Concocting Indonesian Culinary Stories a la Kevindra Soemantri

Kevindra Soemantri is known as a culinary writer and restaurant critic who has been in the culinary world for a long time since 2014.

In addition, Kevindra has also given birth to several books. Two of his most popular books include: The Art of Restaurant Review and Jakarta: A Dining History. In fact, his name appears in several international publications, such as Bon Appetit, Serious Eatsuntil The New York Times.

Now, Kevindra is again a part of one of the program events IDN Times, Lombok Writers Festival which will be held on 9-10 March 2022. He shares his stories, tips, and experiences as a culinary writer.

So, what’s the fun in that? What interesting knowledge does Kevindra share? Launching from YouTube IDN Timessee more information below!

1. Why is food writing important?

Concocting Indonesian Culinary Stories a la Kevindra SoemantriOne of the books by Kevindra Soemantri, Jakarta: A Dining History (

Writing food is important, because many people are not connected with food in their area. Interestingly, being a food writer is our way of preserving the local culinary culture.

For example, find out the raw materials that are famous in the area where you live. In addition, you can search for legendary places to eat, then write about these places to eat.

If this culinary writing did not exist, then many people would not know a food. From writing culinary arts, you will also learn the history of how food was created.

2. Being a culinary writer is fun

Concocting Indonesian Culinary Stories a la Kevindra SoemantriKevindra Soemantri and his book The Art of Restaurant Review (

Based on Kevindra’s experience, who has been writing culinary arts since 2014, he stated that culinary writers are fun. “Because of that, I had the opportunity to go to Switzerland, Australia, to Tokyo thanks to writing about food,” he said.

Besides being able traveling and tasting various types of food in the world, you as a culinary writer can also have the opportunity of various cultures. It can be a great opportunity for those of us who want to become culinary writers.

3. How to become a culinary writer for beginners

Concocting Indonesian Culinary Stories a la Kevindra SoemantriKevindra Soemantri, Indonesian Culinary Writer (

Being a culinary writer does not have to try food first. Especially for beginners, you can search for data, read articles, or interview someone. However, the results will not be as strong as when you taste the food directly.

Kevindra also shares tips so that we don’t feel burdened with culinary writing. One of them is by just focusing on writing food that we understand. “When the opportunity comes, we can explore other foods, that’s where we will be rich in a taste encyclopedia,” he said.

However, a food can not be used as a reference. It’s best if you need to taste the same food, but that someone else is cooking.

4. Collect various writing references

Concocting Indonesian Culinary Stories a la Kevindra SoemantriIllustration of collecting writing references (

When you are limited with references to food, what you can do is look at references from trusted sources. In addition, you can also see from videos on YouTube published by credible institutions.

Kevindra said that today’s era is made easier with digitization, because you can find information anywhere. Unlike him who used to have to do research for five years to make a book Jakarta: A Dining History.

In fact, he had to look at the Dutch archives for reliable references. He also said that looking for writing references is like the cooking process. Writing, he said, is like cooking, we start by gathering the ingredients. “However, the taste can be good or bad,” he said.

5. Look for valid data sources

Concocting Indonesian Culinary Stories a la Kevindra SoemantriIllustration of searching for data on the internet (

Culinary writing is divided into four types, namely recipes, literature, academics, and guides. Just like journalistic ethics by prioritizing the right data, avoid writing invalid data.

For example, if you want to review a place to eat, you need to think about whether this article will be made based on personal references, whether it can offend the owner, and so on.

In addition, Kevindra also provides interesting tips regarding data retrieval. “Write down all the topics that we want to bring up, then collect them, or ask people who know about these foods,” he explained.

The reason is, if it is not valid, it can provide wrong information. If you want to write an opinion article, then explain in the article that your writing is based on personal opinion.

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6. How to maintain a food recipe culture

Concocting Indonesian Culinary Stories a la Kevindra SoemantriIllustration of maranggi satay (

One of the reasons why recipes are becoming extinct is that more and more people are reluctant to cook. Because usually the recipe comes from the ancestors, down to the mother, then down again to the next generation.

One way that might be done is to take notes. In addition, you can also buy traditional food. If there are no consumers who buy traditional food, the longer the seller will disappear.

However, as a writer, you can note interesting ideas. For example, interesting facts about places to eat. You can also collect stories from people around you or ask family members who like to cook.

Also Read: Street Food Places in Jakarta, Delicious and Unique in the style of Kevindra Soemantri

7. Reviewing food is objective

Concocting Indonesian Culinary Stories a la Kevindra SoemantriFood illustration (

To become a food writer, you must review it objectively. Kevindra shared his experience about finding out about the taste of a dish at a restaurant.

Every time he goes to a place to eat, he always finds out from the owner or the waiter. For example, we usually order sweet and spicy grilled chicken, but this place tastes different. Then we asked what spices to use or the recipe, he said.

This method is considered more objective. Because the taste of food is a matter of preference. However, if you just use personal preference, then it can be a problem.

Better to ask directly to the person who prepares the food. Because your writing can affect a business. If you are not careful, it can have a bad impact on the efforts of others. It is recommended to write constructive criticism.

8. Get to know culinary through gastrodiplomacy

Concocting Indonesian Culinary Stories a la Kevindra SoemantriIllustration of Korean food (

Talking about gastrodiplomacy, this can be an inspiration for us. Gastrodiplomacy is part of public diplomacy by introducing a country’s culinary culture.

For example, like Korea which applies gastrodiplomacy through Korean dramas. As a result, when watching it, most people will feel interested in trying the food.

This should be an inspiration for Indonesian citizens. Because several countries in the world have done this interesting way.

9. How to interpret taste into characters

Concocting Indonesian Culinary Stories a la Kevindra SoemantriIllustration of writing (

There are several ways of interpreting taste into characters. One of the interesting things he shared was about the beginnings of being a culinary writer.

When he started his career in the culinary field, he met Pak Bondan Winarno, an Indonesian culinary expert. Before he died, Kevindra gained a lot of knowledge through culinary conversations.

Not only that, he also approached Laksmi Pamuntjak, a film writer Aruna and her tongue. Through conversations with Laksmi, he explores the do’s and don’ts of culinary writing, to see the development of people’s tastes.

This became a reference for him while on duty. After a routine is done, it will become a personal principle, and will finally understand what type of writing is suitable for telling a food story.

10. Tips for confident writing

Concocting Indonesian Culinary Stories a la Kevindra SoemantriIllustration of writing (

The problem of almost all writers is a matter of self-confidence. Everyone has different causes, ranging from lack of culinary vocabulary or how to write diction.

The solution, you can enrich literacy by reading other people’s articles. Because when you write, you bring out everything you already know.

So, you will be more confident to write anything. It will also train vocabulary, sharpness of thinking, and see other points of view, which ultimately builds self-confidence. The point is to enrich written references.

Well, that’s a few things about the culinary story of the archipelago in the style of Kevindra Soemantri. From this information, we can gain new knowledge about culinary writing. Do not forget subscribe and watch various interesting videos on YouTube IDN Times yes!

Read also: Kevindra Soemantri’s story of becoming an independent food writer