Q: When did your culinary journey start?
A: In September 1975, when I first joined the Ecole Jean Ferrandi in Paris, France.
Q: What inspired you to get into the kitchen?
A: Difficult question! As in my family no one was working in the food and beverage industry – in the ’70s it was not really well perceived to become a chef. I suspect that my guilt at tasting different food without boundaries triggered this passion, which I later translated into being my professional life.
Q: What cooking or food trends have you most enjoyed over your years as a chef?
A: During the past 40 years I have been roaming in this industry, I’ve witnessed so many different trends that mushroomed every couple of years before quickly disappearing. Ephemere is a French word that best describes those trends that sprout quickly but never last. I am personally back to my original belief that food culture is built on tradition, identity, culture, respect, patience and season. Honestly speaking, I almost forget all those food trends that I used to follow in order to be in the mainstream. Nowadays I call that culinary black out – where you discover that while following trends, you tended to forget to input your personality into your cooking style.
Q: How would you define your current cooking or restaurant style?
A: I describe my cooking style as preparing food with confidence and love, what I would like to eat and share with family and friends alike. Of course, without compromising on respect and harmony for our planet and our true culinary values.
Q: What are some of your favourite experiences as a chef?
A: When one of my students becomes a renowned chef. When, after cooking some food at home, my daughter tells me that she truly enjoyed her meal.
Q: What countries has your career taken you to and do you have a favourite?
A: England, Switzerland, Egypt, Cameroon, Congo, Iraq, Bahrain, Thailand and Indonesia, to name a few! I do not have a favourite country. I describe myself as a modest citizen of the world.
Q: Do you have a favourite regional cuisine? If so, what do you like about it?
A: As a Frenchman, I do like my southwestern cuisine. This is part of my genetic heritage and I cannot break away from that. The food from my French province is true to its roots, using locally produced items in a way that preserves their texture, aroma, flavour and shape.
Q: In your travels, what new ingredients have you discovered that you love to use today?
A: I’ve found out that Indonesians love to add a hint of sourness to their food. During my numerous travels around this archipelago, I’ve discovered so many naturally grown or processed sour ingredients used in the daily cooking process. I do love using them; playing around with their acidity level, colour, aroma and culinary identity. It’s fun, it’s segar!
Q: What is the most unusual food you have discovered?
A: Black oncom from West Java, and I am love with it!
Q: Where is the most unusual or interesting place you have been asked to serve a dinner?
A: A stone-baking diner in the middle of the Papua jungle.
Q: How would you sum up your career in the kitchen so far?
A: Unfinished, and still going on.
Q: What future goals do you have?
A: Back to basics, it is time for knowledge sharing.