REYNALDO DELUNA II
: When did you first discover your passion for cooking and how did you get into the culinary industry itself? Reynaldo: As a baby my mother wouldn’t let me watch cartoons or television. She would sit me in the kitchen and tell me to watch whatever she cooked. A Spanish mother and a Mexican father, so two different types of cuisine. As a baby I would go to the market with my mother and would choose the fresh fish and vegetables. She would bring everything to my nose and tell me to smell it. When I was three until about seven, I was always sitting in the kitchen, helping to peel garlic and do other things. At 16 I told my father that I wanted to be a chef, so he enrolled me in a culinary school.
The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa’s Executive Chef Reynaldo DELUNA II was born into a Spanish-Mexican family that’s really passionate about cooking and he trotted the globe to cook before finally calling Indonesia his home. Now, more than ever, he strives to give Indonesian ingredients the recognition they deserve.
In the morning I would go to school and at night I would go to the culinary school. I did that for two years, and I finished my culinary studies before I finished school. My first real break was at 16 when my father put me to work in our family’s side-business, which was a taco truck. So my first real kitchen experience ever was in a taco truck.
: What have been your biggest influences in cooking?
R: Being able to understand nutrition for the body. That has influenced me to learn that our bodies are just like a building, if you use very bad materials it’s going to be of a bad quality. Same with your body, if you get bad nutrition, you won’t have the power you need. I got into a lot of sports when I was younger – rock climbing, bouldering, slacklining, and I used to be a professional skateboarder. Athletes need the best nutrition to perform, and that inspired me to pay attention to the nutrition of the food I make.
: What countries has your career taken you to? Do you have any favourite? R: Before I moved to Indonesia, I had lived in China, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, France, Mexico, the US and Qatar. My favourite is Indonesia by far. Home is where I feel comfortable, and for the last five years it’s been Indonesia.
: What’s the best thing you’ve come across in your culinary career?
R: Learning about the history of gastronomy and ingredients in Indonesia, because if it weren’t for Indonesia, we wouldn’t have spices – black pepper, white pepper, nutmeg, all of these spices that the Dutch, Spanish, English, Portuguese came here for. If it weren’t for Indonesia’s gastronomy assets, the world wouldn’t have pepper, cloves and more – and where would we be without pepper? When people really think about it, they would actually realise that Indonesia has had the biggest impact on the world, gastronomically. A lot of the young generation of Indonesian chefs grab the tongs and meticulously plate their creations. What are you doing? Don’t waste your time with this. You come from the gold mine of ingredients of the world! And they don’t know, I ask them where kayu manis (cinnamon) comes from, they don’t know.
: Speaking of Indonesian food, do you have a favourite regional cuisine from Indonesia?
R: I’m really into Sumatran cuisine. To me there’s nothing better gastronomically than the bumbu. Nothing can compare to the 40 ingredients it takes to make a bumbu rendang. I really respect the bumbu, basically anything that can be made in an ulekan (mortar and pestle).
: Do you have any future goal in terms of cooking?
R: I just do what I like, and I like what I do. My goal would be to give the knowledge of all that I’ve ever learned about Indonesian ingredients to the young generation of chefs.
Pan Seared Snapper with Exotic Fruits Rujak
Klass & Brass