From the moment you enter The St. Regis Jakarta, you’ll be transported to a world of pure luxury and sophistication. The hotel’s stunning interiors feature sleek lines, high ceilings, and tasteful decorations that will surely leave you mesmerized.
The ambiance from The Drawing Room succesfuly captivated me. Located just a few steps from the hotel entrance, The Drawing Room is an elegant all-day lounge where guests can become part of The St. Regis tradition, such as afternoon tea and champagne sabrage.
As I settled in for the afternoon tea, I was delighted by the presentation of the exquisite treats. The Executive Pastry Chef Kevin Lee’s attention to detail was evident in every bite. Each pastry, sandwich, and scone exuded a unique flavor and texture that left me wanting more.
Before joining The St Regis Jakarta, Chef Kevin worked in several prestigious establishments worldwide. Upon arriving in Jakarta, Chef Kevin Lee seeks to elevate and bring out the best of the culinary potential in Indonesia, combining classic patisseries with a touch of Indonesian flavors.
“We have a lot of outlets with different concepts here. Therefore my creations will be different in every outlet,” said Chef Kevin. His approach to his creations is focused on the ingredients; by utilizing the natural sweetness of fruit, he offers a different kind of experience through his creations.
“I focus on a lot of ingredients, seasonality. I love creating desserts with the fruit of the seasons and making them part of the concept. There are a lot of trials of testing and combining ingredients to make creative desserts, as every dessert is unique and caters especially to that outlet.”
With more than 20 years of experience in the pastry world, Chef Kevin’s creations reflect the elegance and sophistication permeating The St. Regis Jakarta Hotel. He has taken classic pastries and given them a modern twist, using innovative techniques and unique flavor combinations.
He believes food should bring joy and happiness to those who consume it. He believes in using the freshest and the best ingredients to create something extraordinary, making each pastry an experience that will stay with the customer for a lifetime.
“I want to work more with more local products. In Indonesia, we have amazing fruits, herbs, and spices. We have good quality vanilla from Sulawesi; we also use locally sourced coffee from Sumatra, tea from Java, chocolate from various chocolate farms, and a lot of honey. In the long term, my goal is to set the best products for my desserts by visiting farms and taking the best products available in that area. I want to highlight these local products on my menu and use premium ingredients, supporting farmers and the local economy. I would be very proud to help highlight local food.”
Born and raised in France, his love of pastries started when he was young. He remembers feeling amazed at the sight of the bakeries on every road. It is a common occurrence when you are in France, but it never failed to captivate him every time he walked by. He was not only drawn to the pastries but also to the emotions of how these delicacies can influence people.
“When I see people happily eating their cakes or croissants, I felt like I wanted to try creating this happiness that people felt. Because I like to please people, I decided to pursue a career in culinary. And by the time I was in my culinary training program, I developed a passion, which has grown until today.” And ever since then, Chef Kevin began experimenting with recipes and flavors, trying to create something unique and special that would bring others joy.
“One of my creations that I’m proud of is the Pandan Lemon Grass Cake in the Rose Deli. It’s a technique I took from a classic western mousse recipe, but I incorporate local ingredients,” he continued. Through his words and soft-spoken demeanor, you could sense the deep passion and care he puts into every one of his creations. Just like his voice, his desserts are intricate and nuanced, crafted with a level of attention to detail.
“If you go to Rose Deli, you will see that there are some desserts that are a bit more technical and modern, and some that are very classic and authentic, like the chocolate cake with apricot jam, a classic tart, and the hazelnut tart, which is originally a recipe from Austria. At the end of the day, I do not want the desserts to be too technical.” Like his goal to create memories from his creation, Chef Kevin focuses on creating something that people will enjoy eating, even if it’s not a Michelin-star dish.
“Sometimes simplicity is the key, and I just now realized that this was probably influenced by the style of my mother and father,” he chuckled. Born in a multicultural house, his parents have different cooking approaches.
“My dad is originally from Hongkong and is an excellent cook. He often cooks Chinese food but can also cook Japanese or French food. Meanwhile, my mother’s cooking style is much simpler but still heartwarming.” As chef Kevin reminisced about his parent’s cooking, he realized what he does now and reflect on how both of his parents cooked for him.
“My dad is more technical, and my mom is more straightforward, so I think it reflects what I serve now.”
As I continue talking with Chef Kevin, his passion for pastries is evident in every conversation. “My philosophy revolves around three Hs – Heart, Head, and Hand. For pastry making, loving and being passionate about your work is crucial for creating not just a good but a better outcome. This is why ‘Heart’ is essential. ‘Head’ is necessary for planning, calculating, and visualizing the dessert’s concept, texture, taste, acidity, sweetness, and freshness. Finally, ‘Hand’ represents the technical skills, hand craftsmanship, and fearlessness required to bring the vision to life.”
As the interview with Chef Kevin Lee comes to a close, there is a palpable sense of inspiration in the air. Learning about his passion for pastry, his emphasis on using local ingredients, and his philosophy has left me with a newfound appreciation for patisseries. I can’t wait to try his afternoon tea and experience the magic he and his team have created at The St. Regis Jakarta. From the delicate flavors to the stunning presentation, it is clear that Chef Kevin Lee pours his heart and soul into every creation.