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Leading Ladies of The Food World:
Dr. Debryna Dewi Lumanauw

Leading Ladies of The Food World:
Dr. Debryna Dewi Lumanauw

Auli Cinantya
09 March 2023

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Dr. Debryna Dewi shares her passion for cooking and baking and her approach to tackling the challenges she faces as a woman in the workplace.

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Dr. Debryna Dewi Lumanauw never imagined that her first pre-order for a small gathering of 20 people would open up a whole new world for her as a baker in addition to her career as a doctor. What started as a mere curiosity and a way to face new challenges led her to explore a different side of herself.

“I don’t know what my turning point was. However, my shop started with a tiny circle of people who came to an event hosted by William Wongso. It began with only one WhatsApp group of around 15 to 20 people,” Debryna admits that her baking journey began out of curiosity.

“When I started making bread, I kept failing. For example, I made it ten times, and ten times it failed, hahaha. So at first, it was because I felt challenged, and I kept making bread to try to overcome those challenges, but I guess when people saw me making bread, they must have thought, ‘oh, Debryna likes to bake.'”

Initially, Debryna had never considered selling her baked goods. She candidly shared that although she enjoyed experimenting with unconventional recipes and relished the flavors, she was still determining if others would share her taste. Therefore, she never envisioned marketing her creations to the public.

In 2019, Debryna gained confidence in presenting her baking craft, and her small WhatsApp group began to grow and expand. Over the past few years, her reputation as a skilled baker has spread far and wide, leading to collaborations with renowned chefs, famous brands, and popular restaurants.

When Debryna first started learning to bake, she looked up to Nancy Silverton as one of her role models. She admired Silverton’s expertise in baking and knew many of the basic techniques and skills from her. Debryna also appreciated Silverton’s humorous and entertaining personality, which made learning from her even more enjoyable. Overall, Nancy Silverton played an essential role in inspiring Debryna to pursue her passion for baking.

“Baking is quite hard. Honestly, I like cooking more than baking, hahaha,” she confessed. “It’s not as easy as just cooking like that. So actually, I love doing so much more than just baking, but I faced many challenges when I started making bread.” She expresses her love for challenges, finding them enjoyable. However, she acknowledges that not all challenges are pleasurable, particularly those arising due to her gender.

“Of course, as a doctor, especially one specializing in disaster relief, there are prevalent stereotypes, particularly concerning gender. For example, in a disaster situation, people assume that male doctors are more suitable due to their physical strength. I have experienced this many times in the field, where male crew members would discourage me from working too hard just because I am a woman. It has even led to situations where nurses, who are male, are chosen over female doctors. Unfortunately, this kind of gender-based discrimination is common in my field of work, especially in Indonesia, where decisions are made not based on qualifications but on gender.”

Despite facing these challenges, Debryna has learned not to let them bring her down. “Oh, if someone tries to undermine me, I won’t let it get to me. Because I know it’s not true. I know we are so much better at handling pressure,” she says. She believes that in any situation where someone tries to bring you down, they are just afraid of you. Debryna admits that gender-based discrimination is common in many industries, but she refuses to let it affect her.

“We, as women, are special and different. We can handle pressure better, prioritize better, and are more adept at multitasking. Yes, we are emotional, and I know that this can have drawbacks, but in my work as a doctor and a baker, putting emotion into our work actually makes it better. The food tastes better, and my relationship with my patients is stronger. That’s just how it is,” she proudly exclaimed.

Debryna strongly believes that women have unique skill sets vital in the medical and culinary industries. As a doctor and a baker, she has found that her emotional connection to her work has allowed her to excel in her professions. Furthermore, she hopes to see more female figures in the cooking industry, as she believes they will significantly impact Indonesian gastronomy.

“I believe that in the next three or four years, there will be many more strong female figures in the industry. I have some amazing female friends who just need the opportunity to shine in the cooking industry here in Indonesia. I really hope that these female figures in the cooking industry will make a difference in Indonesian gastronomy,” she added.

Debryna’s story is a true testament to the power of passion and hard work. From starting medical school at the age of 16 with little knowledge of what being a doctor entailed, she has become a field medicine enthusiast, a volunteer doctor, and an avid fundraiser who has raised millions of rupiah for NGOs dealing with various health issues. Moreover, her love for baking has opened up a whole new world for her. Despite facing challenges, Debryna has proven her strength to move forward and improve at what she does. As Debryna continues to impact the medical field and the culinary industry positively, her inspiring journey serves as a reminder to pursue one’s passions with dedication and determination.

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