Asli—original, indigenous, native.

One word. Multiple applications for the purpose of this project.

ASLI FOOD PROJECT ft. Indonesia has three main objectives—(1) To compile data on indigenous Indonesian plants across the archipelago, (2) to create a culinary resource of select plants from the research for the food community, and (3) to foster appreciation of home-grown ingredients among Indonesians.

(1) ASLI FOOD PROJECT ft. Indonesia, with assistance from Indonesian botanists and ethnobotanists, will gather existing research on native plants, such as their geographical growing regions and seasonality. After analysis, these plants will be located in the field and their traditional culinary uses known by speaking to the locals who consume these fruits and vegetables in their daily life.

(2) After fieldwork has concluded, ASLI FOOD PROJECT ft. Indonesia will consolidate the data into a resource for the food and beverage industry—from chefs to bartenders to food scientists—as a reference for ideas and inspiration on how Indonesian produce can elevate their field of work. Based on further interest in the name of sustainable, economic benefit for local villages, sourcing options will also be considered by ASLI FOOD PROJECT.

(3) ASLI FOOD PROJECT ft. Indonesia believes Indonesians’ apathy towards its native produce is to the detriment of cultural and environmental preservation. We believe compelling storytelling can alter that lack of awareness. The project will use multiple platforms—writing, photography and video—to share the behind-the-scene and self-reflective moments of the research, travel, village interaction, and food discovered in hopes of drawing Indonesians into a greater sense of pride out of what comes from their own country and to protect its bounty.

ASLI FOOD PROJECT ft. Indonesia needs you to make this project successful! Follow us and share our adventure with others as we travel across the archipelago in the name of cuisine and culture.



CRYSTAL CHIU | chef & researcher

Crystal Chiu, a native Texan, began her culinary career in the United States, starting from Chicago (French Pastry School, Blackbird) to New York City (Restaurant Daniel). After a few years time, in order to expand her kitchen experience, Crystal began a year-long journey staging at numerous restaurants and establishments throughout the Asia Pacific (Narisawa, Brae) and documented the experience on her blog, www.chewyfoodlife.com.

Crystal’s most recent position with Chef Will Goldfarb at Room4Dessert Ubud provided the opportunity to live in Indonesia. It was here that her interest in local ingredients increased, particularly because sourcing was a notorious challenge in the geographically expansive country, leading to restricted access to obtain truly Indonesian produce. She also soon discovered that information on indigenous plants was scattered, resources for area chefs to learn more were limited, and interest from Indonesians to appreciate their native plants were minimal.

As a result, Crystal launched ASLI FOOD PROJECT ft. Indonesia with the objective of improving those factors. Taking a hiatus from restaurant work to focus on this project, she believes her findings and stories gathered through this experience will play a role in Indonesia’s culinary and cultural resurgence.