Interview: Ray Adriansah, Chef of Locavore About Culinary Tourism in Indonesia

Ray Adriansyah, Chef for Locavore, Bali

Is there a true policy to promote Indonesian gastronomy and culinary tourism ? Ray Adriansah, one of Indonesia’s best known chefs with its restaurant, Locavore, believes that more could be done. Locavore, located in Ubud, Bali, is the only restaurant in Indonesia to have been distinguished among Asia’s Top 50 Best Restaurants 2017. The restaurant finished n° 22, a jump of 27 ranks compared to 2016.

 

Do you believe that Indonesian cuisine is a major element of the country’s attraction for travellers?

Ray Adriansah-Indonesia cuisine is known but not enough known to be turned so far into an attractive destination for gastronomy tourism. There is one iconic dish that any tourist know: nasi goreng (fried rice). However even the variety of this well-known dish is totally ignored by most travellers. For example in Sumatra we use more curries while in Java, you can feel the influence of Chinese in this national dish…

How would you explain that travellers have little knowledge for Indonesian food so far?

R. A.- I believe they are a few factors which do not help to the promotion of our cuisine. There is first a “comfort zone” effect for many visitors. They feel ok to just try something they heard of -such as nasi goreng- or to keep with food they are used to, from junk food to usual international dish such as pizza, pasta, steaks etc, etc…

Then, I see a hygiene problem. I believe that street food for example in Indonesia does not follow hygienic standards as many tourists know. This refrains of course tourists to try local delicacies as they fear to turn sick. We Indonesians should pay more attention to foreign sensibilities over hygiene. We are used to eat sometimes in not so pristine places but tourists are not. We must then adapt!

And third, I believe many people do not know where to go to have a great culinary experience. And then we come more to the promotional and marketing side of gastronomy in Indonesia, which to my opinion needs to be improved.

To your opinion, does Indonesia lack promotional skills to highlight food tourism?

R.A.- I heard the government with the Ministry of Tourism is looking to be more active but I must confess that, so far, I did not see personally any tangible effort. We could definitely do more to promote our various cuisines and our flavours. It could also come from private initiatives and also from our farmers. They represent a crucial element of our gastronomy culture. And finally to provide cooking schools to local and tourists would help to develop this pride of using top quality products and be more daring by proposing regional dishes.

What could do chefs like you or private partners to promote more gastronomy?

R.A.- Well, we could first work on regional cuisine by promoting for example each month a region of Indonesia and its specialties. And of course, the government should look at giving pride to people and help them highlighting places where tourists might try local specialties. I heard tourists complaining not to be able to find Batak or Balinese specialties as they do not know where to go. I think we must all think about that issue…

What is your personal contribution to Indonesian cuisine promotion?

R.A.- In our restaurant in Bali, we first only use fresh ingredients from all the provinces from Indonesia. This is our way to promote the quality of our agriculture. For example at Locavore, we work with half a dozen of producers and farmers that our customers can track and learn to know as they are on our website. We practice modern contemporary cuisine, blending flavours with a definitive Indonesian touch that should entice our visitors to further explore Indonesian spices, flavours and dishes…