Tag Archives: Chefs

Charins Chang, The Explorer of Textures

Charins Chang’s passion for science and baking brought her to Indonesia after many years living abroad. In no time, she has captured the hearts of many through her well-crafted cakes and desserts. What are her hopes and struggles living the dream in Jakarta? Here, Charins shared the story for everyone.  

What got you into baking in the first place?

I started baking since high school and that’s because Betty Crocker’s brownie mix. I was amazed even with the process of just mixing the powder with water and then it becomes a cake. But the reason why I love baking is because it is so closely related with science and all about the chemical reactions! You don’t really see it with your eyes but it’s happening.

Did you study at a cooking school after that?

Interestingly, I went to Australia not to learn more about baking, but I was studying Biotechnology for five years there. After graduation, I moved back to Singapore and started working in the petroleum bioengineering industry. However, I never lose my love for baking. I did it almost every night and shared the cakes with my friends, to the point that my family became so sick of my baking! (she laughs)

That’s why I started my cake business online on charins.com and then after a year, I finally decided to study more properly about pastry. I did a bit of school in France and an internship with a champion pastry chef there. I was immersing myself with the language and the countryside, steering away from Paris. After that, it’s time to move to Jakarta.

What made you move to Jakarta instead of Singapore?

My parents have always been very supportive with my plans and when I told them that I want to move back here, everyone came along! We all still visit Singapore from time to time though.

Why Jakarta? I think it’s because the people are more chilled and fun here. There’s also something charming about the city, despite of course – the traffic. I saw also a high demand for quality desserts and pastries in Jakarta, but you could only find a handful of good pastry shops here a few years ago when I came. That’s the opportunity that I had been looking for.

What happens next?

Originally, the reason why I moved back was to open my own dessert shop here. After a few years though, it’s easier said than done. I don’t want to just jump in recklessly and struggling unnecessarily just because I needed more experience in the industry. So, I decided to just take my time exploring the city and looking for opportunities. I keep my Instagram active and the online cake shop helps me get by.

From there, turns out that I received a lot of opportunities for consulting, creating menu, and for supplying. There’s even this café from Myanmar which was asking to collaborate. Benedict and Heavenly Sweet found me also on Instagram.

Care to share us a bit about your dessert creations?

When I first joined Benedict, I revamped the whole dessert menu. That time, there was this hype for the Thai mango desserts, and I decided to jump in by creating my own interpretations. Surprisingly, the Mango Sticky Rice Tart was a huge success and people started posting about it.

I also created a sister dessert for it called Tart Ketan Item – with coconut and black sticky rice. It’s basically a twist of our traditional dessert of bubur ketan hitam. There’s also Marie Regal Cake because yes, everyone loves Marie Regal!

I also started making bite-sized desserts like bonbons since people are not always wanting to eat a whole cake. In each bonbon, I created a whole dessert that can consists of elements found in cakes, crunch, cookies, and ganache. I put also many things like potato chips, wajik, nastaar, and talam. For my creations, I just love doing my own formulations instead of copying recipes.

Why bonbons by the way?

I’m more interested in chocolate because it’s very science-y and no one’s making bonbons seriously yet as far as I know. I suppose it’s because the high level of difficulty to mass produce it. Bonbons must be made carefully because it won’t be good otherwise. You need to temper chocolate to a certain degree, or the fat crystals won’t crystallize properly so it won’t get the good snap. It’ll be pasty, thick, and won’t have good texture.

But I think the challenge is that most people may find it hard to understand why it costs the same as buying a whole chocolate bar instead. That’s why I’m trying to find the middle ground here to still maintain the quality but also creating time efficiency.

Lastly, what are you plans next?

Opening my own shop, that’s for sure! But for now, I enjoy teaching at Heavenly Sweet every month. I have own classes and I also create my own syllabus based on science! We do one-on-one series about sponge cake, butter cake, pound cake, or only egg whites. We explore why each recipe is made different, why adding this and that yield different results, or how to decrease the sugar content without compromising texture. It’s not about the usual recipe sharing class and for you to bake at home. It’s about how to make the student think more about the process and how to remake recipe in their own version. Other than that, I am also sharing my expertise about baking with less fortunate kids. We are creating these baking classes for them and showing that everyone can bake. We want to let them know that they have options in this industry for their future.


Featured on Passion Magazine

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.


Featured on Passion Magazine

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

Gaggan is the Number One of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2018

Gaggan in Bangkok claims the No.1 spot for a fourth consecutive year, retaining the dual titles of The Best Restaurant in Asia, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, and The Best Restaurant in Thailand.  Gaggan Anand’s eponymous Bangkok restaurant debuted on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2014, rising to No.7 last year.

The winning chefs and restaurateurs celebrate at the sixth annual Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, at Wynn Palace, Macau.

The 2018 edition of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list boasts nine Thailand entries, including newcomer Paste (No.31), headed by Bongkoch ‘Bee’ Satongun, who is also named Best Female Chef 2018. Other returning Bangkok favorites within the top 20 include Sühring (rising nine places to No.4), Nahm (No.10) and Le Du (rising 23 entries to No.14).

The 2018 list includes eight new entries, with Japan claiming 11 restaurants. You can discover the full list here.

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