It was exactly a week ago when I wrapped up a short yet insightful interview with culinary whiz chef Putri R. Mumpuni. Taking place in a picturesque cooking studio on Jalan Prapanca, the trusted lieutenant of Indonesian cuisine maestro William Wongso laid bare her passion for cookery, her struggles, and the next big plan on her agenda.
“I love to eat!” she remarks eagerly after I asked how she ended up becoming a chef. “It just so happens that my mum is a cook for a catering service. It runs in the family, I suppose.” “I started out in my mum’s kitchen when I was a kid. I love her cooking, so I was determined to try and make my own,” she continues.
Her talents shone from a relatively young age as she was crowned a winner in various cooking competitions during her middle school years. “They (her victories) gave me the confidence to follow my dreams. I then opted to enrol to a vocational high school in Yogyakarta to take my pursuit of becoming a chef a step further,” she enthuses.
It wasn’t all plain sailing, though. In order to participate in Top Chef Indonesia–the cooking competition that upped her profile significantly–she had to do away with her steady cooking gig at Aston Hotel Yogyakarta. It was a sacrifice that led to no avail as she was eliminated after reaching the top ten a couple of months after entering the tournament.
“I was at my lowest ebb following my knocking out. However, I knew then that my weakness was cooking up Indonesian food. I decided to work on it. Fortunately, someone I know introduced me to my now-mentor Pak William Wongso. I’m so glad to have met him. I’ve learned so much under his tutelage,” she says.
Currently globetrotting with William Wongso as they promote Indonesian cuisine to the world, she’s very much excited at what lies ahead for them. “As food consultants, we are working on a project involving a fine-dining restaurant in Bali at the moment. We are also set to hold an exhibition in Frankfurt, Colombo, and Washington DC in the very near future,” she reveals. “Although these are mainly efforts to introduce Indonesian food to others, I’ll also be teaching them on how to prepare our beloved dishes at the same time.”