Tag Archives: F&B Professionals

What Chef Eats: Michael Whyag (The Foodie Magazine, Mar 2014)

Others may choose expensive restaurants or decadent desserts as their guilty pleasures, but for Michael Whyag – a self-made chef with hotel and restaurant background, it’s all about a simple treat his mom made for him many years ago.

Michael Whyag
Michael Whyag

As somebody who finally realized the joy of cooking not from a young age, Michael Whyag became a student of many cuisines from local to Russian, especially during his hotel days back in Bali. Since making the most of his time with studying has always been his strong suit, his relatively short trip to France was made worthwhile by taking several short courses at Le Cordon Bleu.

As much as he admired how the French pride themselves with details and standardization of the cuisine, he bursts passionately with colorful details when he talks about Indonesian cuisine. Clearly, his love for local cuisine is what that energizes him, especially with current role as general manager and chef for a reputable Indonesian restaurant in a well-known Jakarta shopping mall.

Even though he has studied different cuisines and even the gastronomic aspects that circle around food in general, it all goes back to basics if you ask Chef Michael about his guilty pleasures. We found out that Mike is a big fan of anything related to tofu!

“I have been a picky eater even since I was a kid and my mom decided to cook me mashed tofu for some reason. Since then, it has become a life long love affair with tofu,” he confessed.

That night, he treated himself after a hard day’s work with an easy treat of sauteed tofu and bean sprouts with slices of tomatoes and plenty of chilies. This particular dish itself is a traditional recipe that goes well with warm rice and is something that you can find in many homes and warteg (Indonesian-style diner) across the country.

“So, name anything you can do with tofu and I will surely eat it,” said Mike challengingly. So, despite his demanding daily schedule involving how to manage the restaurant well and his current project to renew the menu, apparently there’s always a time out for a quick bite of his personal indulgence.


Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE March 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photos by: Dennie Benedict


Cover Feature: Meant For Each Other – The Story of Afit & Lucy (The Foodie Magazine, Feb 2014)

The Holycow Steakhouse chain has gained huge success in the past years. To date, they have six outlets and will soon open in Bali. They are known for their great quality steaks at affordable prices. Aside from the business side of the success story, many don’t know that the secret behind Holycow! Steakhouse success is actually chemistry between its owners, the husband and wife team, Afit Purwanto and Lucy Wiryono.

Lunchtime at Holycow! Steakhouse is always chaotic yet pleasant. At one of their latest outlet on Jalan Wolter Monginsidi, lunchtime becomes a mixture between cacophonous laughter from office workers catching up with juicy gossip and the sound of enjoyment coming from patrons eating their well-prepared medium-rare wagyu steaks. Although the latter isn’t really a sound, but more of polite chatter as diners admire and relish their steaks. Together with lovely smiles across their faces, of course. One can sense right away that Holycow! Steakhouse is indeed a successful business filled with so much energy and potential.

And under these busy circumstances, Afit Purwanto and Lucy Wiryono welcomed us warmly and we all sat together alongside their two lovely daughters while enjoying, what else, but our steaks.

As I speak to them, It seems the word struggle has become an often used word to describe the couple’s journey since the day they met years ago. Well, it’s not really about how long Afit had to wait until Lucy finally agreed to start a relationship, but it was more like how far they have gone through that brought them finally to reach this point where they enjoy the success of both their marriage and the business.

The Foodie Magazine - Afit & Lucy 2

Years ago, it was all started with Afit being a huge fan of a radio station program hosted by Lucy with Melanie Ricardo. Melanie happened to be Afit’s friend, and one day, after meeting her, Afit said to send his regards to Lucy. Melanie took the cue and as fate would have it, decided to play matchmaker. The came a first date, then soon after, as Afit and Lucy discovered that they shared many interesting things, together with good chemistry, they started their relationship.

Everything was going well for several months until suddenly Afit hit a brick wall as the company he was working for went bankrupt and his father succumbed to his illness just around the same time. “That was the time when I knew that this is the guy I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. “Afit proved to me that he was a survivor, he struggled to get through it all and came out as the winner”, reveals Lucy.

Of course it wasn’t easy for Afit to ready himself again and move on to the next level. “Well, I had so much on my plate back then. Before this, Lucy stated that this relationship should lead to somewhere but then not long after, I lost my job and my father. I couldn’t even pay my phone bills at the time!’, added Afit reminiscing about the hard times.

Nevertheless life had to go on. Both of them knew that there was an urge to bring the relationship to a new level, until finally Afit sealed the deal in a rather unconventional way. Lucy remembered that day and shares with a wry smile directed at Afit, “He said to me all of a sudden, ‘So let’s just get marry then’ just before I was about to get out of his car on my way to work!”

We went off laughing about how ‘romantic’ his proposal was. It was a bold move but they benefitted a lot from the marriage that took place not long after. Afit got a new job in a TV station and Lucy, who by that time also worked as a TV presenter, got pregnant also.

Afit can’t hide his admiration toward his lovely wife and said to us, “When it comes to principles, Lucy is a very stern person and keeps her dignity intact although we all know about the temptations of working in show business”. He continued, “After our baby was born, she made it clear that she didn’t want a babysitter and she wanted to take care of the baby on her own”.

After a series of ups and downs, to start and promote Holycow!, now they can finally enjoy the fruits of their labor. “The best thing about having a spouse as your business partner is that you can share your thoughts every time and no matter how shocking my business ideas are, there’s always check and balance process from Lucy and it all ends up well-decided’, said Afit proudly.

Steering away from business talks, since we know that both Afit and Lucy are avid foodies, we gravitate to our favorite topic. They have common favorites, Afit and Lucy agree on several places like Ayam Taliwang on Jalan Panglima Polim, a hidden humble eatery in Pamulang that serves really good lamb satay and their favorite Chinese buffet at Table 8 of Hotel Mulia Senayan. But what’s quite revealing are where they disagree. “He likes eating durian a lot but I don’t really like it. On the contrary, I have a sweet tooth and am a dessert lover, while doesn’t really care about desserts at all!’, said Lucy.

They talk about their guilty pleasures in unison. They both once in a while really enjoy gulai gajeboh from Minangnese cuisine which basically is a curry of extremely fatty beef brisket.

‘Well we also enjoy our Betawi-style homemade gulai cincang and we’ll cook it for you guys some other time’, Afit said brimming from ear to ear, especially when it comes to talking about his favorite foods.

To close our enjoyable lunch chat, we asked the pair about their future plans. ‘Well, Afit is thinking to venture into something different in the next few years to come but still adopting the same principle like Holycow! and that is to give value but in an affordable way’.

Afit appeared really hyped when it comes to talking about the plans and upon seeing how they’re meant for each other, we are very sure that Lucy will always be the energy behind his limitless creativity.


Follow their Twitters at: @aafit @lucywiryono and @steakholycow


Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE February 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photos by: Dennie Benedict

What Chef Eats: Astrid Enricka(The Foodie Magazine, Feb 2014)

Grilled beef ribs with Balinese-style sauce and spices? This happens to be Astrid Enricka’s favorite when she took us for a guilty pleasure ride to Jalan Cibulan in Kebayoran Baru.

It’s interesting to see the emergence of young culinary enthusiasts who both excel as chefs or home cooks while also explorers of finer local or foreign cuisines. While achieving one of those may be too much for many, a young talent whom I had the opportunity to have dinner with sometime ago proved that she tackled those two aspects with ease but also happens to be a restaurateur as well!

The Foodie Magazine - Astrid Enricka 1

Astrid Enricka started her successful Acehnese cuisine restaurant almost a year ago and promoted ayam & bebek tangkap as the signature dishes, hence the name Atjeh Rayeuk or Aceh Raya given that the dishes came from that specific territory where Banda Aceh is located.

Upon reaching Sapi Bali, she quickly made a confession, “It’s only natural for me to love the ribs here. You simply can’t find anything like this anywhere”. Well, from what I saw, we can simply enjoy your usual steak for an affordable price here but with a touch of Indonesian style. It’s a good hybrid formula and a good choice made by Astrid because it’s indeed delicious, although the restaurant seemed to be underrated somehow.

By the way, I can see her enjoying the humongous ribs so much with warm rice and a plate of lawar – Balinese mixed vegetables with minced coconut.

When asked about her other favorite restaurants, she reminisced a bit about Pak Datuk – a Minangnese cuisine restaurant back in Riau. “I was born and grew up in Dumai and have gone places since I was a teenager, but I never found another Padang food as good as Pak Datuk’s!”.

Well foodies, you might want to write the name down and make sure to visit the place if you happen to be there.

Jalan Cibulan Raya no. 17A, Jakarta – Indonesia | +62.21.7278.6442
Website: http://sapibalicibulan.blogspot.com
Sapi Bali Cibulan Djakarta


Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE February 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photos by: Dennie Benedict

Stuff of Legends: William Wongso – The Reluctant Master (The Foodie Magazine, Dec 2013)

It took quite a while to find the office of Indonesia’s busiest culinary luminary deep inside the narrow maze of streets around Melawai. Finding the office was one thing, but getting him to stay put for an interview was the challenge. This man is busy. Luckily, we were able to pin him down just before he left for a tour of The States.

I skipped the first floor of the building which seemed to be some sort of kitchen with huge ovens and bustling activity inside. Upstairs I entered an office filled with people drowned in discussions, then the secretary led me to The Man. There, I found William Wongso sitting behind a huge Tasmanian ancient oak meeting table. Behind him, was framed image of himself with the word ‘tradition’ inscribed on it. This was going to be a good interview, I thought to myself.

‘Hi Rian, how are you? I hope you don’t mind that there will be a small cooking activity over there shortly’, he greeted me while pointing to the kitchen just beside the meeting room. ‘I’m currently devising a menu for my client’s restaurant’, he said while preparing me an espresso to jumpstart our morning conversation.

The Foodie Magazine - William Wongso 2

Beginning with a quick flashback of his long-standing career, William said, ‘What you did in the beginning does not always relate with your dream career’. It is well-known that William was a university dropout and has survived through times of trial and tribulation in search for the real calling. He paused to light a cigar and continued, ‘You know, I used to be involved in a printing business, worked in advertising agencies, and even became a radio announcer. Until I finally realized that food had always been something  I was in awe with, thanks to my father’.

‘He came from mainland China, but he had this cosmopolitan palate that encouraged our family to be adventurous with food’, he paused to suck on his cigar and proceed, ‘That’s why I decided to develop new hobbies of food tasting and learning more about produce mostly from traditional markets’.

William Wongso - The Bund Market, Shanghai (1994) 3
The Bund Market, Shanghai (1994)
William Wongso - The Bund Market, Shanghai (1994) 1
The Bund Market, Shanghai (1994)

‘With all the experience working in different fields, my confidence quickly grew and I grew familiar with public speaking and face-to-face communication. My father who was a film producer and a field photographer, he taught me a thing or two about his trade also’, he reminisced.

With his love of photography, William has been able to capture great images from his travels around the globe. It is almost impossible to miss William’s daily photo uploads to Instagram or his tweets about his epic foodie saga. ‘Come to think of it, perhaps I have widest collection of photos from local markets than anybody else around!’, he laughed as he made the realization.

William Wongso - Pasar Sidoharjo, East Java (1993) 1
Pasar Sidoharjo, East Java (1993)
William Wongso - Pasar Sidoharjo, East Java (1993) 2
Pasar Sidoharjo, East Java (1993)

For many years now, William has been championing local cuisine through events and his knowledge of the food and beverage industry. Recently, with the support of from the Ministry of Tourism & Creative Economy, together with comrades Bondan Winarno and Vindex Tengker, William has helped identify the 30 Iconic Indonesian Traditional dishes. This will serve as a stepping stone to further introduce the country’s diverse cuisine and to standardize the local curriculum for culinary and tourism schools.

‘It’s such a shame that because of the Western curriculum, many Indonesians talents have forgotten their roots and choose to excel in French or Italian cuisine instead. But through this effort, we will define our national cuisine and empower people to appreciate their roots more’, he said convincingly. With William’s encouragement, Indonesian dishes are now regularly served in state dinners or even at international meetings like APEC which was held in Bali very recently. You can see the passion in his eyes as he shares his culinary advocacy with me.

Pasar Apung Banjarmasin (1993)
Pasar Apung Banjarmasin (1993)

Before we parted, William shared his words of wisdom regarding what one should expect when entering the culinary field. ‘If you experience failure, it doesn’t mean that it’s a complete failure. There’s 95% of mortality rate in this business and you need to be creative all the time’. William admitted that he has not worked in restaurants recently, unlike in the past. He now enjoys his time sharing his experiences with everyone, especially with younger chefs. But he quickly interjects that he may have a project in Bali opening up soon.

Last but not least, he conveyed an important message to all of us, ‘One thing that you have to remember solemnly – do not forget your roots. One day, you will be one of those who represent the country and the future of our national cuisine might be in your hands’. Wise words from the legend.


Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE December 2013 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photos by: Dennie Benedict and personal collections of William Wongso

Jean-Luc Chretien: Putting a foot wrong can be step on ladder of success (Jakarta Post – June 23, 2012)

Learning from mistakes is an inseparable part of achieving success. It is something Jean-Luc Chretien of Accor has gleaned from his career in the hospitality business.

“I learned a lot from experience because we don’t have the hotel anymore,” he said of the hotel group’s failure to develop its business in Thailand.

“We learned a lot in terms of pricing, how to work with local operators, choosing the right partners for distribution. From that we try not to do the same mistake twice.”

Accor opened its first hotel in Thailand in 1988, two years after Chretien joined Accor Resort as its marketing and sales director, but closed it abruptly.

Seasoned by the experience, he vowed not to make a second mistake twice in anything. He quoted one of his superiors in Accor who said: “You can always make a wrong decision but what you cannot do is to make the same one twice.”

Chretien, Accor’s executive vice president for sales, distribution and loyalty in Paris, was in Jakarta recently to inaugurate an Indonesian-language version of accorhotels.com.

He pronounced it one of his most memorable moments with the group because it has been a long journey to transform traditional distribution into something web based.

“It’s a very symbolic thing because we transformed e-commerce into a strategy beyond traditional languages and markets,” said the 54-year-old.

“Every time, every step that I take and every company that I work with, I become a part of the transformation process. Clearly my mission with Accor is to increase its capacity in distribution and to help develop new channels from e-commerce.”

He is self-effacing when asked to describe modern challenges in distribution.

“For me, the biggest challenge is the fact that I was not born in the Internet era,” he said disarmingly. “It’s like when I told my kids that TV used to be black and white and they didn’t believe me.”

He emphasizes the urgency of adapting to the changes through building a team of experts for optimal use of technology.

“The key to success in this is not simply about the website but about how you’re going to use it, to develop it, to create the traffic, to develop a partnership, etc…”. It also has been a learning process.

“We were not properly up for the challenge and we didn’t have the internal experts. We created a strong team for our website and in each country we recruited new people,” he explained.

“It’s a whole new management scheme in the hotel business since it requires so much expertise. But the people need to be looked after. We need to give them opportunities to develop themselves, otherwise they will sell themselves to somebody else.”

As a result of these focused efforts, his team has gained the trust of Accor hoteliers all over the world with unprecedented revenues.

“I try for my team as well for my company to be creative, but also to be very result-driven. We need to deliver the best results and to transform the way we do business,” he said.

When it comes to solving problems, he underscored the importance of listening to what people had to say and analyzing the situation first before deciding on a course of action.

“Because the worst thing you can do is to not to listen to what people tell you before making a decision. It’s not that you have to cope with everything they say, but you benefit from all the advice and then it’s your responsibility to make the decision.”

It’s all about teamwork in the end because, according to him, he will never become as good as the talented mix of people who work for him.

Multi nationals

Chretien’s career in the hospitality business dates back to 1986 when he started with Accor Resort as its marketing and sales director. A few years later he was appointed senior vice president for distribution for the Disneyland Resort Paris; after a series of distribution and marketing endeavors with high-profile companies in Europe, Chretien returned to Accor in 2007.

Chretien’s ability to work on an international scale and to manage people from different nations and cultures probably also stems from the diversity in his family.

He and his wife, who is from New Zealand, adopted children from Cambodia and now they all reside in France. From the state of his family, he feels the world is now open to new things in many aspects of life.

While his job takes him all around the globe, he has also short-listed his dream places to vacation.

He picked Monument Valley near the Grand Canyon in the US as the best spot because he is fond of cowboy movies. Next up is Luxor in Egypt, New Zealand and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

“That’s it. I have to stop there because I hope the fifth place will be Bali,” he said cheerfully.

Although it’s a rare treat for him to visit Southeast Asia, he wishes to see more of the country, learn about its many cultures and work for the betterment of its people.


Name: Jean-Luc Chretien

Age: 54


Jan 2011 – present: EVP Sales, Distribution & Loyalty, Accor Paris Area, France

June 2009 – April 2012: EVP Marketing & Distribution, Accor Hospitality

Oct. 2007 – June 2009: EVP Distribution and Sales, Accor Hospitality

Feb. 2005 – Oct. 2007: Administrator, Rail Europe Group

Feb. 2005 – Oct. 2007: Director, International Distribution, SNCF – French Railways

May 2001 – Nov. 2004: SVP Sales and Marketing, Pierre & Vacances Tourisme

Nov. 1992 – April 2001: SVP Distribution, Disneyland Resort Paris

Jan. 1986 – Oct. 1992: Director Sales and Marketing, Accor Resort Hotels Division


– Featured in Jakarta Post on June 23, 2012 –