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The tasty dishes served up during the Bango Penerus Warisan Kuliner (PWK) 2018 endured a long journey from mere ingredients to the time they were presented to the judges. The ingredients had to be properly prepared and seasoned, then cooked to perfection and plated in a truly appetising manner. What made it even more challenging was that everything had to be done in under one hour! It was this excitement that filled the air when the competitors of Bango Penerus Warisan Kuliner Competition 2018 displayed their skills, creativity and culinary touch in Almond Zucchini, Jakarta on April 3, 2018.

On the morning of the competition, the 22 competitors were divided into three groups based on the dishes they intended to cook. The competitors were already feeling the jitters even before the cook-off started. 


Diversity all around

Nervous tension appeared on the faces of some of these competitors from Riau, Bandar Lampung, Bandung, Jakarta, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Solo, Surabaya, and Manado. Although they arrived in Jakarta happily, their excited expressions quickly turned serious when the competition kicked off. No wonder, since several contenders admitted that it was their first time taking part in such a competition. “We were really surprised to be chosen as the finalists over more than seven thousand competitors. But it’s our first experience, so we will do our best even if the result may not be ideal,” admitted Ratna Dewi, who cooked up a black noodle dish. 
 

 

Every finalist differed in terms of experience and background. While some had only opened one restaurant, such as Ayam Bakar Rood Foodie, others came from famous establishments, such as Gado-gado Arjuna (which has been around since 1970s), Kepala Ikan Manyung Bu Fat (founded in 1960s), and Sate Kardjan from 1925! 

Even the dishes varied. Unusual ingredients such as snails were served up by Karunia Bumbu Pawon Lamongan, while others, like Pondok Makan Bu Is, featured eel in their dish. A handful of restaurants prepared well-known fare including pempek, bakmi jawa, ayam bakar madu, mie ayam, soto, and tongseng. 

It was this diversity that made the Bango PWK 2018 competition feel different compared to other competitions. “We wanted to lift the national culinary heritage without peering at the competitors’ background. So, whether it is an established restaurant or a middle-class food shop, so long as their dishes were unique and well-liked, they had the right to join this competition,” explained Gemita Pasaribu, Head of Marketing Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) Indonesia. 


One hour to create a lasting impression

Since the time given for preparation was limited, finalists had to be smart about how they used the 60 minutes given to them. Several were rushing to complete their tasks because they had to prepare the dishes while also having to cut fruits for decoration. There were also those who constantly glanced at the clock because they felt the pressure of time sneaking up on them. 
 


The judges often walked around to inspect the cooking process of each contestant. The judging panel consisted of Moch Basirun, National Sales Manager UFS; Chef Gungun Handayana, Executive Chef UFS; Sisca Soewitomo, Indonesian culinary expert; Senen, owner of Sate dan Tongseng Pak Budi; and Mohammad Amin, Head of the Education Sub-directorate of the Indonesian Agency Creative Economy (BEKRAF). Competitors could be seen wiping the sweat off their brows, especially when the judges started asking questions. Either the heat of the stove or the heat of the competition got to them.  
 


The last ten minutes witnessed the most struggle. Contestants dashed about in a last-minute attempt to finalise their dishes. A few were busy tasting their dish to check if the flavours balanced nicely. Upon realising the clock was ticking closer to the deadline, they tried their best to complete plating and decoration.

However, the stir did not stop there. Contestants had to present their dishes to the judges who tasted each dish one by one. The distance from the cooking area on the first floor and the judgement area on the second floor made those who had to wait even more nervous. The waiting room was filled with anxious faces. “Even so, we are proud to be here. No matter what, we have tried our best,” said Budi Seputro from Sate Ratu who present the sate merah (red satay) dish.  


Everyone’s a winner

The next day during the announcement of winners, all the competitors showed up with smiles on their faces. Jokes and laughs broke the ice among them but there was no hiding the curiousity when they saw the wall of fame, and the covered photos of the winners. Some competitors wanted to see what was behind the fabric. “Please wait until the announcement, Ma’am,” said one member of the committee. 
 


“I give in. To be able to compete in the finals is a victory already,” said Indra who cooked up a catfish tongseng dish. True enough, this was emphasised by Chef Gungun when he explained how the dishes were graded. “The point is, those who are here are the best. And we have to admit it is difficult to pick five winners among you because every single dish was delicious.”

At the climax of the event, ten competitors were invited to step up front. Five of them were picked as the winners of Bango PWK 2018 and were rewarded with 100 million rupiah plus the opportunity to participate in Festival Jajanan Bango 2018. The proud winners were Pempek Ny. Kamto, Ayam Goreng Madu Si Bangkong, Ayam Bakar RoodFoodie, Tongseng Iga Dapur Jawa Perawang, and Kepala Manyung Bu Fat.

“The certificate and trophy is going to be displayed in my restaurant!” said Bekti as she could not hide her joy. Meanwhile, Rudie said that he wished to use the prize to develop his restaurant. Fajar shared similar sentiments, saying, “With the help of the franchise system, I will expand my business in Si Bangkong chicken.”

“I present this trophy to all employees and loyal customers of Pempek Ny. Kamto,” said Wiliana happily. Victoria was also merry. She admitted to having a goal of opening branches in the Riau province. “This is a step forward. Thanks to Bango, my dream is a step closer to reality!”

Do you want to feel the excitement and realize your dream of bringing Indonesian cuisine to greater fame in the world? Wait for us in Bango PWK in the following years. Who knows, it may be your turn next year to become the Champion of Bango PWK 2019! 


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