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What Foodies Eat: Mario Reynaldi

What Foodies Eat: Mario Reynaldi

Auli Cinantya
24 December 2023


Mario Reynaldi, the man behind the infamous Backdraft Project shares his favorite city to dine, top three dining destinations, and recent dining spots that have left him impressed.


Hailing from Bali, meet Mario Reynaldi, also known affectionately as Bang Iyo, the man behind the infamous Backdraft Project, Bang Iyo embarked on his creative journey as a wedding photographer, deftly capturing moments of love and joy. However, his lens extends beyond romantic unions, delving into the intricate tapestry of the F&B industry. Managing photo projects, engaging with prospective clients, and sharing moments with chefs constitute his daily rituals. Yet, his narrative takes a captivating turn with the inception of Backdraft Project. An exploration born out of experimentation, Backdraft weaves together the stories of those who orchestrate the symphony of flavours in kitchens often hidden from the public eye.

Through the lens of idealism, Bang Iyo found his canvas in the heart of these gastronomic sanctuaries, offering a unique perspective that transcends the ordinary. From its humble beginnings, this photographic journey unfolds, illustrating not just the artistry of cuisine but the narratives of those who craft it.

Hi! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your day-to-day activities.
I’m a wedding photographer who has extended my background into the F&B industry. My daily routine involves managing photo projects, meeting prospective clients, and hanging out with chefs.

How did the Backdraft Project come to be? 
Backdraft was born as an experimental project highlighting the people behind food and restaurants. As an idealistic photographer, I sought unique places not easily accessible to everyone, and the kitchen was the right choice.

What was the most challenging or interesting aspect you encountered during your work?
It was challenging initially to propose documenting restaurant kitchens during their rush hours to owners and chefs. The rush hour brings tension, but for me, the real moments are there!

What do you love the most about what you do? 
I love meeting people who appreciate my work, especially the kitchen staff. Not the high-level personnel because they love being in the frame and showcasing who they are on social media when they don’t have a proper picture.

What is your favourite type of cuisine, and what is the food that you love the most?
Indonesian food, especially those containing peanut sauce like satay, ketoprak, and siomay.

What is the most unforgettable food/drinks experience you have had?
When I was taking photos at August Restaurant and suddenly Chef Han & Pak Budi delivered three dishes to my table. As a non-foodie, I was amazed that food could be so delightful and elevate my experience.

Name one of your favourite cities to eat and tell us why.
Japan, because everything in Japan, from high-end restaurants to convenience stores, has great food and taste to consume.

What is your most recent dining destination that left a good impression? What was it that managed to impress you? Can you recommend to us what to get from that place? 
Silk Bistro, because ambiance and food are seamlessly connected. Recommendation food: Chicken Liver Pâté, Ox Tongue Noodle

Is there any food you can eat every day without getting bored? Do you have any place you frequently go to for it? 
Yes. Atlas Kitchen & Coffee, T&T Chindo’s Cuisine, Riung Rasa

Where do you usually hang out with friends or go for special occasions with family?
For weekend occasions with family, we usually go to Aburi Sushi because kids love Japanese food like sushi and sashimi.

What are your favourite local dishes, and where do you usually go to eat them? 
Nasi Banjar Mbok Mang, Nusa Dua

Where are your top three dining places always on your favourite list? And which food do you recommend getting at those places?

  • Atlas Kitchen & Coffee: Nyonya Prawn Noodle, Pork Belly Stir-fry with Leek, Kumquat Squash (must-try beverage!)
  • T&T Chindo’s Cuisine: Bakmi Komplit Jumbo
  • Riung Rasa: smoked & grill platter, nasi goreng brisket

Any upcoming projects we could look forward to? 
We are finally finishing our first short documentary about the other side of kitchen life and will have a movie screening next January 2024. This film involves five professional chefs with different style stories.

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