MotionPerspectiveDegan Septoadji: Walking the Path of Unending Discovery

Degan Septoadji: Walking the Path of Unending Discovery

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Renowned Chef Degan Septoadji sat down with InClover and talked about his career, passion, and ongoing projects.

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Trained in classic European cooking from his years studying in Berufsbildende Schule Technik II, Germany, Chef Degan Septoadji gained his professional reputation in five-star premier fine dining and luxury establishments, including the Hilton International, Grand Hyatt, The Ritz-Carlton, Sol Melia in Indonesia, and Atlantis Royal Towers in the Bahamas. Degan then spent seven years in Bangkok working at Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts as corporate chef and traveled extensively afterwards, helping initiate restaurants in Tibet, Morocco, Sri Lanka, China, and the Maldives. In 2012, Degan appeared as a judge on popular reality TV show MasterChef Indonesia. Apart from being a chef-entrepreneur (@nasibagoes catering services, @ruangbagoes event space) and consulting for hotel chains, Degan often appears as a regular guest speaker and judge in cooking competitions, webinars/live streaming, host to client’s high-end private events, guest chef in hotels, television appearances, culinary instructor, and motivator.

Degan views food as an inseparable part of his life, more than just sustenance, and the fact that he has built his career in various hotels and restaurants in various locations is partly why he turned the necessity to travel into his passion. He was able to meet people from different ethnicities, cultures and regions and learn new things from them. Degan found art in his daily trade such as preparing food. Food plating to make your dish as tempting as possible is an art form in itself and needs a different set of skills to cooking. He has met talented chefs who could use a hand in plating and vice versa, he has tasted beautifully garnished dishes that could use extra seasoning. According to Degan, his ideal art of cooking is not only a mix n’ match in color, but also flavor. A good chef must be able to create a combination of flavors that’s acceptable by the people they’re cooking for. He’s at his most careful when it comes to cooking for people who are not on the same page of taste buds as he is. Understanding how people’s cultural background comes into play is a vital part of doing this correctly.

The expansion of Indonesian food culture internally as well as from abroad also brings something that Degan thinks is in dire need of deepening; the knowledge of food is key. Bringing food from outside a certain region might clash with the local palate. On the contrary, creating a weird fusion food using ingredients not familiar to the original version also often occurs such as the famous chef Jamie Oliver’s version of paella chorizo which invited strong reactions. Indonesia as a foodie society is also very snappy with how the national food is depicted in recreations. Jokingly, he added that one should refrain from turning food fusion into food confusion.

During the pandemic, where ways of life around the world changed drastically, Degan saw that the food industry experienced a dramatic change where people no longer need to go out and eat -partly out of health regulations- but they spent their locked down time learning to cook and create dishes beyond their usual skill levels. The existence of online marketplaces also transformed the entire food industry where people would prefer to have their food delivered to their homes. Degan contributed his knowledge and time to help small food businesses during the times of woe by giving seminars and know-how on professional management and marketing as culinary business curator in cities like Jambi and Pekanbaru as well as Bali.

Chef Degan aspires to make Indonesian cuisine more known in the world. Compared to already famous cuisine from other countries such as Japan, Korea, Thailand, China and Italy, Indonesia is left way behind. This situation can be clearly seen by how easily one can find the aforementioned restaurants in major cities around the world, while when Degan worked in Bangkok for 7 years, which is relatively close to Indonesia, he was only able to find one Indonesian restaurant. One of the ways to let the world know about Indonesian cuisine is to hold culinary events in Indonesian embassies. Degan has been involved in many Indonesian cuisine promotion activities and every one of them has been a success, unfortunately further knowledge regarding the cuisine is still too little. Social media engagements might be the answer for that. In addition, Chef Degan wishes to share his knowledge and experience to the younger generation, be it from competitions, curations, or school visits. Finally, Degan stated that he enjoys the food he eats the most when it’s done correctly and using the freshest locally sourced ingredients.

IG: @deganseptoadji
YT: Behind the Chef by Chef Degan

Aditya Purwanto
Aditya Purwanto
A jack of all trades and master of none. He entered the workforce as a trained graphic designer but one day, he’s asked to write about cars since he couldn’t stop talking about them and he’s been doing so ever since as well as other topics such as food (yum) and interesting places.

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