Up close with chef Vindex Tengker
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.