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Yoel Natanael, The Hands of Gold Behind BRAUD Cafe

Yoel Natanael, The Hands of Gold Behind BRAUD Cafe

Auli Cinantya
30 July 2022

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Pursuing his passion for cooking and baking, Yoel's journey has given him a lot of experience and knowledge which he pours all to develop BRAUD Cafe.

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Yoel Nathanael Wijaya has found his passion in the kitchen since he was little. He decided to pursue his passion, and just like love at first sight, the first time he arrived in the cold kitchen, he decided, “This is going to be what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.” 

After training under talented chefs and honing his skill in the pastry world, he decided to come back to Bali. What was once just a micro bakery in the back of his house, BRAUD Cafe opened its doors in 2020 as an extended expression of BRAUD Artisan Bakery. 

As much as Yoel is passionate about baking, he is also a visionary. With the help of his wife, the small cafe will take you on a little journey of baking wonderland. The front store showcases how the bakers develop their bread and pastries, while when you first open the cafe, the smell of freshly baked goods greets you like a breeze of warm air. 

How did you find your passion for baking? 

It all started when I was in junior high school. My mom has a small warung, and I was curious about cooking – after looking at what goes on in the kitchen. And one day, I tried to make my own dish; it was fried rice. I found joy and excitement when I was cooking. 

I went to a Hospitality college where I got to take an internship in Bvlgari Hotel Resort in Bali; the first two months gave me quite a shock therapy,, hahaha. It was a bit different from what I learned in school, and being in the hot kitchen, things paced quickly. I tried to adapt. I tried to learn as fast as I could, as well as I could. So yeah, I began my whole career in a fine dining kitchen. 

After two months had passed, I’ve given a choice to choose where do I want to learn, in butchery or pastry. And there I was choosing pastry, where I ended up enjoying myself. From the day-to-day work, the instructions, the recipe, the flow, and the pace of the work, I enjoyed it a lot. And so, at that time, I said to myself, “Okay, this is going to be my life from now on.” 

How did you start BRAUD? 

One day, I decided to change my path, I went back to Bali, and with the money I had, I started building a micro bakery – for my passion, you know, just to keep going. We have this empty space in my house that wasn’t used, so I decided to bake there. I still remember my determination from years ago that being a baker is going to be my life, so I purchased a few items needed to start the micro-bakery, and I brought my starter – from when I was in Dubai – back to life. And that’s how Braud Artisan Bakery was developed in 2014. 

What is the meaning behind the name “Braud”?

If you see our logo, there is a triangle; this symbol reflects that it is a house production, where everything is produced in-house. It’s a house production with very thick fundamentals, meaning we know what we do. When the pandemic hits, and we only do takeouts or deliveries, we also sell our house-made butter and house-made jams. 

What were the first baked goods you made? 

The first bread I made was back in Dubai, where I took an apprenticeship; it was the baguette. It is the most basic yet fundamental item you must master as a baker. It’s very complex; baguette, it’s not as simple as it seems, you need to have the right consistency, adjust your flour, the water temperature, and even the ph level of the water. If you master the art of making a baguette, you can do anything else in the bakery. 

What is the most challenging bread/pastry to make? How was your trial and error when you first created your pastry/bread for Braud? 

I would say plain croissant is the most challenging. You have to abode the same consistency every single day. When it comes to a wholesale bakery, you are required to have that steady hands and that level of muscle memory to create the same consistency in terms of shape, size, weight, and even the colors even textures every single time, so yeah, that’s the most challenging part. 

On top of that, you have to deal with such humidity and heat, so it’s a lot of things; there are a lot of things going on in one small croissant. So when the weather changes, we have to adjust again following the weather. For example, following the weather in Bali, we often adjust around two to three times per year. This is because the weather from January to April is different, and then when we get to December, it will also be different. We have to adjust accordingly to not just the weather but also the temperature outside. Later in November, it can rain sometimes, but when it’s hot, it’s scorching, so we need to adjust it since it pushes the fermentation level to a very aggressive point, so you need to adjust it.

What is the most essential element in your baked goods? 

Every baker has their own standard and preferences, and I know my stuff, and I know how to do it well, and I think people in Bali can easily recognize our baked goods. I’m very picky with my butter; that’s the secret. Some of my friends and fellow bakers know what I do; they even know the butter I use, and even I can tell which butter this bakery uses. That’s part of the experience, I think, and that is what makes it fun. I also love putting salt in dessert, it enhances the flavor, and it can become more flavorful in your palette. Butter, sugar, salt, that’s the key. Even I put salt in the cheesecake when it comes to pastry and dessert.

What is the most challenging thing throughout your career? 

Managing people is the most challenging. It is easy to create something in terms of product. But when it comes to people. Sometimes it could be quite the challenge. 

There’s been a lot of home bakers during the pandemic? What’s your opinion, and have you tried some? 

Yeah! They’re good! I don’t remember my favorite, but I can see, just from the picture, I can see it clearly; they made it correctly. I think these home bakers make a lot of people more familiar with these kinds of products. It helps the gap that has been going on for many years.

What are your goals for the future? 

I want my company, even the people around me be more conscious of what they do. I want to build a – I wouldn’t say an empire, I would say a collective fnb business that is very attached to design, to a good design, of course, to make something that can benefit the community. I don’t have any goals to create anything like a big chain, franchise, or anything. That’s the goal in terms of a business career

BRAUD® cafe

Jl. Mertanadi No.62, Kerobokan Kelod, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361

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