Category Archives: Interviews

La Maison, The Mansion of Macarons (Passion, 2017)

As a newcomer in Jakarta’s fierce pastry shop competition, La Maison quickly announced itself as a pastry shop with an interesting specialty – macarons!

Established in 2011, the company actually started as an online shop. The drive to move forward came from the simple, pure love of baking of its owner Stella Lowis including the pursuit of building her own pastry shop one day.

For Ms. Lowis, her version of pastry shop should be a refined one, based also by her serious education background at Le Cordon Bleu, Australia. “I gained a lot of experience by working part time as a pastry chef at several restaurants and catering company that supplies pastry for five-star luxury hotels”, said Stella. When she returned to Indonesia, Stella worked together with his brother, Harryck Lowis, to experiment over many recipes until finally they’re ready to share it with everyone.

Persevering for several months initially, orders since then had been coming non-stop. After some time realizing, it’s time for her to build her first shop in Medan. Her unique take on pastry was warmly welcomed there. Years passing by and La Maison have started to take shape and grow into something more significant. Finally, it’s high time for her to spread out the wings of La Maison to Jakarta – the one city where appreciation of pastry is at its zenith in Indonesia.

Speaking about the characteristics of this pastry shop, La Maison is almost exclusively promoting a vast array of macarons – a complicated confection that has gained prominence over Indonesian pastry world for the past few years.

“This small tidbit requires delicate hands and a very complex balance between texture and flavor. Its smooth top, ruffled circumference, a flat base, has mild moistness, and it should easily melt in your mouth. Now that’s what we’re aiming for and the challenge proved to be exciting”, said Stella smiling vigorously.

Taking it to the next level, La Maison’s mind-blowing innovations are macaron flavors which are inspired by Indonesian cuisine – such as Nasi Uduk, Lemper Ayam, Martabak Bangka, or even Sate Padang. “One of our best-selling however, is the Salted Popcorn Macaron. Although people tend to perceive macaron as something sweet, the savory version is actually a success”, shared Ms. Lowis.

From the cakes department, Stella personally admits that each and every of them has to be made with passion by using the finest ingredients and decorated with utmost care. “Two things taken into consideration are taste and also the aesthetic elements”, she said. One of La Maison’s signature cake (and apparently everyone’s favorite) is the Mademoiselle – a refreshing take of almond cake with layers of fresh watermelon, strawberries, red dragon fruit, and decorated with red rose petals.

To fully proceed professionally, Stella observes the trend as well. “Locally speaking, pastry has come a long way in our country. People used to buy cakes only for special occasions but now they have found the simple pleasure of enjoying it any time”, she said. Her remark here pointed out how strategic this move to cater Jakartans who are increasingly fond of dining out and nibbling with pastry.

The pastry industry in Indonesia has grown exponentially for quite some time now and shops can be found in many corners of Indonesian cities. The global trends, more or less, influence the demands especially now in the digital era where customers can simply access interesting pastry innovations by browsing through the social media.

So the next question would be, what’s after this for La Maison? Stella is certainly aiming to expand to other cities and in-between, she hopes to engage in interesting collaborations with legends in pastry industry. What’s even bigger in mind for her though is to keep on improving and serving the best for her beloved customers. (RF)

Jalan Biduk no. 66, Medan
T: +62 821 6602 6668 / +62 61 4573 745
Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 11am – 5.30pm

Grand Indonesia, East Mall – Jakarta
T: +62 811 987 6668 / +62 21 2358 1331
Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 10am – 10pm

Original link:

Images by: Passion


Kami, Indonesia! (Moments, Aug – Sept 2017)

“Wujud cinta dan bangga terhadap tanah air ada bermacam-macam. Empat anak muda ini bercerita.”

So that’s the standfirst from the article about the independence of Indonesia quoted from four “young people” – they say. While I might not be the youngest anymore , I do hope that my statement about the meaning of independence for this country will bring benefit for the readers and especially people in industries like journalism and F&B.

Please feel free to read about what I have to say about it and the magazine which you can download for yourself as well.


Download here!
Moments Living World Edisi 3

Dapur Solo, More Than Just Tradition (mise en place, Vol 19 – 2017)

It is now only a year to go now until Dapur Solo, a Jakarta-based Javanese cuisine restaurant chain, commemorates its thirtieth year of existence. Like legends of prominent start-up businesses, Dapur Solo actually also started from a home garage, selling only rujak (Indonesian-style salad with spicy dressing) and fruit juices at that time.

The proprietress Mrs Swandani Kumarga began promoting her rujak to people in her neighborhood spreading pamphlets on a bicycle. Gradually, she began introducing traditional Central Javanese cuisine – particularly dishes coming from the city of Solo and Yogyakarta. She’s paying a tribute to her ancestral hometown’s recipes and from there, her business rose to prominence around the area of Sunter in Northern Jakarta.

Many years later, the same passion and perseverance remain. Hardworking and dynamic as always, Mrs Swan keeps herself in touch with many key aspects of the business. “Passion is key in F&B industy as we will not go far without it. You definitely have to know your customers better, recognize the best ingredients, and once you are bigger – quality control is number one”, shares the lady.

Mrs Swan now runs 15 outlets of Dapur Solo on a different scale – including five full-fledged restaurants and her more recent innovations such as the delivery outposts and an homage to traditional Indonesian desserts and snacks shop, branded as Iki Koue and Sowan.

Despite the business started from as far as 1988, Dapur Solo underwent major expansions which only took place just a decade ago. There was a drive behind all these changes and apparently, the reason was undoubtedly poetic.

“It all started with a dream”, says Mrs Swan. It’s a tag line also seen in one corner of her every restaurant. Her visionary goal is to promote Indonesian cuisine on international level and by that, there’s a perpetual need to expand. Even up until now, there’s only a handful of well-standardized Indonesian restaurant chain and mostly are only in Jakarta, with Dapur Solo as one of them. Competition is rather fierce, especially coming from the more experienced Western cuisine chain restaurants and people’s preference with that.

Mrs Swan was quick to open her second outlet on the wealthy Southern Jakarta neighborhood in 2007 and that was only a year after the re-branding campaign. As an avid marketer and quick learner, Mrs Swan knows really well on how to utilize young talents to create the whole new fresh look of her business, playing around with other initiatives such as the successful delivery system known as DS Lunch Box, and more recently – harnessing the power of social media.


Even so, Dapur Solo is still pretty much conservative when it comes to bigger expansion plans. “We are expanding only by using our own capital. The thought of franchising the business was intriguing, but we do not want to compromise quality”, she says. She is lamenting the fact that many franchisees nowadays are more profit-minded rather than seriously involving themselves in the business.

Now as her Dapur Solo grows, the role of central kitchen and training center become more important than ever. Learning from all the trials and errors, Mrs Swan has created a unique logistics process – starting with devising right recipes since Indonesian cuisine is difficult to standardize, the division of roles between central kitchen and the outlets, the delivery scheduling, and other minute details.


Additionally, Dapur Solo also boasts its value proposition to differentiate what it has to offer against the competition. Two things generally perceived immediately by people in general are that Indonesian food is supposedly cheap and that it can be found easily on the streets rather than at the restaurants. Mrs Swan quickly refute the arguments with several facts of her own.

“Certainly you can always choose cheaper options; but what we have to offer here is hygiene, the quality of water, authentic recipes, air-conditioned restaurants, and service. I have also appointed native greeters as my representative to give that Javanese hospitality, in addition to the Javanese feel that came from the restaurant’s design and the food itself”, she tells us.

Despite her conservative move all this time, Mrs Swan is still faithful with her dream to expand beyond borders, “If the time comes, probably we will need to come up with a smart collaboration plan with investors to open our outlet outside of Jakarta and even abroad”. She prefers to create an open managerial system as a way to keep balance between her family and the shareholders.

Moreover, the government is now more open than ever to promote Indonesian cuisine internationally. With their support, it would be easier for Dapur Solo with its immense experience to tackle issues abroad such as permits, export-import, location, as well as promotion.

Now with her daughter ready to take the rein anytime, it would be interesting to see what happens next. Because even at her age of 56 now, Dapur Solo still continue to surprise everyone here and one day – the most discerned diners abroad.


Images by: Dapur Solo

On My Plate: Chef Susanto – The Street Food Lover (FoodieS, Mar 2016)

Meeting up with chefs can be a lot of fun. Talking about what they cook every day and what are the challenges in their line of duty can be inspirational, but what about if the chefs are talking about how foodie they are in real life?

Chef Susanto (1)

Chef Susanto – Grand Hyatt Jakarta’s Chef de Cuisine of Grand Café, was all into street food and other forms of comfort food. Despite him growing up with big hotels since his first gig at Menara Peninsula and to The Ritz-Carlton Mega Kuningan Jakarta, The Monarch Dubai, Century Park Hotel Jakarta, and now at Grand Hyatt Jakarta; he does not forget at all about his foodie roots.

Chef Susanto is well-versed with hidden street food around Jakarta and other cities, as well as explaining about why are these certain hawkers that he chooses have distinctive advantages than the rest.

At the end of the day, his choice rests upon the smoky chicken satay – the most beloved of night street food and commonly found in many corners of neighborhoods across Indonesia.

“The best part came from the thigh – which is naturally the richest but also meaty part of the chicken, and it has to come also with the fat! Grill it right and have it your way with the peanut sauce. Nothing beats that!”, proudly he tells us all about how he glorifies this beautiful national dish.

While soto Betawi comes next after the satay, he also mentions other places where he would love to spend time at and apparently some of them are iconic.

“Ragusa’s ice cream is enjoyable, albeit the flavors feel very classic. However, what I am lamenting most is the fact that Tan Goei has been closed forever”, he explains.

Yes, it was a sad moment as well for me personally but I was lucky to visit it one time last year before it closes indefinitely.

As the sunlight wanes, our conversation moves on to cheerier topic once more and this time, it’s all about mie ayam, nasi goreng, soto, and so on.


Featured in FOODIES Mar 2016 edition

Food Heroes: Bara “The Supercook” Pattiradjawane (FOODIES, Mar 2016)

Bara “The Supercook” shares FOODIES his words of wisdom from his many years of hardships and achievements.

The internet universe of today is more resourceful than ever and it is now easy for anyone to excel at something at a much quicker rate, more than what we used to know. In the ever evolving culinary world, a plethora of celebrity chefs out there are showcasing their skills in such amazing and undiscovered ways, unknown to anyone before.

This in turn helps people who are actually aspiring to become professionals in the F&B industry. However, in light of these privileges that we have today, would people rather use the easy way to achieve their dreams or to actually explore their aspirations by means of the harsh, old ways?

Bara Pattiradjawane 1

Bara Pattiradjawane is the latter, self-taught breed. He learned the hard way since the time when these privileges never existed before. His inspirations purely came from his love of grandparents’ cookery skills – something that he never thought would drive him to this occupation.

Living his days of youth in The Netherlands with his migrating grandmother, Bara was not only exposed to European food cultures but also to a sense of nationalism as well. He recalls the moment when his grandmother cooked every day for the whole family, “It seemed easy for me back then. Grandma put all the ingredients in and then finished. We then gathered on the dining table to eat together with the rest of the family.”

Among the most memorable dishes that his grandmother used to cook for him was the lamb chop rica-rica. “Despite her many years abroad, she never forgot her homeland. Her stories about Indonesian food and cultures were, unconsciously, the foundation that made me who I am today”, says the Supercook.

Bara Pattiradjawane 3

Bara would say that his development as a full-fledged man of the kitchen has been very natural. His love for cooking grew from a mere hobby but with no expectations that he would one day enter the career professionally. During all those years, Bara traveled all over Europe in search of inspirations and self-teaching himself through new and used cookbooks that he bought during those journeys.

Even so, his academic background and early occupations actually had nothing to do whatsoever with cooking. When he finally returned to Indonesia in the early 90s and spent several years working in different industries. However, only in the year of 1995 that Bara finally decided to become a professional.

“Rejections were commonplace for me during those years. They would say that I am unfit for the role or that food was not an interesting subject for them”, he smiles widely, proving that the errors were worth the experience and that now he shows them all that he can make it.

After years of brilliant career as a TV presenter through his memorable “Gula-Gula” show for eight seasons, many hours of cooking demos, four cookbooks, and his own Youtube-endorsed channel “Bara Supercook” now; it is finally time for the chef to share his love for Indonesian food.

“Never underestimate Indonesian food. It took me a lot of time to learn about it and it’s all about how to balance these rich spices and ingredients for the right harmony”, explains the chef.

Bara Pattiradjawane 2

Even so, he laments the fact that people nowadays are more into foreign food. “Like one time when I became a jury in one of those cooking competitions. The kids as the participants of the competition told me that they wanted to rather learn European cuisines and said to me that Indonesian food did not interest them because of the difficulty.”

“And then I said to them, ‘It’s okay for you to learn about their food but always remember where you came from no matter what. We have brown eyes and black hair, but we will still be nobody even if we’re good with their cuisines. But if you show yourselves that you are good with Indonesian cuisines, that is something’”, spirited as he says this.

Bara is now more grateful than ever, especially with the official release of his latest cookbook at Frankfurt Book Fair late in 2015 and his current role to promote Maluku cuisine.

“I was appointed by the city of Ambon as their culinary ambassador. My plan is to introduce Maluku cuisine to everybody here in Indonesia. Something that even many chefs here don’t know much about”, tells Bara.

Last but not least, Bara shares us his wise words after having the ups and downs working professionally for food for the past 21 years now.

“Never think that it’s all about fame and luxury by being in the television. It’s all about hardships. The kitchen is a tough place to work, even if my shows were shot by the sea or at Mount Bromo”, shares Bara. “It’s not all about getting into the television one time and already you start telling everybody that you are a real chef while you’re only a recent graduate of a cooking school. Please stay humble, prove your creativity and hard work, and don’t forget our roots once again with the Indonesian food.”


Featured in FOODIES Mar 2016 edition


Cover picture by Rian Farisa
Supplementary images are courtesy of Bara Pattiradjawane