Tony Stanton caught up with celebrity chef Farah Quinn between her jaunts around the world to talk golf, old age, and Indonesia’s favourite sweets.
Photography: Ryerson Anselmo For Costes Portrait
Styling: Angie Angorro
Hair & Makeup: Redy & Ruben, Rob Peetoom Hair Spa Bali
Shot On Location At The Apurva Kempinski Bali
Farah Quinn, Indonesia’s beloved kitchen goddess – what the hell have you been up to since we last spoke?
I’ve been doing so many things and been in so many different places. I’ve been travelling a lot and there are some exciting new projects coming up. London for meetings and for fun and now I’m about to leave for New Zealand and Australia. I’m still doing the roadshows for the products I endorse.
You seem to have a special place in the hearts of Indonesia’s TV watching public, why is that do you think?
Well, I’m very flattered. I think it’s because of the way I deliver how I make food. I keep it very simple and I make viewers feel like they are at home with me. My YouTube Channel is getting a lot of views and I think partially that’s because the recipes that I do are also really easy to follow.
What does a chef eat when she’s got no time and is too busy to bother with anything complicated?
When I’m at home I eat a lot of raw food. I love my vegetables, my salads, I can’t get enough of salad. When I have family or friends over that’s when I put in a lot of effort to my cooking. Of course I also cook for my kids.
And what does she cook for that someone special in her life?
Hmm I like to cook comfort food but with a healthy twist. I don’t deep fry anything, especially for people I love. I spent much of my childhood growing up in Sumatra and then later in America, so those two cuisines are the ones I cook most at home.
Type 2 Diabetes is a big problem in Indonesia, how do you change eating habits here for the better, especially among parents with young children?
During my roadshows I always talk to my audience about why kids love vegetables. You have to start from a very young age and avoid processed food or porridge as their first bite. I always encourage parents to make their own vegetable and fruit purees for their babies so that by the time they grow they are used to all natural flavours. I also talk about ways to make baking healthier. It’s good to substitute refined sugar with something that is more natural like gula jawa and brown sugar. Those things are so much better for you – or use honey or just cut down on the sugar. If you follow a recipe just reduce the sugar and see how it is. My passion, my heart, has always been in sweets but I also think about looking after myself.
Plum satin silk dress by Lily Jean.What is your schedule looking like for the next six months?
For the next three months my schedule is a bit crazy. I’ll be traveling a lot because it’s the end of the year; for Christmas and New Year I am always off somewhere and I like to focus on my family during that time. After New Year I start to gear up for work. We’re currently negotiating with a few different companies and networks for some really exciting new projects.
How is your golf game coming along?
My golf game has improved so much! I stopped playing for a while because I wanted to focus on just being a mother but now I’m back again in the game and have been practicing. Because I travel so much it’s quite hard to schedule a game but I try to go to the range with my coach or wake up super early and play a full round of golf then continue with my super busy day. So that’s some dedication right there!
What one thing could you not do without in your kitchen?
I cannot live without my KitchenAid. It’s a mixer I use a lot. Honestly it’s a bit overworked as I whip and mix everything.
And what one ingredient?
I would say flaky sea salt because that is the one ingredient I use the most.
Where do you find your strength and will to succeed in life, and what advice would you give to someone looking to become a celebrity chef?
I think it’s important to know what you want, and to have discipline and focus. If you want to become a celebrity chef know that I started from the very, very bottom. So don’t think that everything is glamorous. I started by paying for my own school, working two jobs . . .
After I finished school I did an internship full time and then I worked a second job to make ends meet. I always knew what I wanted and stayed focused and pretty much went after it. That got me to where I am now.
Are you involved in any charity work?
I donate regularly to the orphanage in town. I love children so much and it makes me happy when I am surrounded by them and hear their giggles and laughs and see them happy. Also my friend’s son started a charity in Georgia, it’s a beautiful project, he started building a better place for disabled people and I have been involved in that, I have donated and promote the charity to create awareness. Each time there is a request to me from a charity for some sort of contribution such as a personal appearance, dinners etc, I always do my best to be there.
Do you practice any particular way to stay positive?
Yes, you have to be grateful. Whatever ups and downs you have in your life you must always think about being grateful for everything you have. For example, each time I look at my kids it gives me
a purpose, they are the ones that give me a reason to be positive. I know I have a big responsibility in raising them.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years’ time?
More relaxed! I would like to dedicate more time to my family, my loved ones, although I will probably still be travelling the world. But I’d like to just spend time making kue lapis at home, it’s something that I can’t really do these days as it takes so long to make. And then still playing golf. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a single handicapper by then.
What’s next for Farah Quinn?
The best is yet to come! Although I can’t say anything about it yet, there are several very exciting projects in the mix. Some are going to be really big projects. Of course food and Indonesian culture will be the main ingredients.
Safe travels Farah Quinn.