“Providing a fresh perspective on traditional dishes will make Indonesian cooking more exciting.” – Petty Elliott
Petty Elliott has been a food writer for 10 years, with bylines in national newspapers and magazines. She has published two cookbooks, one of which celebrated her Manadonese roots. Petty’s work in the culinary arts is not limited to Indonesia only. For five years she has been a contributing writer for the famed Miele Guide, a regional guidebook for restaurants in Asia. When not writing, Petty holds cooking classes and is an active philanthropist at the Wisma Cheshire Foundation, a home for the disabled in Jakarta.
In the last four years, Petty’s popularity has jumped, with invitations to numerous culinary events at five-star hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton Pacific Place and Miele House Jakarta. Petty has also been honored by the Chaine Des Rotisseurs, a prestigious international community whose members share a passion for the culinary arts, when she was invited to cook at an exclusive event together with Indonesian chefs of international caliber such as VindexTengker and Gilles Marx.
Several years ago, Petty refused the label of chef, insisting instead that she was a cook. But the humble home cook was gradually entrusted with taking over professional kitchens to lead the troops. F&B business owners began calling on her to train their young chefs. So after a dear friend came to her two years ago and begged her to see her potential, she began to think of her accomplishments and decided that yes, she might in fact deserve the title. In the last two years, Petty has worn her “chef” badge comfortably.
This year, Petty is gearing up to introduce Indonesian food at the 400-year-old Frankfurt Book Fair as a culinary ambassador for Indonesia together with other local culinary figures such as Sandra Djohan and William Wongso.
After the Frankfurt Book Fair had begun to feature more and more cookbooks each year, the Gourmet Gallery was introduced in 2011 as part of the festival, and this is where Petty and company will showcase their knowledge and skills to an international audience. Petty will play a major role in a cooking collaboration with German chefs when she and her fellow ambassadors from Indonesia will be challenged to helm the kitchens of some of Germany’s most notable restaurants to introduce Indonesian flavors to patrons. The program first started last year and took place at the Blumen restaurant in Frankfurt, where Petty served up her modern twists on traditional Manadonese cuisine.
Petty prides herself on being able to replace traditional cooking methods with updated techniques without compromising taste and authenticity. Her objective is to show that Indonesian food can be made in modern kitchens just like any other cuisine. She believes that modernizing Indonesian cooking is the key for it to be accepted globally and is integral to its preservation.
Petty believes that Indonesian food can command an equally global reach as Thai cuisine through culinary diplomacy, government support for local entrepreneurs to run businesses overseas, and increasing the distribution and availability of Indonesian ingredients. To make Indonesian food go global, a food revolution is required. There must first be improvements in Indonesian agriculture, farming and fisheries. Petty has seen examples of people starting their own revolutions independently. One company has collaborated with small-scale farmers to cultivate native rice seedlings. Others work closely with Indonesian coffee farmers to produce high-quality coffee beans. Some have even dared to locally produce cheese, wine and chocolate even though these are not local staples. Petty keeps herself up-to-date with these progressions through her travels, meeting people who share her passion for food and taking occasional walks to traditional markets.