Chef Luca Cappellato went through an interesting trajectory during his culinary career, from working for a catering service chain in his home country of Italy, to moving to the tourist haven of Macau, to working in Michelin star establishment. Now part of the ever-growing team at Dining Room of Park Hyatt Jakarta, he’s responsible for creating authentic Italian offerings. Chef Luca took time to sit with us and take us through his notable journey.
E: Can you tell us about your career path so far? What attracted you to the culinary industry in the first place?
A: When I was a kid, I used to watch my grandparents cooking and help them do some basic preparation. This is what attracted me to the kitchen at the beginning. After middle school, I chose to join a culinary high school, which then started my journey in Milan right after high school. I had been working in a few hotels as a commis chef until I had the opportunity to move to different parts in Asia – from Hong Kong to Macau and, finally, Indonesia.
E: Do you remember the first ever dish that you learned to make, and can you still make it well now?
A: The first dish I ever learned was the halibut with pizzaiola sauce. It was my favourite dish, introduced for the first time by the original creators, my grandparents. The dish simply reminds me of my childhood, and I bring it to every place I work. If you’re wondering, yes, it is now in the à la carte menu of Dining Room.
E: You began working in the catering business before entering fine dining and five-star hospitality. What is the biggest difference between both types of F&B businesses?
A: To be honest, there are not many differences between these businesses – it’s all about hospitality. I learned to respect the product, always use the best quality and freshest ingredients to create amazing dishes, which is then followed by serving the best culinary experience to every guest.
E: Similar to the previous question, what do you think is the biggest difference between working in Italy (or Europe) and in Asia?
A: The biggest difference is that in Europe and Italy, Italian cuisine is well known for its original flavour and taste. We mainly grew up with those flavours accustomed to them. In Asia, the challenge is to bring said flavours, those memories and the overall experience. We want to maintain the authenticity of Italian cuisine, letting people know about and understand it.
E: Can you summarise the experience of working in a Michelin-starred restaurant?
A: Oh, clearly, working in a Michelin-starred restaurant has been an incredible experience. I had the opportunity to work with two of the biggest and most famous chefs in China. Yet, there’s always a learning curve that came with all the reputation and high standard. It was very hard. There was a lot of sacrifice. I put in the work and I grew a lot as a person and as a chef. Thanks to that, I am now able to bring what I have learned to Park Hyatt Jakarta.
E: As a young Italian chef, what attracted you to join Park Hyatt Jakarta at the beginning?
A: Nowadays, Park Hyatt is one of the biggest names as a luxury brand and part of Hyatt’s international hotel chain and having the opportunity to join it was fantastic for me. I did not think twice when they offered me the job. I really like the project in the first Park Hyatt to open in Indonesia. It has been an amazing challenge to do an opening of a hotel and a really good opportunity for me to grow and learn a lot.
E: What makes the Dining Room stand out among other restaurants in Jakarta?
A: I went to dine in a few Italian restaurants here in Jakarta, and they all serve the same food — dishes like carbonara, cacio e pepe, etc. Here at Dining Room, we don’t serve this, but we do something unique that you can’t find anywhere else in Jakarta. This is to show that in Italy we have more to offer than the classic dishes everyone already knows.
E: Lastly, as a foreigner who has been living in Jakarta for around a year now, do you have a favourite restaurant and dish here?
A: I don’t have just one favourite. I try a lot of restaurants around here, and I can say that I really like Indonesian cuisine. Since I’m here, I like to embrace the culture and eat what the locals eat. If I have to point my top three, of course I do love nasi goreng, as well as other favourites like the beef rendang and rawon.
Exquisite Taste Volume 41
Park Hyatt Jakarta
Jalan Kebon Sirih
Jakarta 10340, Indonesia
T: (+62) 2131111234