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Exclusive Interview with Chef I Made Kona from The Dharmawangsa Jakarta

The Eat Vacation team recently had the opportunity to talk with I Made Kona, the Executive Pastry Chef of The Dharmawangsa Jakarta. 

Born and raised in Jimbaran, Bali, Chef I Made Kona started his culinary career in 1986 when he was trained as an employee at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa Bali. With his passion in classic baking methods, Chef Kona would read a lot about it before then comparing it to the real industry and applying those methods in the industry. Chef Kona also mentioned that his environment – his seniors in the hotel industry, his study in Paris, the expatriate Chefs from France, Swiss, and German as well as media friends, really nurtured his knowledge and skills as they guide him further into the world of pastries. 

“I love all aspects of the pastries world and maximizes it. I really like Croissant with the perfect quality, for me it is the benchmark of quality pastry – the one that is crispy with delicious taste, good separation between the layers and uses good butter. During my time studying in Paris, I would travel all around the city to taste their croissant and learn the standard quality of it.”

Reflecting on his vast experience working in Bali, Jakarta, Singapore as well as the Maldives, the world of pastries are similar but different in their own way as they all use the same classic baking methods to uphold the international standard. The differing aspect is only the local culture or local sweets aspect that each chef or hotel infuse into the creation to give it its own characteristics. 

And embracing the fact that people would likely go back to what is familiar to their taste buds, Chef Kona, along with the team started to infuse local sweets as well as street snacks into their international creations at the Cake Shop of The Dharmawangsa Jakarta. The results are unique and one-of-a-kind cake creations that bring local delights to a whole new level. 

Ongol-Ongol cake, Klepon cake, Tape and Ketan Item Cheesecake, Es Puter cake as well as Lapis Coco that is made of Lapis Legit with coconut and pandan, are some examples of collaborative creations that Chef Kona had produced. And in an effort to highlight these creations, Chef Kona and the team at The Cake Shop would appoint one special cake as the cake of the month. 

For this month of July, Chef Kona appointed Banoffee Chocolate Cake, a banana-toffee chocolate cake, as the cake of the month. And for the month of August, the month of Indonesia’s Independence Day, Chef Kona will create a Red and White cheesecake that comprises red velvet cake with soursop to celebrate the joyous day. 

“The thing that keeps me motivated is my personal concept of I am happy to serve with a dedication to improve. Not only do I want to improve the human resources (my team) but also I want to dedicate myself into giving and delivering the best service and quality by only using the finest ingredients for the guests.” 

Chef Kona mentioned that his team comprises a few selected and talented people that have a specific skill in their own area of expertise and thus should be treated as such. Chef Kona appointed his team into several divisions that handles the Cake Shop, Banquet, A la Carte, Cookies & Chocolate, Production and lastly Bakery, to make sure each and everyone focuses on keeping their quality of work. 

Chef Kona also tells us that the Cake Shop has had the opportunity to collaborate with several brands to make an exclusive cake that people cannot find anywhere else. The cake will be designed and tailored only for this specific brand as Chef Kona will research and observe the brand, their company profile, colour palette, style and many more that will help make the cake uniquely their own. 

Aside from his work, another thing that Chef Kona is really passionate about is his painting. And he stated that his hobby complements his profession perfectly as he can transform and infuse his artful work into his pastries. 

“A good Pastry Chef has to have a sense of art. They need to draw out the artistic aspect of the pastry creations as it is itself a work of art in their own way and thus, is what made them stand out from any other culinary creations.”

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