Category Archives: Interviews

Natasha Victoria Lucas: A Journey of Self-Discovery (Passion, Feb 2018)

Sebagai food blogger dan food stylist yang berpengalaman, seorang Natasha Victoria Lucas telah semakin mengenal industri F&B bahkan secara profesional. Pada segment Reinvent di edisi ini, Natasha berbagi cerita mengenai perjalanan karirnya serta bagaimana ia jatuh cinta pada salah satu masakan Indonesia yang sangat terkenal – soto ayam Lamongan!

Bisa ceritakan apa yang Natasha jalani dahulu sebelum menekuni yang sekarang?

Sebagai mahasiswa jurnalistik, awalnya saya bercita-cita untuk menjadi penulis di majalah gaya hidup. Setelah magang di sebuah stasiun TV lokal, kesempatan menjadi penulis majalah rupanya belum terbuka. Maka saya harus bekerja dulu akhirnya di industri yang berbeda yaitu sebagai event manager di sebuah perusahaan sepatu dan sebagai guru musik.

Namun saya tumbuh besar bersama keluarga yang gemar mencoba restoran baru dan anak dari ayah yang punya bakat memasak – bahkan masakannya lebih enak dari ibu saya! Terinspirasi dari itu dan sembari menanti lowongan sebagai penulis, akhirnya saya memutuskan saja untuk mendirikan blog The Yummy Traveler di tahun 2010.

Menariknya sebagai seorang blogger, saya jadi mengetahui lebih banyak mengenai industri makanan dan mencoba berbagai masakan menarik. Ini menjadi alasan bagi saya untuk belajar masak lebih serius lagi. Seiring berjalannya waktu, saya menjadi tertarik juga dengan dunia food photography dan styling hingga akhirnya saya memilih untuk berkonsentrasi sebagai seorang stylist.

Bagaimana awalnya Natasha menjadi seorang food stylist?

Beberapa tahun yang lalu, profesi food stylist masih cukup langka di Jakarta dan saya sudah memulai iseng-iseng sebagai hobi. Satu waktu, seorang teman saya mengajak berkolaborasi untuk sebuah proyek food photography untuk sebuah perusahaan frozen yogurt kenamaan. Awalnya saya enggan karena belum percaya diri, namun teman saya tetap menyemangati. Akhirnya saya memutuskan bergabung dan pekerjaan profesional pertama saya masih terkenang sampai sekarang dan terus berlanjut.

Bagaimana dengan pekerjaan sehari-hari Natasha sekarang?

Selain mengerjakan proyek food styling untuk berbagai restoran, baru-baru ini saya menjadi team leader sebuah tim social media untuk klien-klien dari industri F&B. Satu waktu saya pernah juga dipercaya sebagai host untuk sebuah acara TV kuliner yang namanya sama dengan blog saya.

Biasanya di waktu senggang, saya berburu mencari prop baru untuk proyek fotografi makanan. Kini jumlahnya sudah berkoper-koper tanpa saya sadari! Terakhir saya tengah berkolaborasi dengan seorang partner untuk menulis buku kedua kami – Top Tables.

Bisa ceritakan sedikit mengenai bukunya?

Top Tables adalah buku mengenai direktori tempat makan di Jakarta. Namun berbeda dengan versi sebelumnya, kali ini kami mengajak beberapa orang dengan latar belakang yang berbeda untuk berbagi cerita mereka mengenai makanan dan tempat-tempat yang sering mereka kunjungi di Jakarta.

Bisa ceritakan kenapa Natasha begitu suka dengan soto ayam Lamongan?

Saya selalu suka makanan berkuah seperti soto hingga bakso. Bagi saya, soto adalah comfort food favorit saya.

Awalnya saya menyukai soto adalah sejak bertahun-tahun lampau ketika masih sulit menemukan soto ayam enak di Jakarta. Yang ada saat itu umumnya adalah soto Betawi. Sampai satu waktu akhirnya saya menemukan soto ayam kaki lima kesukaan saya yang biasa mangkal di depan RS Hermina Sunter yang dulu.

Apa keistimewaan soto ayam ini dengan yang lain?

Lebih karena preferensi pribadi saya. Pada dasarnya saya menyukai soto ayam yang lebih bening dengan kuah yang lebih ringan. Saya dan kakak sudah menjadi langganan selama bertahun-tahun sampai kenal dengan pemiliknya ini. Lucunya ia selalu berbicara dalam bahasa Jawa padahal tahu kami sebetulnya tidak mengerti.

Setiap kami berkunjung, pemiliknya tahu komposisi soto ayam kesukaan kami. Biasanya ia menyiapkan hanya daging paha, ada tambahan ati ayam, bubuk koya yang lebih banyak supaya lebih kental, dan tanpa kecap manis. Sayangnya sejak setahun yang lalu saya pindah tempat tinggal ke bagian lain Jakarta dan begitupun RS Hermina ke lokasi baru. Mudah-mudahan soto ayam kesukaan saya masih tetap berada di sana.

Bagaimana dengan resep soto ayam yang Natasha buat kali ini?

Kurang lebih profilnya mirip dengan soto ayam kesukaan saya di Sunter. Namun saya mencoba bereksperimen dengan tampilan yang lebih modern. Mempresentasikan makanan dengan cantik menjadi sangat penting karena makanan Indonesia layak lebih dikenal di level internasional apalagi makanan kita sebetulnya memiliki banyak kelebihan dibandingkan makanan Barat ataupun Jepang.
Mudah-mudahan pengetahuan saya di bidang styling bisa memberikan kontribusi lebih untuk kemajuan masakan Indonesia.


Original link: 
http://www.passionmedia.co.id/b/natasha-victoria-lucas-a-journey-of-self-discovery

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Chef Matteo Meacci: Back to the Roots (Passion, 2018)

Reviving Ambiente of Aryaduta Jakarta as one of the oldest Italian restaurants in Jakarta is no easy task. As its executive chef, Mr Matteo Meacci shared us his thoughts about the highly competitive F&B industry and his profound love for food from his Italian roots.

Can you highlight your experiences so far working in Indonesia?

Spending most of my time in Europe, I have always been attracted to Asia and I wanted to see Indonesia especially. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work here, first with Ocha & Bella for two years and then moved out to Singapore for a few months only to return here again.

Later I was working as an executive chef at De Luca, and then at a hotel in Jakarta and a resort in Lombok. Finally I found my way again to Jakarta and working for Aryaduta as the executive chef for Ambiente. The restaurant will be the first milestone of other new openings that I will personally oversee at other establishments owned by the group.

What is your source of inspiration for cooking? 

Every Italian chef anywhere in the world, they all started from their homes. They learn recipes from their mothers and grandmothers. They all started by helping in the kitchen and became interested with the whole process. Maybe not everybody, but at least 90% cooks from Italy started out like this. Mine came from my grandmother mostly.

That’s the cultural idea that we bring everywhere in the world – something that I experienced when I was a kid, something that my grandma influenced me, and something that I would like to share for everyone.

What can the crowd expect from the new Ambiente?

We want to make our version of home style food – very Italian, classic, and also casual. So basically, it’s about doing the simple things in good way. Our concept is to create dishes perfect for sharing – like cold cuts and cheese on a board for example. Even the mains will be suitable for sharing as well.

This is something that will bring people together. At restaurant or at home, when you have hearty food for everyone, that makes it interesting. People will enjoy not just the food; but the conversation, the act of passing the food around, and the togetherness. That’s what we would like to introduce here.

What sort influence would you like to have here in Ambiente based on your upbringing?

I came from Lucca, a small town in Tuscany – near Pisa and Florence. It’s a very beautiful town on the mountainous part of the region but still close to the sea. We are used to cook seafood, meat, and even games like wild boar or deer. When I return home during holidays, I would definitely eat cold cuts and steaks – T-bones grilled rare with only salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. In Italy, we have a lot of cold cuts variety and here we only have few. That’s why I’d like us to have a homemade version of bresaola or salami here in Ambiente.

I understand also that it’s a tough period for restaurant businesses especially when dealing with imported products. That’s why we need to make do with what we have and use more local ingredients. Here, we cure the meat like in Italy and try to reach the authentic taste. Of course it’s been challenging because of the weather and the humidity. But so far the first results have been good and we’d like to continue doing so.

Living in Indonesia for quite some time now, surely you already have favorite Indonesian dishes.

Yes, it is something that many ‘bule’ really like from Indonesian food – sate ayam! It has peanut sauce, not too spicy, and there’s this charcoal taste thanks to the grilled meat. Other than that, I also like rendang and mie goreng. Those three are my most favorite here!

What would be your future plans as a chef? 

I was really impressed when one time I went to Japan for a week. It has great food, great people, and a strong culture. Although there are many expats there, I think Japan is still a relatively closed country. However, I would love to have an opportunity one day to work there.

My ultimate dream is to retire when I reach 50 and open my own small restaurant, trattoria-style in New Zealand! The country is like a big farm. It has great produce, meat, water, and weather. I imagine opening up my restaurant there, serving the best ingredients and seasonal menu for the guests. It would be wonderful!


Original link:
http://www.passionmedia.co.id/b/matteo-meacci-back-to-the-roots

Images by: Dwi N. Hadi

Chef Emmanuel Julio: Ushering The Era of Progressive Indonesian Cuisine (Passion, 2017)

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.


Original link:
http://www.passionmedia.co.id/b/emmanuel-julio-ushering-the-era-of-progressive-indonesian-cuisine

Images by: Dwi N. Hadi

Chef Putri Mumpuni: The Relentless Pursuer of Knowledge (Passion, 2017)

For a 26-year-old chef, perhaps only Putri Mumpuni who has seen a lot of actions introducing Indonesian cuisine around the globe through food diplomatic missions. Recently, Putri shared us her adventures and the relentless pursuit of knowledge, now within the world of pastry.

How was it in the beginning for you, Putri?

It was all started with the decision to enroll myself at a trade school so I could be focusing on hospitality in general. There I knew it right away that I wanted to learn more about cookery. Before graduation, I applied for internship at Hyatt Yogyakarta and worked there for about six months.

That time, higher education was a luxury that my parents cannot afford for me since they also wanted my younger siblings to finish primary schools. After getting myself through several odd jobs, I finally landed a job at Grand Aston Yogyakarta right in the hot kitchen and after some time, I managed also to enroll myself at a local university. Working and studying in-between.

Since I wanted so much also to learn about pastry, I was told to spend the extra hours learning about pastry before the working hours. Of course it was unpaid, but in just about a month, I was finally accepted as one of the crews in the pastry department.

While working with Aston, I was also hired by this French family who lives in Yogyakarta as a private chef. My task was to shop and prepare the meals for them for several times a week so they could spend time dining together as a family.

What was the turning point of your career as an aspiring chef back then?

One time I managed to win gold and bronze medals at Salon Culinaire competition in Jakarta for different categories. Until I met Pak William Wongso for the first time and he motivated me to learn more about Indonesian food, something that I wasn’t very familiar with at that time.

The turning point was actually after I decided to focus competing against other chefs in this television show – Top Chef. I had to abandon my study as well as my job with Aston since I was still in the competition for months. In the end, I was eliminated from the Top 9 but I decided to contact Pak William and he offered me a position at his company.

What was the single most challenging task you ever had so far in your career?

My first ever task from Pak William Wongso was to host an Indonesian gala dinner in the Czech Republic for around 80 to 100 embassy guests and foreign dignitaries. I had to do that all by myself!
He asked me, “Putri, can you handle it?” and I said yes with confidence. We did a lot of preparations and I spent around two weeks there. I had to train the local kitchen staffs to cook Indonesian food with minimum communications, since not many can speak English. Google Translate helped me a lot, much to my surprise!

Finally the one-night Gala Dinner went well. We were also preparing Indonesian a la carte menu at the restaurant for the whole two days afterwards.

Share us also your other endeavors with William Wongso’s team across the world?

Usually we received invitations from Indonesian embassies all over the world to organize Indonesian gala dinners or appreciation dinners. So we brought local ingredients, train the local crews, and host the dinners. So far we have been to Japan, South Korea, The Philippines, Germany, France, Singapore, Malaysia, and United States.

However, food diplomacy can go much further than that. Before going to a certain country, we usually get in touch with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Tourism, or BEKRAF (Indonesian Agency for Creative Economy) so they could coordinate with local institutions to create programs such as workshops, cooking classes, consultancies, or private dinners.

Can you tell us about your work here with BEAU and your future plans?

My move here was fully motivated again by my curiosity with pastry. It’s like when I first tasted how good the real taste of rustic baguette was when in Paris, I really wanted to know how to to make it. The opportunity came and I was very happy to witness firsthand how good Talita is with pastry and her wonderful efforts she has done for BEAU.

Currently I’m being entrusted with the whole operations in the kitchen and together we have been developing the menu since last year. She has taught me a lot and shared many ideas with me so I can improve from time to time.

My future plan? Well, one day I want to manage an Indonesian restaurant abroad, or even perhaps my own restaurant!


Original link:
http://www.passionmedia.co.id/b/putri-mumpuni-the-relentless-pursuer-of-knowledge

Images by: Edwin Pangestu

Chef Eric Gouteyron: The One Who Fell in Love With Indonesia (Passion, 2017)

The seasoned French chef Mr Eric Gouteyron welcomed Passion at his boutique pastry shop L’Amandine in Kelapa Gading, Jakarta. There he told us about his colorful soon-to-be four decade career as a professional pastry chef and how he fell in love deeply with Indonesia.

How did you become a pastry chef?

You can say my passion in this industry went through two important stages in the beginning. First, there was my mother who taught me pastry since I was 12 back in my hometown Le Puy, nearby Lyon.

Then, I decided to pursue my passion and applied for apprenticeship, worked at several pastry shops, and finally met Mr Gerard Sciennat – the second person who inspired me immensely. He’s a gifted pastry chef who always created masterpiece for his clients. He motivated me to join competitions. When I got first place, he gave me an opportunity to train in Paris.

You had a fantastic spell back in New York we heard. Care to tell us about it?

I was recommended by an American friend during my training in Paris to work at The River Cafe in New York, a famous restaurant by the river overlooking the Manhattan district. It’s a very beautiful restaurant and my first time working abroad. Moreover, celebrities frequented the restaurant from time to time. I met Rod Stewart, Luther Vandross, and many more during my time there.

Next I was appointed as the Executive Pastry Chef at The Plaza Hotel, my first time working for five-star establishment. I stayed there for fourteen years and we did also many celebrity weddings there like for Eddy Murphy, Michael Douglas, and for Mr Trump as well – the proprietor at that time.

What’s after New York and why did you decide to stay in Asia afterwards?

Next I joined Fairmont Hotels group and was assigned to their property in Dubai. One time I was also part of the pre-opening team for Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi.

As for why I stay in Asia until now. It all started during my tenure back in Dubai. I was working perhaps with the best team I ever had in my entire career. It was a team comprised of people from different nationalities, and I found out that Indonesians in particular are very passionate people. That’s why I wanted to find out more about Asia. From there I went to Hong Kong and eventually, Indonesia.

How did you start it here in Indonesia?

After a brief spell with Intercontinental Hong Kong, I joined The Harvest here as their F&B Director. At the end of my contract, I met my old friend Chef Chandra Yudasswara, whom I had the pleasure to work with during my time back in Dubai. We work together now. He’s expanding Portable Kitchen & Bar, and I’m running L’Amandine as the pastry counterpart.

So, how would you suggest people to enjoy L’Amandine products and can you highlight some of the best?

Well, imagine yourself back at home and feeling hungry. Imagine how nice it would be to please yourself with a slice of our bread, added with smoked salmon, cold cuts, or put some sour cream on our homemade rye bread. Perhaps you can also make yourself a quick sandwich, with BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato) and melted cheese on top. You can do a lot of alternatives and very healthy as well.

The signature product for L’Amandine is the Black Diamond – an entremet of almond & chocolate dacquoise, with mild acidity came from passion fruit and the sweet, light bitterness of the chocolate. We have also the Black & White Truffle and Chocolate Double Fudge. We’re also known for our croissants.

Now that you have been living here for quite some time, are you planning to stay in Indonesia for good?

As a chef, it’s difficult to imagine myself dropping the suitcase and settle somewhere permanently. But for Indonesia, I really enjoy myself living here and I am seriously considering to stay for good.
There’s something that I admire from the people. Here people act naturally and they are always smiling. Even though life treats them bad, they are still genuinely happy. This is a situation unlike anywhere else I ever found out during my travels.

Lastly, tell us about your favorite Indonesian food?

Oxtail soup is nice. I also like gado-gado, rendang, and other Padang food! I don’t eat much rice but nasi goreng is a good treat once in a while.


Original link:
http://www.passionmedia.co.id/b/the-one-who-fell-in-love-with-indonesia

Images by: Edwin Pangestu