The post is written to fulfill the weekly writing challenge.
This week’s theme: “And Now For Something Completely Different”.
I have been posting pictures-only posts in this blog, and the challenge is to post something totally different. Thus this report of a magnificent event I attended a few days ago.
It felt good writing this after a very long time without proper blogging!
First of all, this is a Massive event, okay. And yes I wrote that with a capital M.
It’s not everyday you can taste world-caliber chefs’ cooking in one single place, and for that I have to thank Ismaya Group for celebrating the joy of world-class culinary right here in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Went there on the 3rd day of the Grand Opening Expo, which was held at the 6th of October 2012 in the Grand Indonesia mall.
I live in the outskirts of Jakarta and the event started at 10 am, so I actually woke up at 8 so I’d make it to the opening hour to avoid the horrific traffic (oh that rhymes). By the time I got there it was convenient – less crowd and more food.
Casually strolled to the Absolut Elyx bar to redeem the welcome drink – Elyx Chocolate Martini. ABSOLUT ELYX, ABSOLUT CHOCOLATE, ABSOLUT YUM. And yes I had it at 10 in the morning. Gave me the boost.
What I did not foresee was spotting the featured chefs lounging around the very spot I’m standing in, which is nearby the Pop-Up Restaurant.
Apparently I arrived before everything started and they were still prepping for the upcoming activities in the expo.
The first ones I saw were the epic duo from Junior Masterchef Australia, Isabella and Sofia Bliss. If you don’t watch the show… well you might as well look for links and watch them already. I’m telling you, those kids can cook! Isabella was the winner and Sofia was the 2nd runner-up.
After seconds of mental flailing and trying to pick up my jaw from the floor, I walked up to them and asked for a picture together. The girls were so lovely. Told them I’m a big fan and they were all smiles and said thanks. Please. I’m thanking them for what they’re doing.
So here’s me trying to act nonchalant while standing next to the amazing twins.
Not so long after they left, I turned around and (again, mentally) flailed even more.
Edward Kwon was right behind me taking pictures with the event staffs. Edward Kwon! For those who don’t know, Edward Kwon is a world-caliber chef from South Korea who had worked in Seoul and San Fransisco’s Ritz Carlton, W Hotel Seoul, and Burj Al-Arab Hotel. He’s currently running his own show, “Yes Chef” – you can watch it on LiTV if you have cable. There’s no effin’ way I’m not saving this moment, so I asked for a picture with him too.
Plot twist: when I was about to hand my phone away for someone else to take our pic, he suggested a selca (self-cam or self-capture, meaning taking a picture of yourself). Me being an Indonesian
– let’s just accept that we love taking pictures and being in one – I instantly turned my phone cam to the front lens and clicked away. My friend would kill me if she saw that picture but sorry man, I’m not sorry.
Took a walk around and saw these babies. Believe me when I say they tasted as good as they looked, if not better.
Also spotted this quote which describes my life’s inner battle.
Moving out to the first cooking demo I was invited to: Kevin Chung from W Hotel Bali. He previously worked at Melbourne’s Westin Hotel (and Longrain Sydney before that). With pan-Asian cuisine in his menu, voila!
I’ve never tried cooking fish before but after seeing this demo I might give it a try. The perks of watching a pro doing what he does best: he made it look easy.
And of course me and my friends took a picture with him.
We then moved on to another demo by Will Meyrick. By the time we got there he was done with his last dish so I decided to wait for his 2nd demo later that afternoon, but there he is with Sandra Djohan!
Another intro for non-maniacal people like me…
Will Meyrick is the guy behind Sarong and Mama San restaurants in Bali. This amazing guy has a Scottish heritage, an Aussie accent, and does not look Asian but damn he’s got love for Asian herbs and spices much more than I do. We’ll get back to him later when I finally got to taste his tuna tartare and watch him got messy with a not-to0-fancy ulekan (aka traditional stone mortar).
So I took a little walk around.
Here’s the coffee corner by Djournal Coffee.
And the hands-on cocktail class with Caryn & Karen.
Caryn & Karen from Barkode Singapore! One word: mixology. Caryn was the 2nd runner-up and Karen was in the 5th place in the Diageo World Class, which is a bartending competition …that lasts 6 months. Both had also been in the Mozaic Bali – one of the best restaurants in the world. No kidding.
Between the demo spots, this guy was spotted holding up a sign that says “Worst SPG Ever”.
Zack Petersen was there doing 10 push-ups for every 2nd-hand book you buy!
He’s doing this for “Drive Books, Not Cars” that raises awareness for 2 volunteer non-profit organisations: Sahabat Anak and Taman Bacaan Pelangi (“Rainbow Reading Gardens”). They establish children’s libraries in remote places where they don’t have access to good books and delivers informal education to street children in Jakarta.
He might be the worst SPG ever
due to the fact that he didn’t qualify as a Sales Promotion Girl in the first place, but he’s supporting one of the best causes ever :) so help him out! You can either volunteer or donate books, whether it’s an English novel or an Indonesian children book. You can contact them here on FB or here in Twitter.
I’m… scrounging for my old kiddy books if there’s any left. Or maybe raid my sis’s long-forgotten novels. Depends on which ones I’ll discover first. They’re gonna be in every Anomali Coffee shop in Jakarta in 2-week time if I’m not mistaken. If any of you’re interested and around the city by that time, don’t hesitate to contact them for information.
After watching Zack doing 20 push-ups in the middle of the crowd with us cheering him on, we went on to the next demo, which was held by Vindex Tengker.
Vindex Tengker was one of the judges in Masterchef Indonesia season 1. He had worked in Amandari Bali, Mallorca-Spain, and The Four Seasons in Bali, Los Angeles, and Jakarta. Joining The Dharmawangsa Jakarta in 2011 only added to his reputation.
Like all the pros in this event, he made that dish looked easy and pretty in no time at all. Tasted like a piece of Heaven. And I learnt a bit of fact about meat-cooking, how it’s best when it’s juicy (usually I have mine well-done, turns out it’s run out of the juice and it’s less appetizing that it should be).
After a short break, the crowd gathered even more for Isabella and Sofia’s sweets demo.
They made chocolate raviolis and cannolis from scratch. Their mum was also there to help them out with the ingredients and tools (not the cooking). I watched Junior Masterchef on cable so I wasn’t aware of how popular they are in the local channel, but seeing how the crowd reacted upon seeing these Bliss sisters… like whoa.
They literally had to make more raviolis and more cannoli because there were so many people raised their hands when asked who wants to try. But who doesn’t?
Which reminds me to that fact that I’m not gonna be in town for 10 days from the 16th onwards. That means no George Calombaris for me.
GEORGE CALOMBARIS. THE ONE PERSON THAT I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR SINCE I FIRST SAW THE JCF POSTER. AND I HAD TO BE SOMEWHERE ELSE WHILE HE CROSSED THE OCEAN TO BE IN JAKARTA.
Why, universe, why? Why do you have to put him on the 19th?
What, you need me to explain who George Calombaris is? Do me a favour and just go watch Masterchef Australia. Please. I promise you it’s the best series of Masterchef I’ve ever seen.
If Heston Blumenthal visited I might as well die from all the flailing.
Or if Jamie Oliver visited I might… die, too. Or Adriano Zumbo. Or Matt Moran. Or Donna Hay. Or Nigella Lawson. Or Gary Mehigan. Or Gordon Ramsay or Marco Pierre White or Anthony Bourdain or or or or or or or or *bzzt system error sorry*
After the twins and their sweets parade, Will Meyrick’s back on the stage with the one and only Sandra Djohan. I haven’t mentioned Sandra Djohan? She’s the woman behind Epilogue restaurant in South Jakarta that serves a fusion of traditional and new French flavours with an Indonesian twist!
This time they put up a salad with a lot of chillies mashed in the ulekan (“Blenders are for lazy people!”) but eventually gave up because it didn’t turn as blended as he wished :p The salad also contained jeruk Bali (I forgot the English name for it… pomelo? Is it even right?!) and salmon roe. So fresh. Apart from it he also made a tuna tartare, which is also refreshing in a way. I’m a fan of maguro sashimi anyway. Got his pic, his recipe, and his autograph on my guidebook!
The other things I saw were these.
This… is… Tugu Selamat Datang… or, roughly translated, “Welcome Monument”. The original piece perches on the top of the Bunderan HI (HI Roundabout) fountain and a symbol to welcome everyone to the city. Or the country.
Last but not least… a quote from Julia Child.
Due to a phone call telling me to go home for an emergency situation, I had to leave before trying William Wongso’s rendang or stopping by the merchandise booth or being trolled by the Turkish ice cream guy.
Hopefully I can go there again before the end of the month and try it out, but for now I’m pretty happy with the people I got to meet.
Jakarta Culinary Festival 2012, peeps.
Reserve a spot with your favourite chef while you can, ‘cos the show will go on until Halloween!
Until then ;)