Indonesian desserts going international

The Jakarta Post/ANN

Salon Culinaire, a program of the Food and Hotel Exhibition 2017, has in the last few years become an arena for chefs and the food industry in Indonesia and neighboring countries to showcase their techniques and skills in preparing, processing and presenting various dishes. The competitive event was held in Jakarta recently.

To increase the sharing of knowledge with contestants, Salon Culinaire also invited international judges qualified by the World Association of Chef Societies (WACS), who will give input and assess the participants to improve their quality.

This year’s program, intended to bring Indonesian cooking to the world level, presented a culinary class and organised a contest concerning international cuisine. One of the interesting categories in the competition is called “dessert plated Indonesian flavor.”

“The dessert is attractive because the participants reconstructed Indonesian cakes into unique forms,” the president of the Association of Culinary Professionals, Stefu Santoso, said.

As many as 15 groups comprising chefs from famous hotels and students of hotelier colleges joined the competition. The students looked thrilled and confident despite having to compete against experienced chefs. “They regard this arena as a tryout opportunity to enhance their creativity and boost their courage to compete,” Stefu said.

Such a forum would enable the students to receive feedback to improve their creations from the respected culinary luminaries who performed as the judges. It’s this input that the student entrants were expecting, Stefu said.

All of the 15 sets of Indonesian dessert courses turned out to be appealing. During the judging time, the plates only had the names of the dishes and ingredients specified. The contestants’ names were not included to uphold fairness.

The participants gave new and modern interpretations to various Indonesian desserts. Lapis legit, also called spekkoek, was mostly served by the competitors. First introduced by the Dutch during the colonial period, the multi-layered cake was named one of CNN’s favorite national treats. Another signature dessert that got a new look was es campur (fruit served with shaved ice and syrup) and putu mayang (noodle-shaped cake).

Diverse types of Indonesian chocolate were attractively adorned and separately served or combined with other cakes. Some entrants also explored Indonesian fruits, with one of them presenting Malang’s apple mousse. Others converted kolak pisang (bananas stewed in coconut milk) into a kind of mille-feuille, a typical French dessert with layers of pastry. The layers were filled with coconut mousse and caramel-covered bananas decorated their top, thus retaining the original kolak flavor. Tofu was also among the uniquely processed desserts.

Apart from taste, one of the major evaluation criteria was presentation, which pushed the participants to concoct not only appetiZing desserts but also the ones pleasing to the eye. Stefu said creativity in plating should still be upgraded by young and senior chefs as well as students.

“The judges acknowledged there should be no doubt about the flavor of Indonesian cuisine,” he said.

“However, the plating of many dishes is yet to be appropriately handled so as to be accepted at hotels or competitions of international standards. Attractive plating can raise the value of the relevant dishes — both as culinary and artistic works.”