One of the newest TV Programs that I eagerly follows at the moment is Iron Chef Indonesia.
If you’re a foodie, you’re mostly aware of this TV program. Iron Chef was originally from Japan precisely aired in 1993-1999. Iron Chef then was successfully adopted by other countries, including America, UK and Australia. So, when it was first said to be adopted here in Indonesia, under the TV Channel, RCTI, I was pretty excited.
Just to brief you quickly, Iron Chef TV program is a cooking program that involves 3 amazing chefs as the Iron Chefs. There will also be a Chairman, that will challenge other amazing chefs to beat either one of the Iron Chefs in cooking 3 courses, under 60 minutes. The battle is always going to be fierce, and either the Iron Chefs or the Chef Challengers will give all their best in winning the battle.
The best highlight for me is, the 3 Iron Chefs are well-known professional chefs that have established themselves in the culinary world in Indonesia.
There is Chef Adhika Maxi, an Indonesian chef who used to work in a 2-Michellin-Starred Restaurant in New York owned by Gordon Ramsay for 3 years. At this moment, he owns a lot of prestigious and infamous establisments including Union, Union Deli and AMKC Atelier.
There is also Chef Chris Salans, an American-French chef that has, in fact, a long list of resume that will guarantee you an awe. The most infamous restaurant he owns is in Bali, Mozaic Restaurant which is ultra well-known for its fine dishes. I honestly haven’t experienced dining in at Mozaic but since I have read a lot about him, my admiration is undeniable.
The last but not least, there is Chef Sezai Zorlu who owns an infamous Turkish restaurant in Jakarta, named Turkuaz. He got to serve Raja Salman during his visit here in Jakarta!
In the interview during the press conf, he actually told us that he didn’t come from a background that allowed him to experience fine dining dishes. In fact, he was the second son of 5 boys in the family that was taking the role to prepare all necessary ingredients for winter. He learned everything by experience and he is basically a master of spices. 😉
The press conf was casual and fun, and just by attending the event, I actually got to know the character of each chef. Chef Maxi, Chef Chris, and Chef are all different in their own way and despite so, they all are getting along really well! The best thing is that they respect each other and it obviously shows in their playful and cheeky interaction.
I actually found Chef Chris extremely hilarious, but he always tried to put a fierce facial expression! Chef Maxi on the other hand, is having a very laid back attitude. And Chef Sezai seems to be the nice one, but often the unexpectedly funny person too.
Meanwhile, when it comes to similarity, the three judges have 3 things that I can loudly point out. First, they are all very humble and very welcoming to us. Second, their sincere passion for food is undeniable. Third, they all have amazing skills (despite their unique and distinctive approaches in cooking) and professionalism. So, in short, they are like the Avengers of the culinary world in Indonesia!
Okay, let’s go to the critical part.
Their food creations!
# Chef Adhika Maxi
Chef Maxi were cooking 3 courses for us. It started with an appetizer, a main and a dessert.
And Chef Maxi finished his three creations first. To be honest, those three dishes looked simple (but with upscale presentation, of course), but the result was amazing. Those three didn’t fall short even a bit.
The appetizer was a truffle choux, which as the name suggests, is a choux with truffle cream in the inside. One bite and it exploded with amazing distinctive flavor. The truffle was as sexy as it could possibly be, and the choux was the beautiful crispy encase that let all the goodness slide in a bang. Boom and impressed.
The second was a Surf and Turf, combining an abalone and snow beef! The snow beef was amazingly tender since it has more marbling fats and the abalone was drenched in a very buttery-teriyaki –ish (it tasted like it) sauce. Oh, the snow beef was torched very quickly, that’s why I could also taste a smoky burnt flavor.
Then, the dessert was Ice Teler (open) Pie. It’s basically a pie that tasted like es teler. It was a very refreshing dessert and every ingredient (the avocado, jack fruit, and coconut) was mixed so well here. I never actually like Es Teler but Chef Maxi made me love his dessert quite madly.
# Chef Chris Salans
Chef Chris finished soon afterwards. He made two dishes for us to try and first, we met a very pastel-like Smoked Gindara Carpaccio.
Drenched in some kind of vinaigrette, the Gindara/butter fish turned out to be really good, and the rice-cake chip was very unique. The overall gindara carpaccio was as subtle as it could be, but if I got to thoroughly enjoy it as a whole, I’m convinced that it’s an amazing dish with a very complex flavor. It was sweet-ish, with a hint of acidity and smokiness, and somehow managed to smell like sea breeze. It’s like Chef Chris tried to connect us to a certain balance of goodness.
The second dish is Asinan Bogor. Ha! I was very skeptical about this. It sounded so simple and to me, not a very enticing dish. You can’t just sell this in an upscale restaurant and expect guests to love this just because it looks pretty and colorful with a bunch of edible flowers. Then I tried it and heck, I was totally underestimating the dish. The Asinan Bogor (which is actually a combination of pickled fruits) turned out to be really amazing. Everything was quickly pickled, producing a rather intense acidity, but somehow, it produces a very refreshing sweetness and spiciness. It tasted like rujak, but in a very escalated way. This, was an eye-opening experience.
# Chef Sezai Zorlu
Next, we approached Chef Sezai that looked very attentive to his massive creation, a combination of three separate dishes.
First, there’s Onion Stuffed Chicken with Chickpeas Rice, then there’s Marinated Char Grilled King Prawns with Couscous, and last, there’s Salt Baked Baby Lamb with exotic rice!
By the effort that Chef Sezai was putting, I could totally understand his huge passion in serving us his best dishes. The Lamb itself was said to be baked in salt for around six hours.
When the lamb came out of the oven, the clay-like case was broken down and the lamb showed up like a true champion. It was so satisfying to see the lamb being cut in an effortless manner (it sounds so wrong like I am a psychopath, but I’m totally not trying to be creepy here). After the lamb meat was cut down to pieces, every body seemed to already queue for the goodness.
The result was as expected, the lamb was super tender without any strange flavor it often has, the chicken was fragrant, and the prawns were, well, I didn’t try the prawns, but other people seemed to enjoy it much.
But anyway, the creations of Chef Sezai were truly satisfying and everyone ended up in a big grin. 😉
For me, these explanations of mine totally proved that my statement about their different approaches in cooking, is correct. Each and every single Iron Chef has their distinctive (other-wordly) skills and ways of creating their dishes.
Chef Maxi makes excellent fusion of Western-Indonesian cuisine, Chef Chris makes terrific contemporary Indonesian cuisine and Chef Sezai makes a very bold and authentic Ottoman cuisine. They definitely proved those all to me.
I was just totally in awe with either chef and I couldn’t stop mumbling about how seriously good they all were. Tasting their creations and meeting them in person were totally an honor for me. I love cooking and hope one day I could be as good as them (which is totally impossible for now). 😉
So, to conclude my post, I suggest you people to watch Iron Chef Indonesia on RCTI. In the program, you will see how well all the chefs cook and despite not being able to try the food yourself, you will get a vivid picture of the food creations they’re making. Guest judges will also help describe their experience by commenting about the food creations. Guest judges changes every week!
Watch Iron Chef Indonesia only on RCTI!
Chairman: Edward Akbar
Iron Chefs: Chef Sezai Zorlu, Chef Chris Salans, Chef Adhika Maxi
Field Reporter: Yuda Bustara
Commentator: Kevindra Soemantri