Category Archives: Interviews

Chef Marco Lim: Indonesia’s Envoy of Padang Peranakan Cuisine

Passion meets the man behind the renowned Padang Peranakan restaurant Marco by Chef Marco Lim. The executive chef himself shares us stories behind his love for food and the mission to expand abroad.

It has been a long time, Chef Marco! What are you currently preparing for your restaurant these days?

This Ramadan we have prepared a new set menu – the Nasi Padang Berjamaah. Inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine, we are serving our own take of nasi kebuli using the rice from Solok, West Sumatra. It has similar characteristics – a bit elongated and not sticky. Much like basmati rice.

We are also pairing the rice with kambing kurma. This dish is very popular in Pandangpanjang, especially during Ramadan. Traditionally, it doesn’t use any dates at all as the name implies, and the green color came from the use of coriander. The dish comes in family portion. It’s something like what we call in West Sumatra as makan bajamba – the time of the year after harvest when people gather and eat to celebrate.

What makes Marco different than the rest of the competitions?

I’d like to think that the restaurant is more of a mixture between authentic Padang cuisine and my Chinese inheritance – or Peranakan. The food is what my family cooks back at my home in Padang for four generations now. For example, we have in the menu – dendeng cah pade, my grandmother’s version of dendeng cah darek from Bukittinggi.

Other than the flavors, I also make sure that the colors and aroma are the same as what we have back in Padang. That’s why the ingredients are brought here fresh from the country – starting from the rice, chilies, turmeric, and even the crackers. For Ramadan, we are importing about a ton of ingredients!

As for the cooking process, we are still using traditional wood-fire stoves at the central kitchen. This way, you can even sense that the aroma is different than when cooked using modern stove. The meat itself becomes smoky. That’s how we devoted ourselves for authenticity.

You also have several different concepts within your already established restaurants. Care to elaborate that?

Sure. Based on the demographics study, we decided to open our first coffee shop concept at Gandaria City. There we emphasize more on beverage and snacks. As for the main dishes, they are instead served like a rice bowl.

We have secret menus as well. For example, our dendeng batokok is using wagyu rather than the usual beef but only at Pacific Place. Additionally, we have our mie goreng rendang only for delivery orders. You really should try the latter. It was our best seller during one of our missions with the Tourism Ministry back in South Korea.

About your collaborations with the ministry, can you tell us a bit about it?

We did several trips with the ministry to promote Indonesian food to South Africa, The States, South Korea, and Spain a while back. Madrid was an exciting opportunity especially. We were given the opportunity to serve a 7-course Padang-style dinner.

We even brought around 125 kilograms of ingredients from here! Only the three of us did the whole cooking and plating for a gala dinner a lot of guests. We also prepared about 600 sticks of sate Padang. After that, I was also given the opportunity to teach about Indonesian food at a local university.

We heard that Marco is planning to expand abroad. Can you tell us about it?

Yes, we have plans to open new restaurants in Bali and Kuala Lumpur. We are still in the middle of planning it properly. My major concern is how to retain the authenticity of our ingredients and transport it abroad. The restaurant’s concept would be similar though. We are still going to serve our dishes in their original form and taste, all freshly cooked. We are planning to open our first restaurant abroad hopefully in 2019.


Original link:
http://www.passionmedia.co.id/b/indonesias-envoy-of-padang-peranakan-cuisine-

Photography by Edwin Pangestu

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Mira Yudhawati: Gaining Knowledge Through Competitions (Passion, Apr 2018)

There’s always a lot to learn from the coffee industry, especially nowadays. The one we’re sitting with today is Mira Yudhawati, among the most esteemed personas in Indonesian coffee world. She shares us a story about her life as a world competition judge and as someone who sets her hope high for Indonesian coffee.

How’s your story with Caswell’s at the beginning?

I started to work for the company in 2008. Back then, Caswell’s was already known as Indonesia’s first specialty coffee business. Even back when coffee has not yet reached the level of appreciation like today, Caswell’s had already sent its people all over the globe for symposiums and competitions. We have our first Indonesian barista from here competing in WBC, or even judges for international competitions. The company’s reputation was among the main reasons I joined here at the first place.

How’s the transition so far after the acquisition for you?

As of now, I am still entrusted by the company as the General Manager. Since the takeover by BonCafe, we’re still pretty much the same as family – only bigger. Instead of focusing only for coffee like we did since 1998, Caswell’s is now a one-stop hub beverage company.

So, other than managing only specialty coffee beans, machines, and classes; we are taking care of other products such as smoothies, juices, tea, and many more – especially for wholesales. Currently I am still adjusting to a new culture, which is both challenging and very exciting.

Can you explain a bit about the Q Grader certification and how people often relate it to you? 

Q Grader certification was first held in Indonesia back in 2009 and yes, I was among the first Indonesians who received the title. But I was actually not the pioneering Indonesian woman who got the certification. Perhaps people mistook that with me being the first Indonesian woman appointed as an international WBC (World Barista Championship) judge.

As a Q grader, we are certified for certain technicalities in coffee business. However that does not automatically makes us qualified to be an international judge. Even so, being a Q grader, you have privileges while being tested as an international judge. For example, we get to skip certain questions that are reserved only for those who have not yet attained their Q grader certification.

Can you share us some of your stories being an international judge?

Well, I have just recently returned from a competition in Haikou, China. As an international judge, there will be invitation from time to time and I am very grateful for these opportunities.

I think the most exciting part from the competitions is when meeting other judges from around the world and to share with them anything new about coffee. Even myself as a judge, I always started with a clean slate whenever I’m on duty testing baristas from all over the world with their skills and presentation.

You get to learn so much from barista – what kind of coffee they bring, how they brew it, new techniques, and their presentation skills. It’s an amazing feeling to taste great coffee in accord with their presentations. World class baristas are playing for keeps. They prepare for everything months ahead the competition and that’s what makes them champions.

What about the local competitions? 

I am actually among the co-founders of BGI (Barista Guild of Indonesia). We collaborate with traders and many parties to help nurture the quality of the baristas through competitions. Usually we are entrusted to organize local competitions and I would usually help as the head judge.

It’s great to see the quality of our competitions and the baristas nowadays. Back then, everybody started from scratch so we had to learn through trial-and-error. I remember the time when baristas actually presented their coffee by mixing it with raw eggs, curry powders, and even rose petals!

Now we are happy to see that the standards are there and competitions are held in many places with contestants coming even from rural towns. I do think we have a bright future ahead.

Speaking of which, with the rise of es kopi susu trend, even I observe that Indonesian market share is still so huge that everyone could actually get their share in it. It’s going to be interesting to see what will happen next with our coffee world here.


Original link:
http://www.passionmedia.co.id/b/mira-yudhawati—gaining-knowledge-through-competitions-?searched=mira

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

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