ve seen by myself that Indonesians still order the same menu every day. It’s mostly rice-related dishes for Asian cuisines, or pasta aglio olio for Western. Indonesians need to be more adventurous than this, so chefs and restaurants can come up with creative ideas to serve their diners from time to time.

Other than this, there are friends who have been collaborating with the government to promote the Indonesian cuisine. Albeit limited, we’re yet to see good progress in the future. As for me, I’m planning to travel more for the next two years and see how far Indonesian food can take me. There are more markets to visit and more traditional food stories that I need to discover.

Can you tell us about what you are serving today?

Satay is a highly versatile dish and you can easily cook, you can carry anywhere, and a lot of twists I can play with. Today I have prepared Sate Maranggi with pickles and crispy rice, Balinese Sate Udang with Base Genep seasonings and sambal matah, and lastly – we have the classic Sate Ayam.

I’m creating a platter here that everyone can try at home or alternatively, you can instead cut the meat into cubes and grilled it. I hope you can enjoy my recipe here.


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Kareyca Moeloek, Making Jakarta Healthier One Step at a Time

Contributing the success of Berrywell and Fedwell through hardships and teamwork, Kareyca Moeloek is now seeing Jakarta in a new light – smarter and healthier. She told Passion about her life, her gigs with the Leafwell Group, and how she’s shaping the future with her talented chef-sister Renatta Moeloek.

How was it all in the beginning for you?

Believe it or not, I wanted to become a professional dancer initially! Growing up in Jakarta, I was trained in ballet since early. And it was during high school that I decided to move out to Perth. My plan was to continue my study at a dance academy there. Turns out, I didn’t make it and I was utterly devastated!

Everyone was already in college around that time, so instead, I joined short courses and collect a lot of diplomas – from marketing to event organizing. In the meantime, I had to do part-time jobs as well to make it there – since my parents wanted me to return home.

What happens next?

The easiest job I can get? The hospitality industry. Working at a bar, I was quite enjoying it. I started out as just a glass polisher, and then I was gradually entrusted with the floor and then the café. From there, I realized that a degree in hospitality would certainly accommodate me working in this industry. Moreover, I could make myself eligible for applying as a permanent resident – which my parents eventually supported as well.

Meanwhile, it was finally time for Rena (Renatta Moeloek) for college and she had always known exactly that she’s destined to cook. She wanted to learn at the best place and that would be Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. So, we kept ourselves in touch across different continents through Skype – hoping that one day we can do cool collaborations.

Sounds like you guys were all set to live abroad, but why did you return here?

Rena was promised for a gig in New Zealand after her internship finished at a Michelin-starred restaurant in France. As for me, after my internship at Sheraton, I wanted to explore my opportunities also there.

Turns out, we had visa problems and got stranded in Indonesia. Many years living abroad made me unsure about what I can do in Jakarta, until we decided to embrace any opportunity we can get. We did pop-ups, food trucks, and private dinners. Rena handles the kitchen and me in the service.

But one day, I met an old friend of mine Dio. He started this healthy catering company – Leafwell Group with his friends and wanted me to collaborate for the opening of Berrywell.

So, this is the part where you decided to stay in Jakarta?

Initially I was torn in-between working at a big company, or to help this promising startup company. I decided to choose the latter and began as a store manager at Berrywell’s first outlet in SCBD. Turns out it was a huge success for the company! We have been riding the momentum where people are getting aware with healthy lifestyle.

Long story short, Berrywell then opened new outlets at Plaza Senayan and Menteng Shophaus. Finally, the next best opportunity for me and Rena to work together again came when the group decided to open a new concept of healthy dining called Fedwell. There, I will be entrusted again with the operations and Rena with the menu! We did a lot of research, food tasting, and prepared everything. However, the team was still very busy with Berrywell and couldn’t find the right time to launch Fedwell.

Can you tell us about Fedwell?

Fedwell finally opened on April 2018 and started out again with just normal expectations. Again, much to our surprise, people have been flocking here like crazy, so we had to assign the kitchen crews as well to help with service! Steadily, we’re hiring more people and now we’re enjoying the dynamics here.

So, the concept is similar with salad bars where people can choose the ingredients and the crews will assemble it for you. However here, we serve wholesome, healthy food instead. We don’t do frying here, but we do roast, torch, and steam most of our ingredients. Fedwell is basically a DIY diner where customers can use the order form to create their own dish or to choose from what we have assembled. There are many choices for carbs, proteins, vegetables, and the dressings.

The challenge is to introduce the DIY culture to our customers and creating this mindset that healthy food can also be flavorful. We want to help creating a new, smarter Jakarta where people gradually know how to live healthily and get themselves in touch with good quality ingredients.

What are your plans after this?

The Leafwell Group is still growing, and we are planning for more surprises in the future. As for Rena, we’re currently transforming this place owned by our mom with a new kitchen and a nice place to eat. It’s a small, but we’ll invite people for private dinners. In the meantime, we help each other whenever we have the opportunity, but I do look forward for our new gigs in the future.


Featured on Passion Magazine