I have been a professional writer for five years.

Gastronomy, lifestyle, travel, sustainability, culture, and history are some of the themes that I have worked with in the past. I love getting involves with individuals, companies, organizations, and communities with stories to tell.

Words, sentences, stories... these are my passion. I love to take new challenges in writing for various format and media. I create contents for websites, blogs, and communication materials.

Reach me at eve(dot)tedja(at)gmail(dot)com

An Interview with Bondan Winarno

Published in Let's eat! Magazine - May 2015.

Bondan Winarno
Aside from being Indonesia’s celebrated culinary expert and TV personality, Bondan Winarno is also a prolific writer and a passionate advocate about the heritage of Indonesian food. We manage to get hold of him before his appearance in the first ever Ubud Food Festival this 5-7 June.

How do you define Indonesian cuisine? Is it possible to define it?
I maintain my position in saying that there is no such thing as Indonesian cuisine. Instead, what we have is a complex array of regional cuisines bound by the nation’s diversity. One nation, millions of flavours! Not only is our traditional culinary provincial, each one also displays a unique terroir (local character). Whoever said Minang food only comes in one genre? Rendang Payakumbuh has a different take from Rendang Kapau. Even Satay Padang comes in three versions: Padangpanjang, Pariaman and Danguang-danguang.

We all know Indonesian cuisine is more than just rendang and nasi goreng. However, those two are the only relatively known dishes from Indonesia. Why is that?
It has been more than a decade since I began answering such a question. But, sadly, the answer has not changed much. I think it is the job of the government to promote our country to the outside world. Among our exotic heritage, cuisine is definitely one aspect that most people would be attracted to. To be frank, the government has done very little to promote our exotic cuisines. In 2011, I got a little funding from the government to produce a TV show for AFC (Asian Food Channel) entitled Taste of Indonesia. Although the program was deemed to be successful in elevating awareness about Indonesian traditional cuisines, the budget was only good for thirteen episodes. I tried raising funding from the private sector, but got no luck. We were only lucky when CNNGo in 2010 placed rendang and nasi goreng as the world’s most delectable food. In contrast, we see our neighbouring countries that have been quite aggressive in promoting their cuisines.

In term of fine dining, will Indonesian cuisine ever be placed in the same level with other Asian cuisine, to be presented in fine dining establishments all over the world?
Yes and yes. What does Thailand/Malaysia/Vietnam have that we don’t? We have so much traditional cooking that just needs a little tweak to be presented as amuse bouche, an appetizer, main course, dessert, or snack. Whichever style you want to present it in –  degustation, formal dinner, buffet, even tapas-style – Indonesian cuisine can face the challenge. 

What do you nowadays apart from exploring the country and eat?
Since my TV show stopped early last year, I have decided that the time is ripe for me and my wife to move out of Jakarta. We have a piece of land in Ubud and since last October we’ve started building our home. After we move to Ubud later this year, I’ll try my best to keep my promise to write more. I have four novel projects which files are still in floppy disks (this indicates how long it has been kept aside). I truly hope that I can say no to all those invitations which require my presence in so many other places.

What is your favourite Indonesian dish?
Until ten years ago, my answer would be Minang cuisines, simply because I was raised in the West Sumatra capital of Padang. But, as I grew older, I switched to a healthier alternative. My favourite dishes are now from Minahasan cuisines in North Sulawesi, because it is mostly made of fish, cooked fresh a la minute and very tasty and aromatic. If asked to name one Minahasan dish I would die for, the answer is: garoupa woku blanga – stewed grouper in aromatic herbs and spices.

Can you share one of the most unforgettable moments during your culinary adventures in Indonesia, a dish or a restaurant?
During a taping for a TV show, we shot at a poor fishermen village in Madura. The old lady served simple rice with special sambal and fish dish. The taste was out of this world. At that time, she sold it at a meagre 3,000 rupiah (about 22 cents in USD). Then an old fisherman came with only 1,000 rupiah asking for a little rice. The lady gave him a full portion. Upon seeing it, my heart went to my throat.

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