Long story short, the Jakarta Culinary Festival 2012 has been giving me such a wonderful experience, enriching my food knowledge and contributed heaps of inspirations. I didn’t catch all the classes and demos as there were several events at the same time, but i guess you just can’t get all of it, can you?
So anyway, here are some of them. The masters, the inspirations, the dream catchers, the stars.
Entered the fourth day of Jakarta Culinary Festival 2012 the crowd getting thickened, not only because it was Sunday but also because it was the last day of the four days grand opening, which include series of cooking demos from many chefs. Didn’t want to miss a thing, I came early and registered for four cooking classes in a row.
The first cooking demo that day was by two Indonesian Chefs, Mr. William Wongso and Mr. Andrian Ishak, the owner of Namaaz Dining. The first mentioned is a senior chef specialized in Indonesian culinary and the second one is a young chef specialized in Molecular Gastronomy. That day the duo worked together cooked Indonesian food called Arsik Ikan, traditional cuisine from North Sumatra. Both has been discussed the dish for approximately three weeks, showed how they deliberately devised it. They cooked Arsik Ikan with different technique, at a different level yet each with unique different taste.
Like most people there, I wasn’t familiar with the dish. Might only well-known among North Sumatran and a small amount of people. Chef William Wongso also told us that the best Arsik Ikan can only be found in North Sumatra (maybe this is also why my Batak (North Sumatran) friend laughed at me when i told him that i want to make Arsik Ikan, lol).
Tasted the dish really enriched my experience on flavor. The sour from Buah Kincung and the strong spicy sensation from Andaliman, or what the Bataknese called Itir-Itir, hit right through my mouth once I bit them. What a nice surprise!
While Chef William Wongso started to cook all the herbs for the curry, Chef Andrian has been busy even before the cooking demo started. To this particular young talented chef we will put our focus on, but of course this doesn’t mean the other forgotten because Mr. William will eventually be the messenger of chef Andrian’s dish.
Chef Andrian started to explain each step to complete the dish. First he purified the fish stock by freezed a small container of stock in order to rest the other components and take only the clear part of the stock. One small container of fish stock results probably only one tablespoon of purified stock.
He also made a complicated garnish which looks like fish eggs. What interesting was that the center of this “fake” fish eggs is actually fish eggs.
The outer layer of the main dish made from fresh fish mixed with squid ink altogether with other ingredients. Normally it takes five hours in the making process to create it. This outer layer then filled with fresh fish then rolled it like making sushi. But before that, he powdered some sort of protein adhesive in order to perfectly attached the fish and the outer layer. This process takes about 24 hours. The results were amazingly beautiful, rolled fish fused with the outer layer perfectly.
For the garnish, he made fish chips. Made from fresh fish and chili puree and baked in a special oven that can reach a temperature as low as 35 degrees Celsius. As for the last process, he turned the Arsik Ikan curry that has been made previously by Chef William Wongso, into powder using liquid nitrogen in a machine that cost around Rp. 35.000.000 (USD 3500). This liquid nitrogen’s temperature is more than minus 100 degree Celsius. The aim is to give a melting powder sensation to the dish. Because after the curry become powder, it will be again meet the room temperature and melt slowly as the temperature goes higher.
What awed me the most was that this is actually an authentic Indonesian cuisine with its complexity of flavor yet served internationally. He takes our local cuisine to the next level.
Molecular gastronomy indeed covers complicated techniques, certain rare ingredients which is really expensive and can’t be purchased in a small amount of quantity, precise measurement, high creativity, long period of time in the making process, etc. I wouldn’t even complain if this kind of dish cost a fortune.
But the greatest thing from this session of cooking demo was that, ME…my friend… got a chance to try this exquisite dish! And it was truly a pleasure.
What excites epicurean the most other than the food itself? The answer would probably be… the masters! For me seeing those culinary masters is (maybe) like a basketball addict meets Michael Jordan, or informatic enginering meets Bill Gates. The vivid eyes, the overwhelming sensation, the admiration, the hunger for food knowledge, you name it and it’s all there.
Last Friday, I got a chance to see Chef Mario Batali Cooking Theater at the Jakarta Culinary Festival 2012 event, held at Jakarta Theater. Hosted by Indonesian Chef, Marinka and an opening cooking demo by chef Nooror S. Steppe from Thailand. She and her team cooked an authentic Thailand food and upgraded the look into a fancy five star dish.
At the begining it was rather confusing as the chefs (chef Marinka, Chef Nooror and one of her assistant) babling about lots of things. The Thai restaurant she have, the cooking class, the Thailand itself, the use of ingredients for our body, etc. Yet they forgotten the most important thing to do when you’re doing a cooking demo, that is to explain what they are doing step by step. Until one of the participants raised her hand and questioned whether we can get any explanation about what they are actually doing. Good thing someone reminded them to do so because afterwards, things started to run normally.
Chef Nooror and her team hosted by Chef Marinka
The show then moved to the main performance, that is a cooking theater by Mario Batali, an American chef specialized in Italian cuisine. Click here to look up his bio. Cooking theater is basically a series of cooking demo that consist several dishes by the chef continously.
The long awaited finally came, the one and only Mr. Mario Batali. He has, not only signature dish but also signature look. Ponytail and his orange crocs apparently become his trademark for quite sometimes. I like the fact that he is a humble celebrity chef and actually a funny guy.
In random order he cooked, Arrancine with Mascarpone and a Toasted Almond Ceci Salad, Fettuccine with Lobster alla Pantelleria, Scampi in a Fine Cornmeal Flour Crust with Sweet and Hot Chillies, Beef Braciole “Pinwheel Style”, Black Truffle Vinaigrette, Sauteed Wild Mushrooms with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Grandma’s Pine Nut and Ricotta Tart Torta Della Nonna. These are those beauties.
Other than the food and the how-to, his words regarding food and cooking are what i remembered the most. These are some of them; Italian food is nothing but simplicity, a grandma’s recipe, something that has been passed generation by generation. He also urged us to go to the market and find the best five or six best ingredients then figure out what will we cook with the ingredients rather than to think of what you want to cook than go to the market to buy the ingredients (of course this can only occur when you cook for yourself or small amount of people). And the last word from him that really hit me is, spend more on good ingredients now or spend it later on your health (by this he mean hospital bills), because bad food definitely bad for your health. And i couldn’t agree more.
The cooking theater was so fancy. The venue hall filled with rows of Acqua Panna and San Pellegrino and also a bar of mojitos with real vodka i guess, as it’s sponsored by Elyx. I’m a moslem i didn’t take any. They also had a pizza booth for participants, the two chefs on a pizza booth seemed like having endless shift once the crowd getting thickened. While the ballroom (or since it is actually a cinema, so i might as well call it the theater) decorated with round tables, a bottle of Acqua Panna and if you drink, then they will actually fill your glass with wine. As im wearing hijab, the waitress didn’t even bother to offer me any, LOL.
WOW! what a fun fat days i had last week. Full of good things which of course related to food. started with Mario Batali cooking theater, the whole event of Jakarta Culinary Festival 2012, the molecular gastronomy dish i had and last but not least, an awesome gift from a friend. I will post all the details as soon as possible.