At 157cm, Indonesian Chef Rinrin Marinka is akin to the country’s cabai rawit (bird’s eye chilli). She is tiny, smoking hot, and is featured aplenty in GoAsean’s latest food segment, Food Maps.
A brand new Asean travel channel – kickstarted by Malaysia during its tenure as Chair of Asean in 2015 – GoAsean serves as a platform to promote travel and spur economic growth within the region.
One of its ventures is Food Maps which features short segments of two to three minutes that introduces local delicacies in the member countries of Asean. It is branded as a must-see show for foodies and travellers.
Rinrin is one of the hosts selected to introduce viewers to the wide array of mouth-watering cuisine available in Indonesia. Here, she plays food ambassador to Jakarta. The tiny chef takes viewers on a quick gastronomical tour of the bustling capital.
From Sate Padang, to Nasi Uduk to Sup Buntut, she shares the story behind each dish and destination. Find out where to get mouthwateringly good Gado Gado, sweet desserts like Es Teler and Ketan Susu, and why people line up for hours at a particular Martabak stall in the city.
“Food Maps will definitely help promote Indonesian cuisine to everyone around the world. Each segment tells you about the top culinary destinations in Jakarta and around it,” she said in an email interview.
A celebrity chef in her homeland, Rinrin is known for her chirpy and bubbly personality – and of course, her love for Indonesian food. Rinrin published her first cookbook Fantastic Cooking in 2011, in which she featured 30 recipes inspired by international and Indonesian cuisine. She also runs her restaurant Mars Kitchen in Jakarta.
“I studied at Le Cordon Bleu Sydney for two-and-a-half years before graduating in 2000. However, I first realised my love for food at seven, when I cooked my very first Bolu Kukus or Indonesian Steamed Cake, and everyone loved it,” said Rinrin. She worked in Sydney for a few years before returning to Indonesia, where she freelanced as a cooking instructor.
Her first foray into television came when she was approached to host Cooking In Paradise – a cooking show with a twist.
“I didn’t cook in a kitchen, but out in the open instead. It was quite challenging because I had to cook outdoors, introduce new recipes and on top of that, make sure that the food taste great. So, I spent a lot of time experimenting with new and creative recipes,” she said.
The chef is excited to be back in front of the camera with Food Maps, but this time only to share everything that she loves about Indonesian cuisine.
“I fully support Food Maps because it aims to do what I have set out to do – to take Indonesian cusine to the next level and make it popular around the world,” she said.
What is food to you?
Food is art, food is perfection, food is passion ... and passion never seeks permission. So, this is my way to live life to the fullest. Our food now is quite different from what our parents ate. We have pushed the envelope on creativity, and we have to keep on pushing. I always try to mix food with art – so you don’t just indulge your tummy, but also your eyes.
What sets Indonesian cuisine apart?
Each dish has its own story. The flavours are rich and strong, and we source our ingredients from nature. Our rendang has already made a name for itself in the world, but every region in Indonesia is known for its own culture and food. Indo-nesian cuisine is so diverse that it surprises even me every now and then.
Your favourite Indonesian dish?
Ketoprak, a vegetarian dish. It is a mixture of fried tofu, steamed rice cake, bean sprouts, rice vermicelli and cucumber. It’s served with peanut sauce and sweet soy sauce, and topped with crackers and fried shallots. I love it.
What inspires you to cook?
When I listen to something, when I look at something and when I touch something. They all give me inspiration to create something new. By listening, I find out the trends that are in the market, and I can create what people want. By looking at something, I can create the kind of food I want to see. And by touching something, I can imagine the kind of texture and shape of food that I want to make.
The best part of being a chef?
When I create new recipes and prepare them for others. I really feel appreciated when people like what I’ve cooked. That kind of moments remind me of why I wanted to be a chef in the first place.
The worst part ...
Is when people do not appreciate the food that I have prepared. Appreciation can make or break a chef.
Promote Indonesian food to the world. That’s my dream! I want the world to recognise what Indonesian food is all about and everything that we have to offer.
Did you find this article insightful?