It’s hard to miss her. When she walks in, her infectious smile lights up the entire room. With a ridiculously charming personality to match and cooking skills to win over any palate, it’s no surprise that Putri Miranti Indra has become such a prominent face on cooking shows in Indonesia. Between the magic she makes in the kitchen and her kick-butt style, we had to talk to her about her culinary journey and how she has made a spot for herself here in Indonesia.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey and how you came to where you are today – a personal chef, cooking instructor, and a TV/media personality?
Maybe because my family ran a catering business and since I was born I’ve been familiar with kitchen activities and the culinary business. They also used to have a restaurant. Other than that, in elementary school for Independence Day, I joined a competition in school and I cooked chicken soup and I won! Ever since I saw the expression of people eating my food, I was hooked. I decided I love cooking, and I love to see that expression. From then on, I started to bake and sold brownies and cupcakes.
After high school, I decided to study pastry and baking at Shatec [Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre]. I also worked in several hotels and restaurants including The Fullerton and The Hyatt. My mom asked me to come home because she missed me. But I found that my professional life in Jakarta wasn’t going that well. I tried getting jobs in hotels, but looking at the salary base and the fact that people in Indonesia didn’t really appreciate my profession, I started to think that maybe there was another way to make a living.
I met Arimbi, a lifestyle-business owner, and we started to talk, and she said, “Why don’t you teach?” and that’s when I realised I love with sharing my knowledge and my love of cooking. I also worked at Metro TV as a travel journalist, and I found that was is fun to work on TV, it was another way to share my knowledge to an even wider audiences.
I had a TV cooking show with Kompas TV and now there are a few things in the works. Every time I get an opportunity to make a cooking show, I get excited to do it. It’s my opportunity to share.
What is a personal chef?
A personal or private chef can cater whatever you want. Everything is made to order or customised. Usually we meet up and chat and you tell me about your favorite ingredients or stuff, what you are allergic to, how many guests you will have, and from there we can create a menu. I can either come and cook in your home, or prepare the food and present it in your home. I have a minimum requirement of 10 people and maximum of 25, but for cocktail menus, we can serve up to 100.
With all the new restaurants popping up all over Jakarta, there must be many opportunities for you to work in a formal kitchen, why have you chosen to teach and be a personal chef?
During the time I worked at those five-star, five-star-plus and diamond hotels, I learned that the staff does the same things every day. There is a standard recipe, a standard menu, a standard buffet, so they do the same thing every day, then do it all over again. And I get really bored easily. As a personal chef, everything is made-to-order, it’s customised and we hardly do the same menu for each client. That’s what excites me, and I don’t get bored!
When I do a cooking show, I have to always think of something new, a new recipe, a new technique, something fun to watch. Same with the private dining and the classes, I also do a variety of recipes.
What does your weekly schedule usually look like?
My schedule is very random. One day I’m here, one day I’m in Bali, one day I’m in Surabaya because as personal chef I do cooking demos, cooking classes, and private dining. But everything I do is in a kitchen.
You do a lot of twists on Indonesian recipes, what is the inspiration behind that?
What I see in Indonesia is that we have a lot of varieties of food and everything is delicious, but for most of the chefs, we go abroad to study. So what we are taught are western techniques using western ingredients, and people usually do what they know.
I’ve talked a lot with one of my inspirations, William Wongso, bapak kuliner Indonesia [father of Indonesian cooking]. He encouraged me to do more Indonesian desserts. My mom does a lot of Indonesian cooking and our family business is known for the best Sundanese cuisine in town. I started digging through all the Indonesian ingredients and thinking about what I can do with them, then experimenting with them. Our spices, vanilla, cinnamon, a lot of our produce here is the best, but a lot of chefs don’t really realize that. I just want Indonesian heritage to be known worldwide.
Outside of cooking, what do you do for fun?
I love to travel! Sometimes I think I just want a lot of money so I can travel the world! My husband also loves to travel, so every year we plan on a dream destination so we have something to work towards. We just travel anywhere, any kind of travel. I love beaches because I do diving. We love trying every restaurant we find while on vacation too. It excites me to try food from all over the world!
What are a couple of your favourite destinations?
If you say local, one of my favorite parts of Indonesia is Flores. It’s to die for. I just love it: the scenery, the beaches, the villages, the people, everything. If people ask and it’s their first experience travelling in Indonesia, go to Bali, and if you’re finished with Bali, you go to Lombok, you go to the Gilis, and if you’re finished with that, you go to Nusa Tengarra Timur.
Globally, let’s see … maybe because I’m a pastry chef, France is the best, like Paris. Last year, we just spent a whole month there and it was not enough. There is a lot to digest, all the pastry shops, all the chocolate shops, and all the experiences.
You are not only an amazing chef, but also have amazing style. What are some of your favorite brands?
I don’t really go for any particular brands. Normally, I choose what I like in terms of design and quality. But lately, I try to use more local products like Tulisan, Klé, and Naima shoes, their sandals are very comfortable. I find a lot of products at The Goods Dept. and sometimes Debenhams. In terms of accessories, I get some stuff from Bali, but it really depends on what I see.
Last question: you’re always wearing an awesome statement lipstick, what colours do you like?
Ok, let’s us talk about it! I’m wearing Nars Schiap. But I also use MAC’s Ruby Woo, it’s a very nice red. Oh! I’m obsessed with the Rouge Edition Velvet from Bourgeois. I just started wearing lipstick a year ago. At the beginning, I didn’t use red because I felt that I had big lips. In my mind, I thought my lips are too big for red and if I use it people will only see my lips and not the rest of my face. But I used it on my TV show once and now people don’t recognized me without lipstick!