Colourful, flavourful Indo cuisine
Indonesian celebrity chef Rinrin Marinka wants to liven up traditional Indonesia dishes
She may be small in stature, but she makes up for it with a big personality.
Chef Rinrin Marinka can very well be Indonesia’s Giada De Laurentiis, the pretty, petite US celebrity chef and TV food host.
Both women also exude a sense of girl-next-door sexiness.
“Sexy? No. Tiny, yes!” Marinka told The New Paper
“Okay, maybe sexy outside the kitchen,” added the 1.58m chef, laughing.
The 36-year-old was in town on July 22 to promote the second season of Wonderful Indonesia Flavours.
The five-episode travel-cooking series premieres on July 27 at 7.40pm on Travel Channel (StarHub TV Ch 473 and Singtel TV Ch 253), and on July 28 at 9pm on Asian Food Channel (StarHub TV Ch 435).
Together with Australian chef Tobie Puttock, the duo travel to five Indonesian cities — Padang, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bali and Lombok — to discover the varied flavours of local cuisine and its arresting culture.
Marinka, who worked at a Sydney restaurant after graduating from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Australia, said she has never received any preferential treatment because of her gender.
Neither did she experience any sexism in the male-dominated industry.
The only challenge, said Marinka, was having to carry heavy stuff, such as huge pots and sacks of potatoes.
“I was treated like any other male staff, and I’m glad for that.”
Marinka picked up cooking when she was studying in Sydney in the late 90s.
“I started cooking for my friends, and they would ask for different kinds of cuisine.
“It was from learning and experimenting that I started to love cooking,” she said, adding that she still cooks about two to three times a week for her foodie friends.
Apart from filming Wonderful Indonesia Flavours, the Jakarta-based restauranteur is also occupied with Mars Kitchen, an organic lifestyle cafe that she opened in January last year.
The clean, healthy living concept was so well-received that she was approached to open a branch in Japan.
The charming food host is also a judge on reality TV shows MasterChef Indonesia and Junior MasterChef Indonesia.
As an ambassador for Indonesian cuisine, Marinka finds that it is sometimes a challenge to make Indonesian food aesthetically appealing.
“If you are familiar with Indonesian cuisine, you’d notice that almost all the food are either brown, yellow or white in colour.”
PHOTO: ASIAN FOOD CHANNEL / TRAVEL CHANNEL
She cited a traditional Jakarta food called Ketoprak Batawi (above), a dish of sliced fried tofu, steamed rice cakes, vegetables and vermicelli noodles served in peanut sauce.
“The colours are so dull, so in the (Jakarta) episode, I tried to brighten up the dish by adding Japanese cucumber and eggs.
“There’s not much vibrancy in (Indonesian food), so that’s what I aim to do in my recipes — to bring sophistication to everyday Indonesian food.”
The monotonous colour palette is due to the predominance of peanut sauce, explained Marinka, adding that people in Jakarta just love it.
“What I learnt through my travels around the country is that Indonesian tastebuds differ from city to city.”
She said: “For example, Balinese don’t like peanut sauce, and they would go for spicier stuff.
“They also use more fresh ingredients, and they love their duck. But Jakarta people prefer chicken and beef.”
The diversities of flavours are the highlights of her show, adding that there are many stories behind each dish too.
“I may be an Indonesian but there is so much to our culture that I’ve yet to experience and learn.”