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A Delicious Journey Through The Archipelago

Indonesia Expat | Indonesia’s largest expatriate readership

Where modernity and tradition collide in a bountiful and elegant display of unique Indonesian ingredients and regional cuisine.

The challenges with modern gastronomy and the chefs who defy the traditional methods and cuisines are that most often they forget the fundamental elements of restaurant dining. The food has to taste good; ingredients should be celebrated (with importance placed on perceived value); and the dining experience has to remain cohesive with a narrative to bring the audience on board a journey, whatever it maybe. Lose any of those elements, and you lose the essence of the dining experience, whether it is from a street stall or the highest echelons of fine dining.

As a critic, I’ve ridden the highs and lows of modernist cuisine. Nothing is more excruciating in this job than counting down the courses of a meal where there is little more than a chef’s ego presented on a plate. However, when it is done well, there is little comparison to the joy felt when a special connection is established between the chef’s masterful articulation of the cuisine and his guests. In some unique cases, a chef can change the course of an indigenous cuisine; much like what Juan Mari Arzak did for Basque/Spanish cookery or what Auguste Escoffier did for French cuisine.

Chef Ragil Imam Wibowo possesses a mastery of the unique Indonesian culinary heritage, and artfully conveys the complexity of Indonesian ingredients. His food is steeped in tradition, but is also elegantly adapted to the modern palate, for Indonesians as well as those who have a little less literacy in the vast diversity that is traditional Indonesian cuisine. That his creations can translate so well across different cultures is a testament to his talent in the kitchen.

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