Among the trades faring quite well during the Covid-19 pandemic is the food and beverages industry. Indonesia is also a country well-known for its rich and diverse culinary traditions worth raving and treasuring. On that note, under the third instalment of Asia's Most Influential directory, we present the inaugural Tastemaker List.
Focusing on the F&B industry and spanning a host of professionals from chefs, bartenders and restauranteurs, here are 30 influential individuals from different sectors of this broad discipline, pioneering innovations and working hard on the country's food security and renown.
1/30 Janti Brasali
Founder of Seriously Keto Indonesia and Singapore
With the keto diet programme gaining popularity among Indonesian people, Janti Brasali saw this as an opportunity to utilize her wisdom and cooking skills. The mother-of-three decided to build and develop her culinary business brand, Seriously Keto, to help people enjoy a low-carb lifestyle without sacrificing delicious flavour. “When I started the keto diet, I realized there were no options available for me when it came to confectionery products,” she said. “Then, I decided to use my culinary knowledge to make keto bakery that can be enjoyed by those who wanted to avoid consuming sugar and carbs without leaving the flavour behind."
Janti wants to make a difference for others and believes that the keto business could bring many health benefits. “We envision a community where everyone can embrace the health and happiness benefits from the keto lifestyle,” she said. “In doing so, we will create a model of success in the world of food, nutrition, and health—one fulfilled by Seriously Keto products across local and multinational food establishments, offering access to the keto lifestyle for all.”
2/30 Arnold Poernomo
Chef and restaurateur
Being a chef is not a coincidence for Chef Arnold Poernomo; he was born into the culinary world. His mother is a pastry chef, while his grandmother was a cook and restaurant owner. When he was 14 and living in Australia, he started working in the kitchen. Arnold first worked as a junior kitchen hand and then tried working other jobs such as a barista, waiter, and bartender before finally working as a cook. Astonishingly, he was never formally trained as a chef. Together with his brothers, Arnold opened KOI Dessert Bar in two locations around Sydney. He then branched out to Jakarta with the openings of Nest Grill and NOMZ; one of his businesses, Mangkokku, is run in collaboration with Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the son of President Joko Widodo. His rise to the ranks of celebrity chefs include an appearance as a guest judge on the second season of MasterChef Indonesia; he permanently became a jury on the next seasons up until today.
3/30 Max Mandias
Plant-based practitioner and co-founder of Burgreens and Green Rebel Foods
With the success of Burgreens, a plant-based restaurant in Jakarta circa 2013, Max Mandias decided to start green restaurant chains. He believes that adopting a sustainable vegetarian diet could protect the environment and the planet itself. “Besides its health benefits, adopting a vegan lifestyle is one of the best ways to reduce negative impact and preserve the sustainability of our planet,” he said. “Meat and dairy products cause much more environmental harm thanks to the negative emissions that produced dangerous substances that could damage the earth. As such, I decided to go green in the food industry as a plant-based diet will be key to the sustainability of our planet.”
With years of practical knowledge, Max shared some exciting insight about the growth of the Indonesian food and beverage industry during the pandemic. “The Covid-19 pandemic gives us the best time to research more about our culinary industry,” he said. “We are also seeing a shift in the food industry where people nowadays demand healthier foods choices instead of instant ones. With Green Rebel Foods, we are optimistic to learn about the market demand so that we could develop new and improve our products.”
4/30 Charles Toto
Chef and Founder of Papua Jungle Chef Community
Established in 2006, Charles Toto and the Papua Jungle Chef Community introduces local food diversity, reinvents local wisdom, and promotes sustainable living and environmental protection through Papuan cuisine to an audience in Indonesia and abroad. Toto also passes on the knowledge to the next generation by teaching them local recipes and hospitality skills. Plans he has in the pipeline range from publishing a book about the Papuan gastronomy world and its tasty recipes, opening a cooking school to learn from nature, marketing local-based food products across Indonesia, and many more.
5/30 Finna Huang
President Commissioner at Sekar Bumi, a subsidiary of Sekar Group
The name Finna, for most people in Indonesia, instantly brings to mind the iconic shrimp crackers, sambals and other foods, well known for their superior quality and taste; many have not yet heard about the namesake behind this famous brand of products from the Sekar Group. Finna Huang is the daughter of Harry Susilo, who founded the group in 1966. An avid food lover herself, she has been heavily involved in its frozen food division, Sekar Bumi, for the past few years. Finna is also busy in the healthcare sector, with the well-established JWCC clinic that she founded is now expanding into hospitals. Modelled on the concept of being "happy hospitals", each one will have a distinct boutique hotel-style feel with homey and comfortable atmospheres. Food will be one of the key focuses of the services; the hospitals will have celebrity chefs planning the menus and collaborations with renowned restauranteurs preparing meals, such as confinement food.
6/30 Trisna Albona
Bartender and Corporate Beverage Manager at Syah Establishment
Trisna Albona is one of the most well-known female bartenders, or mixologists, in Indonesia. However, she never really planned on being a bartender, much less to rank top among the male-dominated industry. No matter who the bartender is, Bona said that mutual respect must be the rule at the bar. “When you drink, be a responsible drinker; mind your attitude and respect the bartenders," she said. "As bartenders, we also have this responsibility to educate our guests.” During her study of hospitality back in college, Bona got to know the world of mixology and started working as a bartender. But what is the difference between a bartender and a mixologist?
“I think it was initially the same,” she said. “However, I see mixologists as beverage specialists; they get to explore and create new beverage creations.” With two decades of experience, Bona has become part of the bartending industry evolution here, and she remains optimistic regarding how the F&B scene would adapt post-pandemic. “For instance, we serve cocktails-to-go during the pandemic and the demand is there. So, I think the industry is going to be fine.”
7/30 Ivan Arie
Chairman and co-founder of TaniHub
Ivan Arie Sustiawan is the co-founder of TaniHub Group, which operates the e-commerce platform TaniHub, peer-to-peer lending platform TaniFund, and supply-chain management TaniSupply. TaniHub also provides education through 1,000 farmer groups for its growing number of over 46,000 farmers. During the Covid-19 outbreak last year, the TaniHub application got a 100 per cent uptick in new consumers. Sales of fresh produce, as well as groceries, rocketed up to 639 per cent since most people are staying at home.
8/30 William Wongso
Restaurateur, author and TV Chef
Dubbed as the "rendang diplomat", it was of no surprise that Gordon Ramsay had tapped William Wongso to be his mentor on the second season of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted. The British chef admitted the wealth of experience Wongso had, which could teach him and anyone else to be a better chef. Indeed Wongso has mentored many of Indonesia's best chefs over more than five decades of career in the culinary industry. It was more impressive that he learned cooking by observing restaurant cooks and street-side vendors back when his dad used to take Wongso to travel around, and even until today as the co-founder of Aku Cinta Makanan Indonesia (ACMI). ACMI aims to introduce and spread the love for Indonesian food globally, and he believes Indonesia has many unique herbs and dishes for the world to taste. "When I serve my country's food to other nations, I always use 100 per cent of our herbs because they bring out the true Indonesian taste." He also emphasizes the importance of real-life experience to make anyone a great chef, by going through trial and errors and tasting the food with all of the human's senses. In the future, Wongso plans to collaborate with more famous chefs globally to show the beauty of Indonesia.
9/30 Mikael Jasin
Barista and founder, So So Good Coffee Company
What started as a simple, loving gesture by Mikael Jasin's mum to flavour his milk with a little coffee, as he could not consume chocolate due to asthma, turned out to foretell his future. Jasin was named the winner of the Indonesian Barista Championship in 2019 and 2020 and ranked 4th in the 2019 World Barista Champion in Boston.
However, simply being a barista or opening a cafe is not what he had in mind. Jasin is the founder of So So Good Coffee company, which provides cafe consultancy and barista training alongside post-harvest processing directly with coffee farmers across Indonesia. The company aims to consistently develop the quality of coffee varieties in the country, which, in turn, can also help to improve the livelihood of its farmer partners.
10/30 Santhi Serad
Chef and food writer
Born and raised in a food-loving family, Santhi Serad had been introduced to Indonesian food from a young age through visits to wet markets with her mum. They would cook together afterwards, including many local menus from Malang and Banyuwangi in the East Java province where her parents originated. Today, Serad passes on her knowledge and love for Indonesian cuisine at Ramu Rasa Cooking Studio and Coffee Shop.
Together with co-founder Ilham Habibie, she also built Bumi Herbal as a place to conserve herbs and spices gathered from all around the archipelago. All her knowledge has also been published in a book, Leaf it to Tea, which won second place in the tea category of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2019. To further promote these culinary stories, Serad co-founded the Aku Cinta Makanan Indonesia community with fellow food-lovers, William Wongso and the late Bondan Winarno.
11/30 Marius and Julia Veronica Tjenderasa
Food bloggers, AnakJajan
Among the early bloggers in Indonesia, Marius and Julia Veronica Tjenderasa started AnakJajan as a diary to share their love of good food. Since then, the award-winning blog has grown to include food reviews and stories about their world travels and lifestyle in the city. The power couple, Marius often behind the camera and Julia as the model, has been tapped by various partners from airlines to restaurants and online marketplaces to share honest reviews and content engagement.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the two expanded their content to home cooking, daily-life experiences and home decorating of their first house. With colourful photos and engaging language, it is no surprise that AnakJajan's Instagram has amassed more than 430,000 followers.
12/30 Hedi Rusdian and Gianjar Saribanon
Content creators, BBQ Mountain Boys
Jeweller Hedi Rusdian and metalsmith Gianjar Saribanon started BBQ Mountain Boys in 2017. The duo is based in Saux coffee farm with a creative space set in the middle of the lush pine forest of the Lembang area just outside Bandung. At a glance, from their aesthetically pleasing videos on YouTube and Instagram, their activities at the cabin highlight the beauty of an outdoor-centred lifestyle.
The childhood friends invite their viewers and guests to tag along as they grill and barbecue, harvest coffee, create hydroponic systems and even partake in a flag-raising ceremony in the forest. Beneath it all, Rusdian and Saribanon are showing youth another side of farming, while educating, to help boost the number of next-generation farmers. Their content also encourages coffee farmers to learn more about creating quality crops, embrace fair trade and push local brands to flourish.
13/30 Karen Carlotta
Chef and owner, Union Group, Izakaya Kai AMKC Atelier
This talented pastry chef stole the spotlight as second in command at a bakery in Singapore when she was featured in the Straits Times. Carlotta started her culinary journey in 2006 as an intern at the prestigious Swisshotel The Stamford in Singapore. In 2009, together with husband Adhika Maxi and other co-founders, she established UNION Restaurant in Jakarta, which today has grown to become a group with eight other equally famous eateries.
In 2019 Union Brasserie, Baker & Bar ranked at number 39 on Asia's 50 Best Bars list. Not long after, Carlotta and her husband catered a private dining experience where Barack Obama was one of the guests. Today, Carlotta is renowned for her skill at turning traditional Indonesian desserts into pastries, with famous iterations including Pisang Ijo and Martabak cakes, not to mention her legendary Red Velvet cake. Carlotta was also a guest judge on Master Chef Indonesia in 2019 and 2020. Her Instagram account has more than 110,000 followers and highlights notable collaborations with big brands such as Indomilk.
14/30 Renatta Moeloek
Chef and restaurateur
Renatta Moeloek of MasterChef fame may be the youngest of the show's three mainstay judges between season 5 and the latest season, but she easily ranks among the top in the next generation of young Indonesian celebrity chefs. An alumnus of Le Cordon Bleu Paris, Moeloek graduated with Superior Certificates in its Cuisine and Pastry diploma programmes.
She went on to specialise in French cooking by working at the famed Garance in Saint Dominique. Never forgetting her roots, Moeloek introduced Indonesian food on many occasions while abroad before returning home in 2018 where she opened a private dining service, Ruma Dining, and a health-conscious restaurant, Fedwell. She also guest chefs and consults at various establishments.
15/30 Will Goldfarb
Will Goldfarb began his pastry journey at now-defunct three-Michelin-starred El Bulli, though he suffered rejection before finally finding a place there. His tumultuous start in the pastry world continued when the American chef returned to New York only to have his desserts panned by food critics. That was until he opened Room4Dessert in 2006, which received good reviews from the outset. However, a partnership conflict forced the restaurant’s closure just a year later.
Goldfarb did, however, manage to win some prestigious awards before packing up once again, including a nomination for a James Beard Foundation Award. Landing in Bali, Goldfarb worked at Ku De Ta and Potato Head before opening Room4Dessert in Ubud. As a dessert-only restaurant with seasonal-themed tasting courses, each unique locally sourced menu item comes from Goldfarb and the team's experience and experiments. With emphasis on quality ingredients, guests get a tour of The Manor Born, the restaurant's mini apothecary garden, where they can see and learn about the ingredients that go into the heavenly creations that wind up on their plates.
16/30 Axton Salim
Director, PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk
Thanks to easy access to the internet and widespread distribution in most parts of the world, the name and taste of Indomie instant noodles are swiftly becoming globally recognisable. However, many might not know about Indonesia, where it originates; Indofood, its producer; or even Axton Salim, the third generation of its umbrella conglomerate, Salim Group.
Salim is actively involved in developing and promoting the group's products to make them more relatable to different markets and demographics, such as creating 32 regional Indomie flavours to represent each province's most iconic dish. He also heads up the beverages and dairy divisions under the consumer branded products section of Salim Group and has various other roles in its subsidiary companies. Besides his works in the family business, Salim also holds key positions at Gallant Venture, Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Business Advisory Group, Art Photography Centre and Codigo.
17/30 Sisca Soewitomo
Chef, TV personality, cookbook author
Sisca Soewitomo has been an iconic television personality since the 1990s, garnering fame from Indonesian television cooking programme Aroma. After graduating with a hospitality diploma from the Trisakti School of Tourism, she earned a scholarship to the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan. Soewitomo has written 150 cookbooks about Indonesian food, including the best-selling Step by Step recipe book series, and is listed at the Museum of Records Indonesia as "Pengarang Buku Resep Masakan Terbanyak" for her productivity.
For 50 years, Soewitomo has taught millions of home cooks and chefs alike how to create tasty, authentic Indonesian dishes with her simple steps. She is often dubbed the “Queen of the Indonesian culinary arts” in honour of her impactful contribution to the industry. Although Aroma has ended, Soewitomo still actively cooks at events and other television cooking shows, including MasterChef Indonesia.
18/30 Ade Putri Paramadita
Food journalism is one thing, but food storytelling is another. Ade Putri Paramadita, or Aput, uses storytelling as a medium. Being a food storyteller requires sophisticated taste buds, but also superior writing, public speaking, photography and video editing skills. She is part of two culinary communities, which encourage her to educate younger generations, Aku Cinta Makanan Indonesia and Beergembira.
19/30 Hans Danial
Hans Danial originally started as an intern at one of Indonesia’s top teen magazines, where, in the last week of his internship, he set up eatandtreats.blogspot.com, which has become one of the most-popular food blogs in Jakarta. He regularly posts restaurant reviews and uploads gorgeous photographs of food on both his blog and social media. He has shot editorial work and ad campaigns for numerous magazines and clients such as Starbucks, BASED and Koko Cici Jakarta, among others.
20/30 Juna Rorimpadey
Having had a tough time as an adolescent, Chef Juna Rorimpadey went to the US to train to become a pilot after dropping out of university in Jakarta. In the middle of trying to get his commercial license, his school went bankrupt. He started working in a sushi restaurant, and its main chef took him on as a student and trained him hard. Rorimpadey became an executive chef and then moved to a French restaurant to learn about French cuisine. Returning to Indonesia, Rorimpadey became executive chef at Jack Rabbit restaurant and a judge on MasterChef Indonesia.
21/30 Yoshua Tanu
Co-founder, Common Grounds, St. Ali, Sensory Lab and Jago
Yoshua Tanu is one of Indonesia's best baristas with a wealth of business experience coffee industry belying his young age. With a passion for the craft itself, he joined competitions such as Indonesia Barista and the World Barista Championships, to learn from the best.
Graduating from the University of California, Davis, with a degree in managerial economics, he has used this knowledge to develop the local coffee scene. First, he worked as the director of PT Republik Kopi Indonesia, a company specialising in training for hotels and cafes in collaboration with local coffee farmers to improve specialities. He went on to co-found Common Grounds, St. Ali and Sensory Lab to explore and expand the myriad of coffee possibilities, especially among the younger generation. Jago Coffee is his latest venture, which combines affordable, high-quality coffee delivery through Jago Apps—a timely move during the pandemic that saw sales leap 350 per cent last year.
22/30 Farah Quinn
Presenter and celebrity chef Farah Quinn has inspired many young people to be brave enough to follow their passions, especially in the culinary industry. During the 1998 recession, she took a degree in pastry arts at Pennsylvania Culinary Institute while working as a waitress to finance her studies.
Her life turned around when she created Indonesian speciality desserts for the First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush. Quinn once co-owned Camus restaurant in California before splitting with then-husband, Carson Quinn, and returning home with her son. She restarted her career as a host of various culinary programmes in Indonesia and made regular international appearances on the Asian Food Channel. She also launched her own bakery, Cookie Love by Farah Quinn.
23/30 Yozua and Dewi Makes
Founders, Plataran Group
Yozua and Dewi Makes are the founders of Plataran, an Indonesian hospitality group. Yozua is also a Corporate Finance Lawyer with more than 30 years of experience in Corporate Finance, Mergers & Acquisitions, Capital Markets and Investment Law. In 2009 Yozua and Dewi converted their private villa in Canggu Bali into a small boutique villa resort, which became the embryo of Plataran.
Today, Plataran Group has opened properties in exotic locations from Labuan Bajo to Borobudur, and is acknowledged as a true Icon of Indonesia in both domestic and international markets. The group has won many prestigious awards, including Sustainable Destinations Top 100 by Green Destination Organization, World Best Luxury Resort and Spa, and Gold Winner in Resort Category by Real Estate Indonesia Excellence Awards (Indonesian Real Estate Association).
24/30 Gilles Marx
Chef Founder and Operations Director, AMUZ Gourmet Group
France-born culinary innovator Gilles Marx has brought a taste of his home country to the heart of Jakarta. He discovered his natural talents early on, and his passion took him to work in many Michelin-starred restaurants in Alsace, Lyon, Burgundy and Paris. After heading restaurants in Australia and South East Asia, he moved to Indonesia and opened Amuz in the central business district. Following the success of Amuz, Gilles then expanded the business into AMUZ Gourmet Group with APREZ Catering and Cafe, serving small- to medium-sized functions, and Artoz Bar and Lounge, one of Jakarta's classiest nightspots.
25/30 Degan Septoadji
Chef-Entrepreneur and MasterChef Indonesia Judge
Most famous for his role as one of the judges on seasons 2 and 3 of MasterChef Indonesia, chef Degan Septoadji has been an active Indonesian culinary ambassador both locally and globally. Septoadji developed his culinary skills and career in Germany, a place he lived in from childhood until his early twenties, which equipped him with a mastery of European cuisines.
Keen to connect with his roots, Septoadji then worked in Bangkok, Bali, and many other places around Indonesia to master Asian cuisine. Today, he runs a catering business, Nasi Bagoes by Chef Degan, and regularly tours Europe to introduce Indonesian food and culture there; he was the first Indonesian chef to guest-teach at Le Cordon Bleu Paris.
26/30 Chris Salans
American-born and trained at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, chef Chris Salans went through further training at several acclaimed restaurants, including Michelin-starred Lucas Carton in La Madeleine, Paris. His passion for real Asian flavours, especially Indonesian cuisine and its colourful range of spices, led him to Bali where he opened Mozaic Gastronomique and Spice by Chris Salans, which has won a number of awards. He was appointed to the Association des Maîtres Cuisiniers de France (Association of the Master Chefs of France) in 2019 and granted the Order of Agricultural Merit by the government of France in 2020.
27/30 Hendry Sedjahtera
Chef-owner, Citrus Lee
Hendry Sedjahtera was raised in Malang, Indonesia, where he worked at his family's Chinese restaurant, Dragon Phoenix. He later moved to Boston where he earned a degree in Finance minoring in Accounting and MIS from Northeastern University, before working as an accountant in Boston for five years.
He went on to spend two years in Paris studying French Cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu and worked under famous French Chef Guy Savoy at one-Michelin-starred Le Chiberta Restaurant. In 2009, Sedjahtera opened Citrus Lee in Surabaya, which has become renowned for its innovative French-Asian cuisine.
28/30 Susanna Kusnowo
Managing Director, Les Amis Indonesia
Behind the smiling face of Susanna Kusnowo is a wealth of experience related to the capital city's F&B scene from her days as the director of Pioneerindo Gourmet International. The company has pioneered franchising fast-food businesses in Indonesia since 1983, with crowd favourites such as California Fried Chicken, Cal Donat, and Sapo Oriental. Koesnowo, a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, then moved to head up Les Amis Indonesia as Managing Director, opening franchises of Akira Back Restaurant, NamNam Noodle Bar, Shabu Shabu Gen, Enmaru and Gaia by Oso Ristorante in Jakarta. She also developed concepts for Momozen, Bae and Altitude Grill to add to the roster of fine-dining restaurants in Jakarta.
29/30 Riki Kono Basmeleh
CEO, Omiyage Inc. Indonesia
Riki Kono Basmeleh is the mind behind a recent internet hit where soft, melty cheesecake meets fragrant, rich durian flavours. The beloved cheesecake is available under Omiyage Inc. Indonesia, a company specialising in baked-good souvenirs, in partnership with Japanese brand Dore by LeTAO.
Growing up as a Japanese-Indonesian, Basmeleh started his company to focus on sweet treats and desserts. With the overarching idea to take fine Japanese artistry to marry Indonesian hospitality, he has expanded his business to eatery concepts such as The Pancake Co. by DORÉ.
30/30 Kenny Soetomo
Entrepreneur and bartender
“From zero to hero” is a quote that best describes the life journey of Kenny Soetomo, a world-class bartender who started at the bottom. Soetomo found his passion for mixology when he applied to be a part-time bartender in Australia. Returning to Indonesia, he first joined Potato Head as group bar trainer manager and later DaVinci Gourmet Syrups.
He was the winner of the 2014 Australian National Suntory Cocktail Connoisseur and earned second place in the 2016 World-Class Indonesia Cocktail Competition. As Soetomo gained in reputation and mastery over the years, he has opened several liquor businesses, including speakeasy Spill and Still and artisanal drinks brand Bootlegger.
Check out the full list of 30 leaders in the food and beverages industry around Asia under the collective of Asia's Most Influential directory here.