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This Dubai chef has prepared dishes worthy of a president – News


Idin Asmitha was recently included in the region’s Top 50 Executive Chef Power List 2023

Photo: Exterior

Published: Wednesday 11 Oct 2023, 20:33

Last update: Thursday, October 12, 2023, 0:11

At a recent diplomatic reception in Dubai to celebrate Indonesia’s 78th Independence Day, one man stood out showcasing his country’s rich heritage. This was Idin Asmitha, 49, a long-time resident of the United Arab Emirates who not only prepared culinary delights for diplomats and dignitaries, but had also been asked to prepare meals for the president of the fourth most populous country in the world. world.

Asmitha’s task on Tuesday night was to spread the culinary traditions of her beloved country. She led a team of around 30 cooks and kitchen staff who prepared all-time favorite Indonesian dishes such as nasi goreng, chicken satay, tempeh, soto ayam (chicken soup), beef rendang and more.

Photo: Exterior

Photo: Exterior

What they did – in diplomatic parlance – is called gastrodiplomacy or cultural diplomacy by promoting and sharing a distinctive local cuisine. “People always gather around food,” Asmitha said, “and one way to share values, culture and tradition is by sharing meals.”

Photo Ángel Tesorero/KT

Photo Ángel Tesorero/KT

Asmitha and his team accomplished their task with aplomb: not only did they serve food, but they also explained to local and foreign dignitaries the details and origin of each dish.

The experience of preparing meals for VIPs is not really new for Asmitha. She told Khaleej Times that on a couple of occasions she was asked to prepare meals for Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who frequently visits the UAE.

“Our president is known to enjoy simple home-cooked Indonesian meals, but they must be authentic, which is why our embassy asked me to prepare meals when he came here in July last year and during his visit to the Dubai World Expo in 2021.” Asmitha said.

Photo: Exterior

Photo: Exterior

He added: “I can consider those occasions as some of the highlights of my career. Imagine preparing food for the leader of the fourth largest country (in terms of population) in the world. President Widodo is not only the leader of more than 270 million Indonesians, but he is also popular here in the UAE. In fact, a street in the capital (Abu Dhabi) is named after him and I had the honor of serving him.”

Service with a smile

Asmitha himself is considered a VIP in his profession. He was recently included in the region’s Top 50 Executive Chef Power List 2023, which features more than 1,000 excellent and highly competitive chefs.

But what got him to the top, he said, was his attitude and perseverance to always work hard. “I always serve with a smile; yes, it is very important because if you do not have a positive attitude, it will always reflect in your food,” Asmitha said, explaining: “If you are stressed, your food will taste friendly; If you are angry or upset, Your food will taste bad too.”

Photo: Ángel Tesorero/KT

Photo: Ángel Tesorero/KT

culinary journey

Asmitha, whose wife is also a chef, was born in Bandung, the capital of the Indonesian province of West Java, known for its volcanoes and tea plantations. She graduated from the Sandy Putra Hotel Tourism Academy and began her professional career at the age of 19 at the Jakarta Hilton Indonesia. She started from the ranks and also worked in several hotels. Then a human resources director saw his potential and recruited him to work in Dubai in 2000.

Starting as a demi chef de partie (station chef) he rose to become sous chef, then head chef and executive sous chef at several hotels including Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Park Hyatt Jeddah and Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas. He is currently the executive chef overseeing several restaurants at the Media Rotana Hotel.

Photo: Exterior

Photo: Exterior

Recipe for success

Throughout his three decades of culinary journey, Asmitha said one thing that never left him were his notebooks of recipes and procedures that he personally wrote down over the years.

“When I started, YouTube didn’t exist. I was one of that generation of chefs who received personal mentoring and had to write everything down. I have worked with many well-known brands and establishments in Indonesia and throughout the Middle East; as well as internationally recognized Michelin-starred chefs such as Henrik Yde-Andersen, Igor Macchia, Michael Schlow and Giorgio Locatelli,” he said.

“I have written down everything I learned from them and now I have several notebooks of recipes that I hope to pass on to my apprentices,” he added.

“But the most important recipes for success that I would always like to remind my young people – as I told them when we served the dignitaries during the recent event at the Indonesian Consulate – were hard work, passion, creativity and enthusiasm. In reality, cooking is hard work and passion is the fuel to create good food. But you also have to be creative and also learn something new with enthusiasm,” she concluded.


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