Rosso: Standing Tall Against the Test of Time

Eleven years and counting, still standing tall as ever. Meet Rosso, the envoy of high-end Italian dining from Jakarta. 

We live in an era when contemporary cuisine based on creativity, quality ingredients, and delicate presentations has taken the society by storm. The interesting part is at the same time, the movement to promote local values from traditional cuisines are also gaining prominence.

From budding home cooks to professional chefs, nowadays everyone is harnessing the wide availability of information and ingredients from all over the world to conjure up innovative cuisines by creating a synergy – partly inspired by traditional dishes, using the freshest possible ingredients, and applying modern cooking techniques. Not to forget, the dishes are also aesthetically presented.

Embracing the harmony of these aspects for years of its existence is Rosso. Tucked in the corner of the lobby level of the opulent hotel, Rosso clad itself with the color of red. The many windows of it invite the sunlight, evoking the much needed warmth and intimacy thanks to the gray skies Jakarta this rainy season.
There’s a light touch of Renaissance era found from the paintings on the ceiling of the restaurant. The elegant dining room is juxtaposed side-by-side with the lounge and the bar. In the back, an open kitchen for pasta and pizza serves also as a showroom for a wide collection of antipasti, cheese, and cold cuts available for lunchtime and Sunday brunch.

My virgin flight with Rosso started from a Sunday brunch back in 2008 during the time of Chef Alessandro Santi. It was deemed a rare find to be able to enjoy brunch culture back then in Jakarta. The next few years brought me to know chefs Oriana Tirabassi and her successor Paolo Gionfriddo, whom the former actually taught me personally about the many types of Italian cheese and further appreciation for an Italian element that always eludes me – gnocchi. Finally in 2016, Chef Gianfranco Pirrone reigns supreme.

Hailing from Sicily, Chef Franco is breathing his homeland’s charms and the best from twenty Italian regional cuisines to Rosso’s ever-evolving artistry. This January 2018, he will be unveiling a fresh lineup for the menu.

“Firstly – the Gourmet Pizza, which is the current hype in Italy. The concept itself is to elevate pizza to a new level. For example, by using porcini or foie gras as the topping. Or one can also use beef tartare and even applying scallop and lobster on a blackened pizza. I’m planning to introduce this as an appetizer”, explained Chef Franco.

Among the many varieties of fresh pasta available at Rosso, Chef Franco decided that 2018 would be a great start to introduce his childhood favorite – the cappelletti. Shaped like small hats, as the name implies, each cappelletti is filled with thickened lamb ragout and paired with creamy parmesan sauce and truffle butter.

“The cappelletti represents my family Sunday brunch back in Italy. Usually it was cooked by my mother or grandmother. This time I made a twist with the filling and the sauce for our guests”, shared the chef.

Growing up with his family foodie culture also inspired him to share other favorite recipes such as the veal tenderloin with walnut sauce and the perfectly cooked Australian tenderloin with gorgonzola sauce and roasted potatoes with caramelized shallots. For the desserts, the seemingly simple chocolate foam with coffee sauce, apricot, and mint actually delivers a sweet and satisfying ending from the whole ensemble.

Chef Franco also shared his other plans. “We are improving our Sunday Brunch from time to time. We try to limit the size of the buffet but we compensate it by presenting only the best produce. Cheese, cold cuts, mini ala carte dishes are available at your disposal. We try to serve our guests freshly cooked fish, meat, and pasta.”

“Additionally, we still have the risotto and pasta cooked on parmesan wheel every Sunday. I have also an idea to bring this concept for dinner. I want to present it to the guest personally by using the trolley. Let’s see if they will like it”, says Chef Franco confidently.

Rosso of Shangri-La Hotel Jakarta has become a role model for other Italian restaurants in Jakarta and has been so for the past eleven years of its existence. It is apparent that Rosso never shies away from the face of competition and today, what it presents us is a testament about how the preservation of pride and authenticity of traditional Italian cuisine can adapt harmoniously with the ever-changing dynamics of modern restaurant business.

ROSSO, Shangri-La Jakarta | Kota BNI, Jalan Jend. Sudirman Kav. 1, Jakarta | T: +62 21 2922 9999

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Images by: Shangri-La Jakarta


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!

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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.

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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!

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Images by: Edwin Pangestu

Krakakoa: The Finest From the Labor of Love (Passion, 2017)

The bean-to-bar movement within the cocoa and coffee industry, or the farm-to-table concept found in gourmet restaurants of today have noble ideas to begin with. After four years in the business; Krakakoa has empowered hundreds of farmers, created a lineup of award-winning artisanal chocolate bars, and is ready to represent the finest from Indonesia.

Sabrina Mustopo knew well that Indonesian cocoa has a lot of potential waiting to be further discovered. Her experience working with governments and international think tanks for agricultural matters brought her to a realization that improving the lives of the farmers will positively affect the cocoa industry and the nation’s economy. As we know it, our country is the third largest cocoa producer in the world but severely lacking when it comes to quality.

Together with her colleague Simon Wright, Kakoa was established in 2013 – which later rebranded as Krakakoa. The aim is to produce high quality Indonesian cocoa beans through sustainable farming methods and direct trade. Initially concentrated with plantations in Lampung; Krakakoa also partners with farmers from Bali, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi.

Krakakoa starts by training the farmers on a two-month program before finally outfitting them with tools, guaranteeing a good buying price, and giving them the freedom to choose whomever they want to sell their cocoa beans to. This bring a sense of motivation and responsibility for the farmers to truly tend their crops, while at the same time improving their livelihood and the whole industry in general.

Today, Krakakoa has a rich lineup of cacao-based products, from the single origins and flavored bars, to cacao nibs, drinking chocolates, and even cacao tea. The highlights from Krakakoa are the award-winning, signature single origin of 70% Sedayu Sumatra and 75% Saludengen Sulawesi bars. Additionally, the internationally recognized Academy of Chocolate from London also awarded their uniquely flavored chocolate bars such as the dark chocolate sea salt & pepper, the dark milk chocolate ginger, and the milk chocolate creamy coffee.

Further pursuing their ideals to showcase quality chocolate from Indonesia for the world; Krakakoa has been partnering with F&B personas and establishments – in addition to displaying their lineups at gourmet retailers in Jakarta, Bali, Bandung, Surabaya, Tangerang, and as far as Singapore.

Office: Jalan Bangka Raya no. 42A-1, Jakarta | T: +621227707031

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Images by: Krakakoa

The exciting gastronomic escapades of a foodie journo!

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