We visited Hotel Ciputra Jakarta and spoke with the two culinary pillars, Executive Chef Otong Arif and Executive Pastry Chef Anis Kurniawan, to know what makes the hotel tick, food-wise.
What qualities do you think it takes to successfully run the culinary side of things in a hotel like Hotel Ciputra?
Chef Otong Arif (O): Holding multiple roles, we are required to know our team by heart—their strong points, capability, skill. We need to maintain a powerful team synergy to keep performing at our best, and to do that we have to recognise the differing potential of everyone in the team. Without the team we can do very little. Leadership and teamwork are the cornerstones of success, in my opinion. In the culinary world, the more you know, the more you realise how little you know. Therefore, an aptitude for learning is necessary.
Chef Anis Kurniawan (A): Patience. Being a chef is not an easy profession. We are faced with a number of dilemmas on a daily basis, starting from quality of the food, handling complaints, and operational issues, among other things. Also, creativity is pivotal. We’re not in the business of serving monotonous menus and keeping our distance. Chef Otong and I adopt a very hands-on approach. We constantly create new things and innovate in order to stay ahead of the curve and staying relevant on what’s trending out there.
Would you mind sharing the culinary identity of Hotel Ciputra Jakarta in your own words?
O: The hotel thrives on creating new trends and dynamically delivering what our guests are looking for. The menu is constantly tweaked. It is a living, breathing list that’s free of any static direction. For some time now we have been developing a Silk Road themed culinary offering centred on Mediterranean dishes in response to our recent influx of Middle Eastern guests.
A: This has been my third tenure at the hotel after a series of other occupations. Now, one of our signature pastries is the Chocolate Mousse. I created this particular menu way back when I joined the hotel for the first time, and the menu still exists today. In addition, looking at the market, we run five bakeries outside the hotel, and of course, we need to stay on top of new trends while keeping our signature selections to please customers. My focus is this: keeping a prime list of diversified menu that’s always up to par with our brand’s image and this also considers special needs like gluten-free, diabetic friendly menu, and so on.
How are you managing the current less-then-ideal situation regarding the outbreak?
O: In the effort of staying positive, we use this opportunity to internally consolidate our ‘back kitchen’. We look at things that can be streamlined or make more efficient. We are also constantly planning ahead for things to improve and make adjustments to execute our annual agenda. All for the sake of our loyal customers.
A: As this is a global situation, we have to adjust our approach. It’s business as usual but with a more conscious approach on wellness and healthy ingredients. Our guests’ well-being is our top priority, now even more than before. We are constantly improving our offerings to reflect this philosophy in the hopes of moving forward together as we optimistically look ahead for
a brighter future.