Indonesia's Wongso unearths culinary treasures - Tourism Indonesia


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Indonesia's Wongso unearths culinary treasures

Whether he's serving slow-cooked chicken or marinated soybean, Indonesian chef William Wongso sees spicing up his dishes with unusual local ingredients as key to his mission to promote the archipelago's diverse cuisine.

Choosing recipes from his grandmother's time, such as tempeh, or soybean cake, fermented in garlic and salt until it turns black, the 61-year-old chef introduces new twists to the old on his popular television cooking show "Cooking Adventure with William Wongso".

The owner of three top restaurants, such as the showpiece, appointment-only, William's Kafe Artistik in Jakarta, where businessmen woo clients with foie gras egg curd and tiny chocolate pianos, Wongso recently opened an innovative "infused noodle" shop, Mie Item, which sells black squid ink noodles.

Here he talks to Reuters Life! about Indonesia's varied cuisine and why specialities from across the archipelago deserve a greater appreciation.

Q: You've said that enlightening foreigners about the diversity of flavours in Indonesian cooking is one of your long-term goals. Do you think visitors to Indonesia typically get a good introduction to Indonesia cuisine?

A: "All they know is nasi goreng (fried rice), satay and maybe rendang (slow-cooked beef curry). With 17,000 islands and 600 dialects, there's so much more."


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