This is the Exclusives Interview With ICA President Henry Alexie Bloem.
1. Give us a brief history of your career and what made you choose to be a chef?
I have no interest on culinary since the beginning as I choose the Food Production curriculum in Hotel School also by accident. But after 5 years working in Hotel Industry, I started to be more curious on “how good food can be created from simple ingredients”. My curiosity took me to lots of finding in new recipes, good technique of cooking and combining them with all knowledge that I learned.
I started to pay interest on Bali authentic food and observe all the traditional way of my Mum to cook lots of Balinese Food. She cooks very well and all of her dishes is my favourites. She’s very brave in using all spices which make normal food become very special. In a way, I believe my childhood was the one who inspired me but at the end my curiosity in creating good quality of has taking me to where I am now.
I enjoyed Good Quality of Food and I want every staffs whom working under my supervision able to serve a good quality of food to our customers.
2. What is Food Quality means to you?
Food quality for me is delicious in taste, great presentation which create a mouth watering effect, healthy in terms of process of cooking and ingredients choose, and last proper method of cooking.
3. Who is your Favorites Chef?
At this stage I have none specific chef or name which I adore as my Favourites, however I always put my respect for those whom able to explore further in the world of culinary in enhancing the original recipes in to new recipes either it becomes a fusion or new way of cooking method. I also adore those whom able to brought up their traditional food into well-known international cuisine.
4. Who was the person that was most influential in your career?
I have no specific person that really influence me, my career in the beginning just flow like water. I fell in love with this world of culinary since 1995 where I started to love the challenge and I find my joy plus meaningful of who I am in here. I start to feel this is my destiny and I have never want to leave this world.
5. What do you think about foie grass? There’s a pro-contra regarding this issue..
Honestly, I have a dilemma which perhaps most of Chefs or Food Lover will feel the same too. In terms of Food Taste, as somebody who appreciate “GOOD FOOD”, I do appreciate the excellent taste of Foie Grass and I believe this is one of the Food of Gods. It’s require a specific technique to cook and most people love Foie Grass NOT only because of taste but also knowing the difficulties of getting it. It is similar as caviar, shark fin and other expensive food which mostly difficult to get. In the other hand, as one of Animal Lovers, I believe every human being will not like such of treatment done to animal, for getting “Good Food” in the table. This can be considered as one of sadistic act, but if we ONLY look at this from the process, I shall also refer to all meats that we consume which also coming from Animal Cutting I.e. Beef, which come from killing the Cow.
6. What is your culinary philosophy and has it changed throughout your career and why?
My philosophy in culinary world is always encourage our people to use local ingredients / product and only use the import product items if our country could not produce it yet, I.e. cheese, etc. Using local ingredients or product is not only saving the cost, but also contributing better economic to local farmer as well Indonesian Food Industry. I found most of our Local product is also well competing with import, it is again back to your skill to turn them into excellence cuisine.
This philosophy is growth throughout my career now.
7. In your opinion, what are the qualities that make a successful chef?
A Good and successful Chef should have the passion in delivering good product throughout his team work, able to transfer / share his knowledge through training and coaching, have a strong leadership to manage his team, self motivated to encourage his team to perform at their best and able to keep the consistency of food deliverance to customer as if The Chef cooks the dish by himself. A good Chef is NOT a one man show, he is more as a planner, a conceptor who deliver this concept to the team and made them buy this idea into passion to deliver similar quality.
8. What was the moment you are most proud of in your career?
In the past, I always said my proud moment was being the Executive Chef whom cooking the food for USA President, George Bush. Along with time, I finally found my proud moment is no longer based on cooking for VIP person or any Big Name. Now, I can proudly say, the most powerful moment will be the time when I able to work with my ICA team to strengthen our networking, contributing lots of opportunity for our member to exhale through competition, making lots of remarkable record for ICA since 2007, up to current date where ICA has strong reputation as one of outstanding Association which can be level up as IDI (Ikatan Dokter Indonesia). This highlight when I received the INDONESIAN ARCHIPELAGO AWARD from MANAN FOUNDATION for my dedication to unite the Indonesian Archipelago as Creator, a Developer and Conservator of Indonesian Culinary (Dedikasinya merangkai Nusantara sebagai kreator, pengembang & Pelestari Kulinari Indonesia) in December 2011. Among all person who received the awards I noticed so many big name who has done lots of contribution towards this country and I feel so proud to stand there as one who believe in the unite power and richness of every Islands in our Indonesian Archipelago. There was no money involve in here but as a professional, I feel I am not only running after for material but Finally I able to contribute something for my Nation.
9. Is there anything you would not eat or try?
I love FOOD and I will try any food just to experience the taste. Either I like it or either not, that’s not the point, but to taste and experience it, would be the knowledge that I could share to anybody. Afterward either I want to eat them again or not, it will be back to moral obligation.
10.What are your dreams and goals that are yet to be accomplished?
My dream to have my own Dining Venue either Restaurant, Cafe or Warung, where people can experience all special mouth watering dish of Indonesia which I had the bless to learn during my visit to most province in Indonesia, from common dish to speciality, which make both Local and International food lover, appreciate Indonesian Food for its taste, its presentation, its original recipe, technique of cooking without have to be adjusted into market tongue. It’s truly a dream now but I believe it will be come true if you believe on it and work hard on it.
My goal to develop Culinary business to become my own living income, where I have the opportunity to contribute better man power by hiring the fresh and young chefs to become real professional in the future.
11.As a President of Indonesian Chef Association, where would you like this organization to be in the near future?
To make ICA as one of World reputable Chefs Association which based in Indonesia and have strong networking with other International Chefs Association, for mutual win win working cooperation such as :
– Overseas Cross Training for Young chefs and Senior Chefs
– Food promotion of Indonesia
– International Competition
– Education and sharing Knowledge Seminar etc.
In the other hands, I would like ICA to create specific VOW as what IDI has (Ethical Doctor Vow – Sumpah Jabatan Dokter) that as a profession, each ICA member will hold on the professional integrity as well genuine contribution towards Indonesian Culinary development by supporting Local Product and Industry.
12.How many Executive’s Chef in this organization?
ICA membership is not only focus on position of Executive Chef, however we open the opportunity for all position at Food Production, Supplier partner which related to Food and Beverage product, Young Chefs up to students whom still following Chefs School in Indonesia. In total ICA has 2000 member from all over Indonesia province.
13.How you see the salary standard of Executives Chef in Indonesia, and abroad?
In Indonesia, Executive Chef position is unfortunately not yet rewarded as one of prestigious position that hold a high income compare to Overseas.
Most of our local Executive Chefs earn a very below income compare to their talent, skill and ability. While overseas, Executive Chef is rewarded as one of most prestigious income which sometime within same level as General Manager, especially if the person has a wide experience and specific skill, he can be above the major position in the Hotel, in terms of income.
This is one of ICA mission to bring better salary level for Local Executive Chefs in this Hospitality Industry and rewards them as we reward a Talented Painter by purchasing their painting.
14.How to integrating ICA missions and Government mission of Indonesian Culinary to the world?
ICA has a major plan to work closely with Indonesian Government especially Ministry of Tourism to join promotion during any International Tourism Travel Fair, in introducing Indonesia as Culinary Destination. At this stage, it is obvious for major attended International Tourism Travel Fair, our Government use Event Organiser to organise this and bring the Celebrity Chefs (name no need to be mentioned) as ambassador to introduce Indonesian Food. I believe this is more into commercial point as Overseas market would not recognise those Indonesian Chef Celebrity as our Local TV lover. The missions is to use the professional Executive Chefs through ICA, to become the ambassador for any international Food Festival.
15.What is ICA program to increase the members which now has been around the world..
To continue the current mission to bring the vision into reality. For the past five years, along with ICA growth and development program, ICA receives many application from Culinary people, Food Lovers etc, to become the member.
For the next 5 years, we would like to work closely with media partner, start from Print Media, Audio Visual, Digital and Social Network, to bring more international coverage and younger age to become Indonesian Food Lover by registering as ICA member.
We want to work closely with Media, not through advertisement as ICA is not a commercial establishment. We want to enhance each Media Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in developing the Indonesian Culinary.
16.How you manage your time, work and family, and as ICA President.
I am doing my best for Time Management for my daily life. Quality time for all activities are very important, as I have two family in Jakarta and Bali, on monthly basis I tried to visit my 15th years daughter and 8th years son in Jakarta. While for my family in Bali, I tried to spend evening time with my beloved wife and our 3 years old daughter for dinner and revert back again afterwards with my daily activities. My family very understand me and fully support all activities that I love. I am not always there for them but I never forget to spend my Sunday with them, celebrate special event together such as Birthday and Anniversary. Family is my priority no matter what but balance in life is important. ICA is also my other family and so does my colleague at Hotel and also my Harley Davidson community ( I love to ride my Harley )
President of Indonesian Chef Association (ICA), 2012 – 2017.
Received Indonesia Archipelago Award 2011, from Manan Foundation, Atas Dedikasinya Merangkai Nusantara Sebagai Kreator Pelestari dan Pengembang Kulinari Indonesia (Jakarta 12 Desember 2011)
Represent Indonesia during Asean Fair 2011 at Discovery Mall Kuta 11 – 13 November 2011, Bali.
Represent Indonesia during Asean Plus Culinary Festival 2011 at La Piaza 16-18 September 2011, Jakarta.
Certified Assessor Executive Chef 2009.
From BNSP ( Indonesian Professional Certification Authority)
Vote as a Culinary Executive Officer – Indonesia.
(03/28/10 – 03/28/11) “The Influential Culinary Star”.
2010 Vote as a President of AREGALA Indonesia.(Asociacion de Restauradores Gastronomicos de Las Americas)
President of Indonesian Chef Association (ICA), 2008 – 2012.
Vice President of BCP, Bali Culinary Professional, Chef Association in Bali with more than 150 member of chef, for period of 2002 up to 2005.
President of “IJUMPI” Bali 2003-2007 which now officially merged under name of “ICA – Indonesian Chef Association.
As an Assessor Team on the Tri Hita Karana Tourism Awards & Accreditations for the Balinese Food Festival 2008 at Bali Arts centre, Denpasar Bali, 4 Dec.2008
Elected as “2000 Manager of the Year – Bali Dynasty Resort” for demonstrating exemplary Manager Assignment.
Rewarded as “Indonesian Chef of the Year 2002” by Unilever Indonesia in Jakarta on October 17, 2002. The cooking competition was attended by Professional Chefs from 27 provinces of Indonesia.
Rewarded as “Indonesia Chef of the Year 2003” during Jakarta Final Cooking competition which held by Cipta Kreasi Sedap Sekejab – ABC.
During my assignment as Executive Chef at The Patra Bali Resort & Spa In October 2003 Chef for working luncheon for the President of the United Stated of America (USA), Mr. George W. Bush. This event was hosted by The President of the Republic of Indonesia, Ibu Megawati Soekarno Putri.
In May 15, 2004 – Chef for Working Luncheon in Honors of The President of The Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, H.E. Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, hosted by The President of The Republic of Indonesian, Ibu Megawati Soekarno Putri.
Head chairman for 1st until the 5th “Dewata Culinary Competition,” with more than 200 Chef Participant from 25 hotels, 5 catering, 5 restaurants and 3 tourism hotel school in Bali, held on November 29, 2003, 2004, 2005, August 2006, and August 2007.
Honorary Judges for Jakarta Food Hotel Tourism – Salon Culinary in Jakarta, February 2007
Honorary Judges for Gardenia Food & Garden Fair 2006 in Gardenia Country Inn – Kakaskasen II Tomohon, Manado 12 – 14 May 2006.
Represent Bali to compete for the Indonesian Regional Final of MLA Black Box Culinary Competition, in Jakarta. April 5, 2005.
Has appreciation from Bali TV, for professional judging Fruit & Vegetables Carving Competition, 21 Juni 2004
Has appreciation from Dinas Kebudayaan Provinsi Bali, for become a Judge on June 22, 2003 during Pesta Kesenian Bali.
First winner in Bali during competition was held by Royco, Unilever Indonesia and become Bali Chef of The Month on July 2002.
Has appreciation from PT Pamerindo Buana Abadi, Indonesia International Specialized Excebition, for professional excellence in committee organizing Bali Salon Culinary Challenge, January 31st – February 2nd 2002.and Bali Salon Culinary Challenge on 5th – 7th February 2004
Honored second winner during the Balinese Food Competition at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Nusa Dua on September 27, 2000, held by Dinas Pariwisata Provinsi Bali.
Winning the Silver Medal for the Nasi Tumpeng during the resent Salon Culinaire Jakarta’ 99.
Winning Bronze medal for the Fruit & Vegetables Carving during the recent Salon Culinaire Challenge, Jakarta October 15, 1995.
We would like to thank you for your time and we wishing you all the best in Culinary field.