Video | Danke How-to

Did you know homemade cheese can be found in Indonesia? We didn’t until our research trip! Watch this short how-to video to see how the only village in the country is making cheese. The process will surprise you.

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Recipe | Dangke ft. South Sulawesi

Asians and cheese do not pair well.

While conducting research and development at Room4Dessert in Bali for a new dessert menu, I aged a wheel of camembert with house-made amaretto distilled from salak seeds.

The office above the kitchen was the only space to store my project in a “cave-like” temperature, since this was the only room with an air-conditioner.

The camembert ripened quickly. The rind developed a light-orange tint and the interior was fast approaching a liquid state. And the smell.

Being raised in a Western country helped me develop a palate and nose that didn’t discriminate against barnyard ripeness, so every time I opened the box, I inhaled deeply and began to long for cheeses I could never find in Indonesia.

My staff, on the other hand, did not have as much of a mature reaction.

The moment the door swung open, sleepy eyes from the previous night’s service would widen in shock once their olfactory senses were alert to the smell. Hands to nose in less than a second. A muffled scream in less than three. I could have timed it with a stopwatch.

Needless to say, the office — usually a traffic jam of bodies and movement — was undisturbed when I was working with cheese.

So when I heard there was a village in South Sulawesi voluntarily making cheese, and had been for generations, I had to see for myself.

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Feature | Three Kitchens

How do I get invited into kitchens as a stranger?

This is a familiar challenge in the food industry, especially for cooks in search of broadening their experience with stages.

There are cooks who use every connection to close in on degrees of separation. There are cooks who send emails to the world’s Michelin-starred or Pellegrino-listed restaurants and hope for a response. There are cooks who camp outside doors of restaurants they wish to work in, even though they have already been rejected.

I went through this ritual three years ago when I left my job in New York City to travel across the Asia-Pacific and stage at restaurants in the region — all without having contacts, but trusting in the journey to open doors along the way.

Could I apply the same strategy as I traveled throughout rural Sulawesi?

Continue reading “Feature | Three Kitchens”