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Richie Pratadaja Shows the Wonders of Chocolate

Richie Pratadaja Shows the Wonders of Chocolate

Auli Cinantya
01 September 2022


From Arizona to Las Vegas to New York and now Jakarta, Chef, Restaurant-Owner, and Chocolatier Richie Pratadaja showcases his impressive chocolate creations.


“I have always been interested in art,” said Richie. Before deciding to change his career path, Richie was studying as an Industrial Designer; with his father being an architect, he grew up surrounded by books, and that’s where his love of art grew.

“I want to create things that can make people happy,” he explained. “Therefore, when I design something, and people are happy seeing it, it feels good. And then I found my calling in the pastry industry, which is chocolate.” 

Having been interested in culinary since he was young, Richie decided to change his career path and enroll in Le Corden Blue Arizona. While studying as a chef, he found his calling after a fateful encounter during his study, and he determines to be a chocolatier.

Finding his love of chocolate was like killing two birds with one stone. As a versatile product, he can express his passion for design and create products that can make people happy. Proving his skills, in 2017, he was awarded second place as the US Pastry Chef of The Year. 

After returning to Jakarta, he successfully opens his first-ever restaurant, Crio, to showcase his imposing chocolate creations. He admitted that building his career back from zero was a bit challenging, but he had a lot of fun experimenting with new creations with local fruits and herbs and re-kindle some of his favorite childhood food.

Can you tell us the start of your journey and how you became a chocolatier?

In the beginning, I was in the US to study Industrial Design, but I changed my mind. As I have liked to watch food channels ever since I was young, my curiosity grew, and I decided to pursue a study in culinary. I enrolled at Le Cordon Blue in Arizona, which has changed my life.

My friends asked me, ‘how did you become a chef?’ Honestly, I didn’t know how, hahaha. But I love it; it’s like a calling. I volunteered a lot when I was studying. I was assisting at the world pastry forum.

During those five days, I assisted a famous pastry chef, Stéphane Tréand. So, I helped him with all these chocolate sculptures and learned much during those five days with him.

I was mesmerized, I realized how fantastic chocolate is, and at that point, I already knew I wanted to be a chocolatier.

What inspired you to start working with chocolate? 
I think chocolate is a versatile ingredient because you can work with it in a solid or fluid form. In its liquid form, you can make sauce or mousse. But in its solid form, you can sculpt or carve it. 
Many people don’t like working with chocolate because it’s very temperamental with temperature and humidity levels.

Where do you find your inspiration to create your chocolates?
Inspiration comes everywhere, art, fashion, culture, etc. So you must get all your creativity from different sources to make something unique. 

What did you find the most challenging about being a chocolatier? 
At the time of my career, they are not many good chocolatiers in the US, or maybe because we don’t have access, not many people master chocolate. Perhaps it’s different when you grow up in Europe because the chocolate culture there is high, and so is the quality. 

But in the US back then, not many people were willing to do it because it’s not something easy to master. There are so many sciences behind it. 

Different choco beans have different characteristics. How can you tell when the chocolate is good or not? What are the standards? 
Good chocolate, for me, is something you like to use, so there are no criteria for when people eat it. Because I can say this chocolate is delicious, but when you eat it, you wouldn’t say the same. 

Professionally, there are many criteria for how to say it’s good chocolate. Good chocolate nowadays—we call it couverture—the ingredients are straightforward; cocoa mass, sugar, and cocoa butter. Many people add vanilla for flavoring or aroma, but the three main components are the most important.

And when you temper it the right way, it will make a pleasant snap sound when you split it. If it’s not, then you already know there are a lot of things wrong in the process of making that chocolate. 

Chocolate is almost similar to coffee beans; when they grow in a different set of plain, they will have different flavor profiles. Good quality chocolate comes from the ingredient itself and also the processing afterward. 

What is crucial when you make chocolate? 
To know the characteristics of chocolate and discipline. You must know precisely what you want to do, the tools you need, and execute it. Everything has to be at the right temperature – where you work on the chocolate itself. You can’t work with chocolate in a hot kitchen or where the humidity level is high because then you will never get the perfect shiny chocolate.

What is your favorite chocolate?
It’s tough to pick one. Because there are so many different kinds of chocolate, personally I like dark chocolate. You can taste the full flavor of the actual beans. Sometimes chocolate has a different flavor like coffee; there is one with floral notes or fruitiness. I like something balanced between acidity and the chocolate flavor but also has very floral notes; when you eat it, you can smell something very aromatic. 

How does it feel to work every day doing something you love? 
I never get tired of chocolate, and I think it’s a blessing. Not many people get a chance to find and do something they love and do it every day. For me, the only word to describe it is blessed. I’ve been in this industry for almost 15 years and enjoy every moment. 

What kind of local ingredients have you tried mixing with your chocolate? 
First, it was the passion fruit, so I made my bonbon’s passion fruit with black dots to represent the seeds, then yellow and orange colors as the actual pulp, and then purple as the skin. I’ve also been developing some chocolate with Keluwak and kecombrang. 

I love eating Nasi Rawon. So, I decided to try using Keluwak for my chocolate creations. I paired it with rosella jelly, yuzu, and black sesame. It’s enjoyable because there’s something that I haven’t explored yet. I felt excited, like a little kid at the candy store.

We grew up in Indonesia we are very accustomed to the Black Forest cake; that’s why I have a black forest bar here, to represent this is a flavor that I cherished from my childhood memories.


Jl. Teuku Cik Ditiro No.43, Menteng, Kec. Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10310

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