Up close with chef Vin­dex Tengker

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IL­LUS­TRA­TION Chef-turned-air­line ex­ec­u­tive Vin­dex Tengker Three words to de­scribe my­self… Pro­fes­sional, hum­ble and chef. My best qual­ity… Calm and ra­tio­nal. And my worst… Not pa­tient enough. Culi­nary world for me is… An ex­cit­ing jour­ney of ex­pe­ri­ences. The first time I re­al­ized that I wanted to be a chef… I like eat­ing and my first ex­po­sure to the kitchen was with my grand­mother, who cooked dishes for the fam­ily at home. I didn’t dream of be­com­ing a chef but even­tu­ally I re­al­ized that I loved this pro­fes­sion when I took my first job as a chef in 1989. Food that re­minds me of my child­hood... Mostly Manado food, such as [chicken with spicy sauce],

[fish with rica spicy sauce], [kid­ney bean soup], etc. My first recipe that I cre­ated… [mut­ton with ru­jak spicy sauce], a dish in­spired by [ grilled chicken with spicy sauce] from Cen­tral Java. If I were a spice, I would be… I would be lemon­grass — a com­mon in­gre­di­ent with a pow­er­ful aroma that per­fumes ev­ery dish with its el­e­gant le­mony and fresh fla­vor. My great­est joy as a chef…. The smiles on our guests’ faces from en­joy­ing our cre­ations. The most thrilling thing about work­ing with an air­line… It is a mas­sive and chal­leng­ing task to work in an en­vi­ron­ment where we have to be con­sis­tent and main­tain the food’s hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion from its prepa­ra­tion un­til it is served to the pas­sen­gers on­board. The big­gest chal­lenge about being a vice pres­i­dent of an in-flight ser­vice… I have to cre­ate a con­cept for the air­line that suits our pas­sen­gers who have dif­fer­ent back­grounds and taste buds. I have to co­or­di­nate 60 do­mes­tic sta­tions and 18 in­ter­na­tional cater­ers around the globe to cre­ate a great din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on­board. Three things that I can­not live with­out… Fam­ily, my job as a chef and mu­sic. Mu­sic that I am cur­rently lis­ten­ing to… Easy-lis­ten­ing pop mu­sic, 70s, 80s and coun­try mu­sic. Movies that stay on my mind… and The most de­li­cious dish that I ever tasted… Sim­ple freshly grilled mar­i­nated at Fusimi Inari Tem­ple in Ja­pan. If I can travel through time and meet the 20-year-old me, I would… I would let him do what I have done. I would leave him alone as I would not be what I am to­day with­out all the ac­tions and de­ci­sions that I have made [in life]. The best ad­vice some­one gave me… Al­ways strive to be the best. My life motto… En­joy life and find your pas­sion. [eel] My ultimate ad­vice to home cooks… Take pride in what you are do­ing and al­ways be con­sis­tent in what you do. Suc­cess will come to you.

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