A Swedish chef by training, Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta’s Executive Chef Mathias Olsson has travelled far and wide, working across Europe in exotic places such as Greece and Cyprus as well as exploring Asia and the UAE in search of culinary inspirations. Amidst his ever-busy schedule, Exquisite Taste managed to squeeze in some time for a chat about his career as a chef and what drives him.
E: How long have you been with Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta, how did you end up here?
Mathias: I have been working at Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta for two years and eight months. Previously I worked with Kempinski Hotels group for the pre-opening of Kempinski Gold Coast City in Ghana. I have been in Asia for 12 years working in Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore before I was offered the opportunity to work here, which I took up gladly.
E: Your career as a chef has taken you to many different places. Do you have a favourite?
M: If I have to pick one, I would say that I love it here in Indonesia. One aspect that impresses me is the warmth and welcoming nature of the Jakarta people. It is surprising in such a modern and metropolitan city that people are so polite and helpful. Another aspect that I love about this country is the wealth of heritage and culture that is preserved. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Borobudur and Prambanan, they were truly majestic!
E: Why did you become a chef? Was it always your passion?
M: While I was growing up, my family owned a deli and I learnt to appreciate fine ingredients. We sold ducks, herring and all kinds of wonderful gourmet food. Given our close relationship with our customers, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit various hotel and restaurant kitchens. I guess it was a combination of these experiences that inspired me to become a chef. Of course, I’m passionate about my work, I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.
E: What’s your cooking philosophy?
M: First and foremost, cooking is about the ingredients. It is important to learn to discern and source the best ingredients that a place has to offer. Unfortunately, it is a problem here in Jakarta so we import a lot of the ingredients we have to use since I only want the very best for our guests. As to my cooking style, I believe in executing classic dishes with classic flavours while presenting them in a modern way.
E: In your opinion, what’s the most important quality for a chef?
M: It is important as a chef to understand your team as it is impossible to work alone in a kitchen. I have worked in many different places and I find it important to understand the local customs and culture so I can communicate well with my team. Of course it is also important to meet our guests’ expectations. I always go above and beyond to deliver what they want, that’s my goal as a chef.
E: Tell us about an important challenge you’ve faced in your career, and how you dealt with it.
M: I don’t think there’s a particular instance that I found challenging. As an executive chef, you face different challenges daily, from human resources to a delay by your suppliers. Over the years, I have learnt to think quickly on my feet and come up with innovative solutions to ensure I keep my customers happy. It seems to be working so far!
E: Where do you get inspiration for your dishes?
M: I like reading magazines and online publications to broaden my horizons. Aside from that I also catch up with my colleagues all over the world to exchange knowledge on what the food trends are like in different parts of the world.
E: What one dish would you recommend visitors to Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta to try?
M: Honestly speaking, we have so many choices that it is hard to pick one. It depends on the guests’ preferences. Guests who love German food have to try Paulaner Brahaus, which serves hearty classic German cuisine. For Japanese food, you can’t go wrong with our award-winning Japanese restaurant OKU. If they are looking for small bites and refreshing drinks, Kempi Deli is a winning choice.
E: What’s your favourite comfort food?
M: When I’m at home, my wife is the executive chef of our kitchen. She’s Swiss, so comfort food for us is kaseschnittet, which is a traditional sandwich with melted Swiss cheese, ham, pickles and topped with an egg.
E: What do you do away from work?
M: When I get a break from work, I like to spend quality time with my lovely family. I have a daughter who is six, so we usually go to recreational places like Ancol or Taman Mini.
E: If you weren’t a chef, what would you be working as now?
M: Good question, if I had the chance I guess I’d do something entirely different. Maybe a Moto GP driver or a football player like Zlatan Ibrahimovic!
E: Any words of advice for those looking to work in the F&B industry?
M: I would tell them upfront that it will be really tough work involving long hours and sacrifice. On the flip side, you will get to meet some really amazing people and explore new experiences not to mention the chance to travel all over the world. It is a great occupation with endless opportunities; I would encourage them to follow their passion.
Ballotine of Turkey Breast
TURKEY BALLOTINE & STUFFING
- 1 turkey
- 20g shallots, chopped
- 15g apple, chopped
- 10g celery, chopped
- ½ cup milk
- 200g white bread
- 5g sage
- salt & pepper
- Divide up turkey into four parts – breasts and legs. Reserve bones for the sauce.
- Sautée shallots, apple and celery in butter, add milk and bring to boil.
- Add white bread, seasonings, sage and stir together.
- Insert stuffing in turkey legs and breasts, roll in cling film and secure tightly.
- Steam for 10 minutes, remove cling film and pan fry in butter till skin is golden brown.
- turkey bones
- red wine
- chicken broth
- Add turkey bones, neck and giblets to pan.
- Pan fry till well browned.
- Deglaze pan with red wine and reduce.
- Add chicken broth, sage and thyme, simmer for two hours.
- Strain the jus and keep warm, season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Whisk in a spoon of butter before serving.
- potatoes, peeled
- duck fat
- Set potatoes in pan and toss to coat well in duck fat.
- Roast in oven at 180C for 20-25minutes till skin is crisp and sizzling
- Plate the turkey ballotine and roasted potatoes neatly on a serving plate.
- Drizzle the turkey jus over the turkey ballotine and roasted potatoes.
- Garnish with red cabbage mousseline.
Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta
Jalan M.H. Thamrin No.1,
Jakarta 10310, Indonesia
T: (+62) 2123583800