Executive Sous Chef
A versatile chef specialising in Asian cuisine, Chef Eno Suratno worked in kitchens all around the archipelago before expanding his horizons in Australia, the Middle East and Korea. Over the years, Chef Eno Suratno has worked his way up from a kitchen hand to the prestigious position of Executive Sous Chef of Sari Pan Pacific Jakarta.
E: So tell us, why did you become a chef? Was it always your passion?
Eno: To be honest, I never planned to be a chef, I actually studied engineering at Bandung Institute of Technology! Cooking was always something of a hobby for me. I remember being constantly surrounded by food while I was a child and helping my mother in the kitchen. After I graduated I was offered stints in a kitchen by my cousin. It was meant to be temporary but along the way I fell in love with the kitchen.
E: You’ve been in the industry for 20 years. Where has your career taken you to? Do you have a favourite?
E: I’ve been all around Indonesia in Kalimantan, Surabaya and Jakarta with Unilever, Accor Hotels group and JW Mariott Jakarta. I’ve also worked overseas in Jeddah, Australia and Seoul too. If I had to pick a place, I guess it would have to be Korea. I worked there while I was working for JW Marriott group and I learnt a lot from my time in Seoul.
E: Tell us a little bit about your cooking philosophy.
E: First and foremost in importance when cooking is the quality of ingredients. It’s important to know first-hand where your produce comes from and to source the best food products to support the kitchen. You can’t make good food with low quality ingredients.
E: I’ve heard that working in a kitchen is very challenging. In your opinion, what’s the most important quality for a chef to succeed?
E: There isn’t one single quality, you need a mix to be a successful chef. First and foremost, you need discipline as a chef; waking up at 4AM every day to prepare for the day is not for everyone. Secondly, you need to continually pick up new skills to stay updated, food trends move quickly nowadays. Finally, you need to be innovative and brave enough to try new things.
E: You’ve worked with a lot of famous chefs in your career. Who’s been the biggest influence?
E: In this respect, I’ve been very fortunate to have various mentors in my career. I learnt a lot from Chef Deden, executive chef of Park Lane and Chef Sukarna, who was Hotel Indonesia’s first executive chef. While at JW Mariott Jakarta, I was lucky to have learnt from Chef Daniel Kuser, Chef Gilles Mark and Chef Fransisco. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by so many great chefs in my career who I can share my experiences with and seek advice from.
E: What is it like being a chef? What part of your job do you love?
E: I always love learning about new techniques, preparation methods and trying new ingredients. Nowadays, it’s important for a chef to learn about presentation to keep up with the trends. I’m more than happy to accommodate!
E: Where do you get inspiration for your dishes?
E: I get inspiration when I’m watching food and travel shows, reading food magazines and browsing culinary websites. As you can see, I’m always doing research outside work too! My F&B director also pushes me to try new menu items for Restoran Fiesta.
E: When you get some time off from work, what do you do to unwind?
E: I try to keep fit by jogging. I also like outdoor activities, fishing at the lake behind my place. On rare occasions I’ll even catch a fish!
E: Do you also cook at home? What’s your favourite comfort food?
E: I know a lot of chefs don’t, but I do cook at home. I have very simple tastes I think, you might be disappointed with my answer. My go-to comfort food is Indonesian soup. Nothing beats a piping hot bowl of soto or sop buntut on a rainy day.
E: I hear Sari Pan Pacific Hotel has big plans this year for their dining outlets. Any exciting future plans you don’t mind sharing with us?
E: In the coming few months, I’m planning to add more dishes to Restoran Fiesta such as Korean and maybe kebabs too since that’s something that’s popular now. We want to add more variety to Restoran Fiesta, our goal is for us to have rotating seasonal items to showcase the best that Sari Pan Pacific Hotel has to offer for our guests.