Rafael Gil

Rafael Gil

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Chef Rafa, Director of Culinary at Keraton at The Plaza, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Jakarta, has a vivacious personality, as well as a deep passion and undoubted talent in the kitchen, which has won him many fans through his career. This includes stints in Michelin-starred restaurants, luxury five-star hotels and as a contestant in The Final Table on Netflix. Previously, for his Rafa’s Private Kitchen, he created masterpieces for discerning gourmands. Now, during this uncertain situation, he is posting recipes daily on Instagram (@rafafgil). Exquisite Taste talked to him about enjoying staying at home.

Q: You’ve been posting delicious comfort food recipes on your Instagram, often with your young daughter helping out. It looks like you’re having a lot of fun during lockdown.

A: I’ve actually started cooking with my daughter because of the lockdown. All the facilities where we live have been closed, so I can’t take her to the playground or even swimming. So I decided to try involving her with what I love to do. The big surprise for me has been discovering her own passion for cooking. It’s been great fun to see how she has reacted. She loves copying me, especially with making bread!

Q: What are you cooking at home for your family during lockdown?

A: I try to cook a bit of everything, including what I am posting on Instagram. It’s been a surprise for me to see how many people are enjoying these posts and asking for the recipes. It seems lots of people are trying to cook new things at home. I’m making Brazilian recipes too, from my hometown, as well as comfort food that we can all enjoy.

Q: What advice would you like to share with our readers about eating healthy at home?

A: I think that one thing we are all learning so that we can stay safe from the virus is that we have to strengthen our bodies and our immune systems now. Eating only junk food and heavy comfort food without much protein and good nutrition is just not good for us. We have to eat healthy, nutritious food. At home, I eat a lot of rice, but we cook it half and half combined with quinoa so that it has plenty of protein too and is not entirely carbohydrate. I also eat a lot of fruit at home, this is very common in Brazil and easy to do in Indonesia, too. It is also important to eat lots of salads and vegetables. Nowadays it is very easy to get things like chia seeds – and other such seeds – in the supermarket. This is what I do at home.

Q: Have you discovered any new hobbies while you’ve been staying at home with your family?

A: I have never watched much TV because my life in the kitchen is really busy, but now I am discovering Netflix. Being at home with my family all the time means that I am finding out what my daughter loves to do. I’m playing games with her at home, like hide and seek, and other simple games. This is the beautiful thing from this lockdown.

Q: What do you do to stay positive at home while we are restricted from going out?

A: These restrictions have meant that we can focus on our family and our home, whereas before we didn’t have the time and our focus was more outside the house. Spending time with my wife and my daughter, talking to them and doing things together is the best. I can take the time to do things that make them happy even when we are spending our entire time at home.

RECIPE

NY Cookies

Ingredients

115g butter

80g brown sugar

80g white sugar

150g milk chocolate pieces

100g dark chocolate pieces

250g flour

3g bicarbonate of soda

5g salt

10g baking powder

1 egg

Method

  1. Mix butter, brown and white sugars until well combined.
  2. Add the egg, mix well until the colour is slightly paler.
  3. Stir in the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder until just mixed.
  4. Add the chocolate pieces and stir in until well mixed.
  5. Take 100g to 125g cookie dough in your hand and shape into a ball. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all dough is finished.
  6. Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 200C, with a baking tray with parchment paper in the oven. Place the frozen cookie dough balls onto the baking tray, leaving plenty of space between them.
  8. Bake for 17-20 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 15 minutes.

Makes about 8-12 cookies

Options

  1. Replace 100g chocolate with chopped nuts.
  2. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place small amounts of nutella. Place in the freezer for a couple of minutes so that it is firm. Make a hole in each ball of dough, add nutella, then re-form the ball.
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