NOW! Jakarta shared a table (and some Truffle Fritters) with Cédric Vongerichten at Vong Kitchen and talked about the restaurant’s future as well as his own exciting new endeavour.
Welcome back to Jakarta, Cédric! Do tell us what you’ve been up to.
Thank you. Always good to be back here. Yes, so we have plenty of things going on: the 4th July programme and Bastille Day, to name a few. And as always, this is a good chance to work on some ideas with the team here at Vong Kitchen.
I regularly send new recipes over and gauge diners’ response, and then whenever I’m here we get the chance to fine tune it and also work on new recipes that Luisa and her team here has come up with as well. We are always looking for opportunities to create trends and fresh innovations while keeping our customers here in mind.
Would you mind mentioning some of the signature dishes that have stayed since the opening?
We have many selections that our guests have really come to appreciate. To name a few, we have the Rice Cracker Crusted Tuna, Balinese Crispy Calamari, Truffle Pizza, Slow-Cooked Tasmanian Trout. There’s a lot more. Customer feedback is of paramount importance to the development of our menu and we aim to constantly evolve. I can also tell you we will be launching several new dishes as well that we’re very excited about, one of which being the Dried-Meat Sausage Pizza.
Tell us a bit about your first solo endeavour, Wayan. We understand it’s been the talk of town in New York!
Thank you. Yes, so Wayan is a French-Indonesian restaurant in New York which my wife and I opened four months ago. Although Indonesian cuisine is not yet as popular as Thai or Chinese food in New York it has been very interesting to see how people react and the feedback has been very positive. A lot of food critic came in and gave their thoughts.
In terms of the menu, I’m trying to introduce all the good things about Indonesian culinary and adapt it to the local palate as needed. We have the classics, such as Chicken Satay, Gado-gado, Sop Buntut, Ikan Jimbaran, Chicken Gulai, Rendang. Nasi Goreng and many more dishes.
Our theme this time around is Art & Culture. What’s your take on cooking as a form of art?
Cooking IS art. I’m very proud of cooking because it is one of the few jobs where you can be as creative as possible. Like art, you need to use all of your senses in order to appreciate cooking. In addition, cooking is also similar to art in terms of how you draw your inspiration from. You take your skill in the trade and build on it by including things that have influenced you, experience from your travels or significant moments in your life. You are free to play with all that, but at the same time it has to make sense.
Furthermore, the resulting dishes can be interpreted very differently from person to person. An example of this is how at Wayan, yes, people can taste a variety of cuisines they have never had before, but in the end they will taste my particular style—the artist’s style—and this consistency is what they often look for.