The Park Lane Jakarta restaurant’s demi chef de partie Guruh Nugraha, and commis Risky Hidayah made up the first ever Indonesian team to take part in the prestigious international Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon on January. how did they do that? The biennial cooking competition hosted 24 teams of professional chefs from Europe, Asia and America. To reach the finals, chefs have to prove their skills in national and regional qualifying competitions. “We’re very proud that two of our chefs are representing Indonesia for the very first time in this competition,” said Jon Richards, the general manager of Park Lane Jakarta, on January 20. The duo’s odyssey started in March 2009, when they competed in the Salon de Culinaire national qualifier in Jakarta. After winning the competition, Guruh and Risky participated in the Bocuse d’Or Asia Selection in Shanghai in March last year. They finished fourth after Malaysia, China and Japan, entitling them to a ticket to the final round in Lyon. The Indonesian team’s French coach, Stefu Santoso, who is also the executive chef of Park Lane Jakarta, has been guiding them for almost two years. “They call it the Olympics of the culinary world,” Stefu said. “In the final round, 24 teams from around the world will prepare two dishes using the same main ingredients for five and a half hours.” Gilles Marx, another coach who has just opened his own restaurant Amuz in Jakarta, agreed that the duo will have to manage the pressure in order to perform to the best of their ability. “There will be thousands of people watching and cheering for their favorite teams. The competition will also be aired live on TV.” Risky, who received the best commis in the Bocuse d’Or Asia Selection in China last year, has already come up with a strategy to handle the stress. “I’ll do what I did in Shanghai last year,” the 22-year-old said. “I’ll get up as early as I can, go to the place of the competition and do some jogging. I will feel fresh and energized afterwards.” During the competition, Risky will take care of the garnishes, while Guruh will prepare the main ingredients. “I want everything to be perfect,” 32-year-old Guruh said. “There can be no room for mistakes.” that's why they prepared a lot of things before the competitions. The tight time limit will make it necessary for Guruh and Risky to collaborate and work efficiently in the kitchen. For two weeks prior to their departure to France, the young chefs prepared in the kitchen of Rotaryana, a kitchen equipment distributor with a showroom in Menteng, Jakarta. “We’ve tried to create something that’s similar with what they will face in France,” said Karisma Kamdani, managing director of Rotaryana. As stipulated by the competition’s organizing committee, the main ingredients for the first dish on the menu have to include Scottish lamb kidney, shoulder and tongue, as well as sweetbread. “We couldn’t get any Scottish lamb in Jakarta,” Guruh said. “So, we practiced by using Australian lamb instead.” The Scottish lamb actually has a more fleshy and tender texture than its Australian counterpart but the duo believes that the two have enough similar flavors to be almost interchangeable. The chefs used the ingredients to create a visually striking dish with the French name saddle d’Agneau d’Ecosse, rotie, brochette d’Abats et epaule confite en petit pate chaud’, which translates to Scottish lamb saddle with kidney, sweetbread and tongue and a little lamb shoulder. The lamb saddle, cooked a la Mediterranean style, is rolled and encased in a layer of basil pesto and covered in a thin and crisp layer of pan-fried lamb saddle fat. On top of it lies a skewer of lamb tongue, sweetbread and kidney, which has been boiled and simmered in a concoction of coriander, Balinese long pepper and ras el hanout (Moroccan spice blend). “It took us two and a half hours just to prepare the skewer,” Guruh said. According to the competition specifications, the second dish has to include Scottish monkfish, crabs and langoustines (Norway lobster). The second menu, lotte d’Ecosse au foie gras de canard, sauce Americaine aux vieux balsamic, which translates to monkfish with duck foie gras, served with classic American sauce and a touch of aged balsamic vinegar, reflected the chef’s drive for excellence. The Scottish monkfish is not hard to procure in Jakarta. Yet, the simplicity of the ingredient called for high culinary creativity to impress the judges. Guruh combined the mild taste of the fish with the rich flavors of the foie gras in a plump roll and encased them in a layer of sweet and savory bacon. On the side, he also serves breaded langoustine blinis (Russian pancake) with a dollop of lemon cream and royal sevruga caviar. “It’s very important to keep the judges excited about what they taste,” Guruh said. A diamond-shaped jelly soup serves as a garnish. “I used a technique of molecular cuisine,” The carrot, broccoli and tomato soups are mixed with jelly to give them shape and then placed in a hot box to make a solid and juicy treat. “It’s very nice and tasty food today,” said Vindex Tengker, executive chef of Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta and president of the Association of Culinary Professionals. Vindex will represent Indonesia as one of the 24 international judges in the final round of the competition. “It’s not really about winning or losing,” he said. “It’s about doing your best at the international competition. Hopefully, they’ll make Indonesia very proud.” Indonesia placed the last on the competition, but like they said, it's not really about winning or losing. IMHO, being accepted in that kind of competition is more than enough to make Indonesia proud. at least they have experienced what only 24 countries in this world experienced. hope they can do better next time. News Source : The Jakarta Globe Photo Source : detik.com

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