Remi Martinazzo: Exploring Indonesian Flavors

Remi Martinazzo, Executive Pastry Chef at Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta, shares with us his love for exploring ingredients and flavors, especially in his new home.

Remi Martinazzo, Executive Pastry Chef at Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta, shares with us his love for exploring ingredients and flavors, especially in his new home.

CHEF REMI has more than 18 years of experience under his belt and he is always eager to explore and sharpen his craft.

Remi has only been in Jakarta for seven months and every day he makes new discovery from the plethora of Indonesian tropical treasure.

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His eyes lights up every time he spoke about his latest discovery, be it ingredients like fruit and plants, or food like Indonesian street food and snacks.

Remi’s excitement could be humbling for those who have lived among these tropical gems for years (or since birth like I do) and take them for granted.

“For example, I did not know the pandan leaves before. Here, it is used very extensively, especially in sweet dish. I also discover the jackfruit and it’s really wonderful,” Remi said.

From these new and delicious encounters, Remi created the Exotic Coconut Cake, a rich cake with refreshing compote of pineapple, jackfruit and mango, coconut mousse infused with pandan leaves and crunchy coconut sponge.

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“This sphere-shaped cake is a modern twist on the jajanan pasar. I tried a lot jajanan pasar when I arrived.

“The Exotic Coconut Cake is my attempt to make a contact with the Indonesian people. This is my introduction to Indonesia and the people,” he said smiling ear to ear.

The cake is part of The Mandarin Cake Shop’s Spring/Summer cake collection.

The collection also includes: Layered Raspberry and Lemon Cake, a sponge cake with raspberry coulis and lemon cream, pistachio and fresh raspberries; Salted Caramel Peanut and Chocolate Fudge, a concoction of hazelnut sponge, soft salted caramel, roasted peanuts and milk chocolate mousse; and Red Velvet Dome, a new spin on a classic recipe with a red velvet sponge, vanilla cream cheese and raspberry coulis in a red and white chocolate sphere.

“The raspberry and lemon cake is about bringing the Western flavor. I’m keeping the true taste of raspberry and lemon, so it is not to sweet. Sweetness can overpower the flavor,” he said.

Sour notes take Remi back to his earliest food memory: the rhubarb tart. “My grandfather had a little pastry shop just outside Paris. When I was a kid, we would go there for meals. He use the rhubarb from his garden.”

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“The rhubarb tart stuck out because I remember it was very, very sour the first time I tasted it. I remember complaining, as kids do, for sweeter dish. But my grandfather would say ‘no, this is how it’s supposed to taste’.”

Staying true to the ingredients’ flavor and the seasonal changes as well locality stayed with him when Remi started his career by being an apprentice at a small pastry shop in Paris at the age of 16.

Two years later he was very happy to be able to take apprenticeship under the esteemed and honored chef Frédéric Cassel at his shop in Fontainebleau in Paris.

“Chef Cassel is my apprenticeship master, he is my mentor. He shaped my knowledge and attitude, how to use the seasonal ingredients, using the same ingredient year after year but making something different every time. He gave me a lot of opportunity,” Remi said.

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After nine years with Chef Cassel, Remi decided he wanted to get more exposure and then went to London. There he had the opportunities of working with big names such as Helene Darroze and Johannes Bonin and working for respected establishments including the two-Michelin star restaurant Sketch.

“I feel very lucky to be able to work and learn from these strong and passionate chefs,” Remi reflected.

Exploring the taste trove of Indonesia and creating inspired dishes will be Remi’s direction forward. Already preparing for the next collections, Remi said that he and his team were looking into the range of Indonesian grain and fruit desserts.

Like using local and seasonal ingredients, Remi is all about keeping things fresh.

“We can’t pretend to know everything, we can’t create new dish. I don’t want to create a new dish, but I want to create a new variation of dishes. It’s a personal pursuit for me.”


Written by Andre Arditya Photographs by Dennie Ramon September 15, 2016.

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