Celebrating Flavors
    Category: Forbes Life By : Shintya Felicitas Read : 210 Date : Tuesday, May 01, 2018 - 15:28:49

    Courtesy Of Vong Kitchen

    Frenchman Jean-Georges Vongerichten, 61, is one of the world’s most successful celebrity chefs. He runs a chain of 36 restaurants across the world, including a two Michelin star restaurant in New York. In early April, he opened his first outlet in Indonesia, Vong Kitchen, a casual dining restaurant on the ground floor of the Alila Hotel SCBD, Jakarta. Joining him was his son Cedric Vongerichten, 36, also a chef and married to an Indonesian. Forbes Indonesia was among a small group of selected media that had a chance to interview the father-and-son duo in the restaurant, including a tour of the kitchen and a chance to sample his popular truffle pizza and a homemade chili sauce.

    Forbes Indonesia (FI): How did you become one of the world’s most celebrated chefs?

    Jean-Georges Vongerichten (JGV):  When I was a child, my family had a coal distribution business with dozens of employees, and my mother cooked for them every day. My interest to become a chef had grown ever since. I started in France and Germany, and in 1980 I got an opportunity to work in Bangkok. After that, I went all over the world from Singapore to Portugal, Japan to London, until I settled in New York. I established my first restaurant JoJo in 1991 in New York. Now, we have 36 restaurants. In New York we own 10 of them, and the rest are licensed.

    FI: How about you Cedric, how did you decide to follow in your father’s footsteps?

    Cedric Vongerichten (CV): I grew up following my father everywhere. Since I was a kid, my playground was basically in the kitchen. For me, it’s already in my brain that this is what I want to do. Then I moved to France and I went to cooking school. My father encouraged me to travel, because it’s important to open your mind. My father is like, “Ok, you want to be a chef? Start over there.” First, I worked for a different chef; it’s good to see a different technique. Then I came back to him. I went to Bahamas to open a restaurant there, stayed in Hong Kong, London, and came back to New York. Now we are managing the restaurants together.

    FI: You are known for combining French cuisine with an Asian touch. How did it begin?

    JGV: In Bangkok, I was cooking French food in the restaurant but, in the meantime, I ate Thai food three times a day because I wanted to know everything about the food. I love everything about Asian food, from ginger to lemongrass, probably most the chili. After all the spices, French food tastes pretty flat. I think when you mix both, it gives a beautiful result. I think French and Asian food are meant to be together.

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