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 discover traditional plants and produce used in Indonesian cuisine across the archipelago, (2) to create a resource of these plants and their uses, and (3) to foster appreciation of these ingredients and the cultures using them.

(1) ASLI FOOD PROJECT ft. Indonesia will gather research on lesser-known produce growing in Indonesia for use in cooking, as well as document the different uses of certain plants across the islands to highlight how various cultures utilize their ingredients. This project will also record the recipes and techniques behind the dishes that incorporate these ingredients.

(2) ASLI FOOD PROJECT ft. Indonesia will consolidate this data in order to preserve knowledge on Indonesian produce and cooking techniques behind this country’s vast cuisines. This information can also be used as a inspiration for the food industry in Indonesia and across the world.

(3) ASLI FOOD PROJECT ft. Indonesia believes indifference towards Indonesia’s traditional produce is to the detriment of cultural preservation, and that compelling storytelling can improve this. This project will use writing, photography and videography to share behind-the-scene and reflective moments of the research, travel, and people discovered in hopes of drawing Indonesians into understanding the value behind this country’s cultural wealth and to protect it.

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.