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A Conversation with Chef #1

AGA ALVIAN

CHEF DE CUISINE OF DESA POTATO HEAD

Chef Aga started his culinary career in Australia after he finished his education at Tafe NSW. He has worked at Nomad Restaurant, Sydney, and Longrain which has branches in Sydney and Melbourne. Later on, he returned to Indonesia and joined Mozaic Restaurant in Ubud, Bali. He currently works at Desa Potato Head as Chef De Cuisine as well as develops his knowledge and cooking techniques in a more sustainable way.

Who is your biggest influence in cooking?

Martin Boetz. He was the one that taught me to cook Southeast Asian cuisine, to combine the authenticity of the food, to process spices and to create flavours as authentic as possible with homemade ingredients. That was when I found that Southeast Asian cuisine, now especially Indonesian cuisine, is the food that I want to go towards my career, the food that I want to do.

Tell us the most memorable dish that you’ve ever cooked.

It was when I cooked Daging Balado with Fried Potato for my mom. It’s one of my comfort food and my mom usually cooks it for me. I tried to cook the dish but it tasted different. My mom said it was awful hahaha.

What is the wildest dish that you’ve ever eaten?

Monkey’s brain, a whole-brain that was braised. It tasted just like a cow’s brain.

VEBRINA HADI

EXECUTIVE CHEF OF MR. FOX

 

Nana, as people often call Jakarta-born chef of Mr. Fox, had years of experience in Australia right after she finished her degree in Indonesia. She first started as a cookery student at William Angliss Institute in 2011. From there, she has lots of experiences and finally, she got to work with celebrity chef Shane Delia at Maha Bar and Grill as Chef de Partie until last year.

As a female chef, how do you face the challenges in the male-dominated industry?

In almost every kitchen where I work, the challenge for female chefs is being underestimated. In the kitchen, it’s not only physical but also mental. Not every woman is strong enough to face the challenges. As a female chef we need to show that whatever men can do, we also can do.

Do you have any memorable food?

I graduated from a good culinary school but can’t re-create this food, which is my mom’s fried rice. I’m the executive chef of Mr. Fox, but every time I want to eat fried rice, I always ask my mom to cook.

What’s your trademark?

My basic cook is more into the western kitchen, and when I came to Indonesia, I learned a lot of Indonesian cooking, which I didn’t know how to make before. But since my cooking techniques are western, I always try to combine authentic Indonesian flavor using the western style of cooking.

ARDIKA DWITAMA 

PASTRY CHEF / FOUNDER OF OUI DESSERT

When it comes to making desserts, Chef Ardika loves using local and seasonal ingredients which is in line with his approach to minimize the use of refined sugar. Before running the Jakarta-based pop-up dessert bar, Oui Dessert, he had experience of working with renowned pastry chefs namely, Will Goldfarb from Room4Dessert, Darren Purchese from Burch & Purchese, also Adhika Maxi and Karen Carlotta from Union.

Tell us the most memorable pastry that you’ve ever made.  

It was the one that I made for this event, chips made from homade Jamu (a traditional herbal drink). I think it was quite challenging, especially how to realize my ideas just exactly like what I wanted.

What do you think is the most underrated Indonesian food?

All Indonesian food is underrated and it should get more exposure no matter how it can be through media. There should be more Indonesian restaurants abroad as well. However, it has been better nowadays and you can see Indonesian food has already featured on Netflix. We need to keep up that kind of exposure, we need to continuously educate people that Indonesian food is very good.

TALITA SETYADI

PASTRY CHEF / FOUNDER & CEO OF BEAU BAKERY

 

Dubbed as Indonesia’s ‘Queen of Pastry’, Talita Setyadi is the Founder and CEO of “BEAU

Bakery”, headquartered in Jakarta. After having honed her skills in French Cuisine and Pâtissérie at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, she returned home to Indonesia with the aim to cultivate local talent.

When it comes to baking, who is the most influential person for you?

Peirre Hermes, who is one of the famous chefs in France. He can make pastries like fashion collections and has collaborated with well-known brands such as Chanel and in my opinion, he is very successful in combining pastry and fashion.

What is the trademark of your pastry?

Actually, we have an entremet. It’s a French mouse cake, so it’s only 4cm tall, 3.5cm wide, 9cm long. It’s the form we always use. So, that is our specialty in cakes from Beau bakery.

During your time in the culinary world, what are your challenges as a female chef?

In France, the kitchen runs like a military. What chef means in French is the chief. So they are seen as commanders, and you’re not allowed to answer back to them, you can’t criticize them. Really strict and there is no happiness in the kitchen. I think we can lead with love and compassion. Like a mother teaches a child. So the difference between women and men, in my opinion, they have a motherly spirit that is indeed difficult for men to duplicate.