Exclusive Interview With Executive Chef Felix Budisetiawan of The Dharmawangsa Jakarta
Eat Vacation sits down with Chef Felix Budisetiawan of The Dharmawangsa Jakarta to talk about his kitchen philosophy and elevating Indonesian cuisine.
The Dharmawangsa Jakarta’s Executive Chef Felix Budisetiawan finds himself surrounded with inspiration on the daily, from the people he work with to the green surroundings of his workplace. Every little thing at the Hotel provides him with a touch of motivation that puts a smile on his face and energy on his body: driving forces that are instrumental to his days.
“I am surrounded with number one people in the world. I am grateful, because from the moment I wake up until the day’s end, I get to meet and surround myself with great people, it’s that simple,” Chef Felix told Eat Vacation during a recent interview, alluding to his colleagues at The Dharmawangsa Jakarta.
It is apparent that Chef Felix loves what he does, and where he does it. He often gestures to the greenery surrounding the Hotel as a source of inspiration, explaining the proximity with trees and plants in the middle of a bustling metropolitan offers a dose of harmony that he said is important to any kitchen. Anyone who’s been to The Dharmawangsa Jakarta can attest to this aspect of the property, which is akin to a quiet and peaceful sanctuary.
Chef Felix, of course, boasts a long career in the culinary world. He’s worked in establishments across Bali, Surabaya, and Jakarta, and is known for elevating authentic Indonesian cuisine that not only remind Indonesians of home, but is crisp with elegance and quality of the highest standard.
Whenever he creates a new dish, the chef focuses on high quality, natural ingredients, as well as simplicity. At The Dharmawangsa Jakarta’s Sriwijaya Restaurant, for example, where the menu is about to undergo an enticing new revival, Chef Felix is bringing in dishes that strongly emphasises the cooking process to enable diners to truly taste the main ingredient.
“We want our guests to enjoy the seafood: when you taste the lobster, you will taste its sweetness. This is the same with meat as well: as simple as it gets. We want to accentuate the taste of the meat, with simple seasoning,” Chef Felix said.
At the core of his kitchen, Chef Felix added, is comfort and authentic Indonesian food. He aims to provide guests with a memorable dining experience that evoke strong memories from their younger days, with dishes that reminds them of the ones they used to have when they were a child, or perhaps during college.
Once, Chef Felix served Soto Betawi to one of his guests, who later told him that it brought back tasteful memories of the dish, which the guest’s mother used to make. Such exchanges are not uncommon, and Chef Felix hopes to keep bringing similar experiences to his guests.
“When I heard that, it brought tears to my eyes. He thanked me, and not long after he came by again asking for the same dish,” Chef Felix said.
As part of an effort to keep the dishes tasting authentic, his culinary team goes on trips to taste the meal in their original location, and pairs the experience with continued practice in the kitchen.
Chef Felix’s philosophy in the kitchen? “Simplicity. Less is more, and simple is the best,” he said.
When it comes to Indonesian food, many people are increasingly aware of the archipelago’s rich cuisine and flavours, but have yet to make it a “go-to” whenever they dine out.
With the latest menu offering at Sriwijaya Restaurant, Chef Felix hopes to attract the younger generation by offering a different touch, including mixing more traditional meals, such as urap, presenting it with more attraction but with the same authentic taste.
Everywhere else, Chef Felix makes it a point to get to know each and every one of his team members, while also continually reminding them the importance of being able to cook authentic Indonesian food that brings out the real taste of the archipelago.
“I want us to be a great team, and a great team means everyone is a great person. So what do you have to do? You have to love what you do, and your creations must be real so that people respect what you do. When you have great products, you become great, too,” Chef Felix told Eat Vacation.
Touching on his dreams and future, Chef Felix speaks of a field and small villas – surrounded with greeneries, plants and farm animals, where he’ll be inviting people to have a meal from his homegrown produce. Culinary, after all, is always going to be part of his future, he said.