Stefu Santoso, Executive Chef of APREZ Catering and Amuz Group on what it takes to be a top chef

Being a leader, marketeer and entertainer is now part and parcel of being a successful modern chef says Chef Stefu Santoso, one of Indonesia’s best chefs and television personality. A sought-after speaker, trainer and judge for various culinary events, Chef Stefu is with APREZ Catering and Amuz Group.

Attributing “working smart, continuous learning and full commitment” as the secrets to his success, Chef Stefu believes being versatile is important to chefs due to intense competition in the F&B industry. “We need to be very flexible in order to ensure customer satisfaction. For me, a good Chef is not the Chef who can cook very well but someone who’s a good leader, marketeer and entertainer. Happy and satisfied customers will always remember us.”

He points out that “to become a good Chef means not only you can cook good food but also you need to have leadership, management and entertaining skills. Graduating from famous and reputable culinary schools is not a guarantee you will became a good chef. Industry experience and different processes along with total commitment are important when you enter the industry. A Chef’s life is hard so we need to work smart and never stop learning.”

Citing his uncle who influenced him to enter Tourism College and in becoming a chef, Chef Stefu says: “I decided to become a Chef during my on-the-job training in Jakarta. I was still in hotel school then but I learned a lot about food during the training and discovered the dynamics of kitchen operation. Every day I would go to different sections: Gardemanger, Entremetier, Saucier, Banquet, Pastry and Ala Carte to try some food. Learning to make the food was interesting and I felt excited when I tried one recipe and it tasted good.”

After starting out as a commis (helper) at the fourstar Menara Peninsula Hotel in Jakarta, Stefu was promoted to commis 1 after a two-year stint. His next career move took him to The Parklane Hotel Jakarta where he worked for ten years, climbing up the ranks to become its Executive Chef at the age of 32. He subsequently joined the AMUZ group in 2011.

Crediting his current boss, Chef Gilles Marx as his mentor and friend, Chef Stefu declares that “he has given me so much knowledge on how to become a good chef. We’ve been working together for almost 12 years now.”

The chef’s biggest achievement to date has been bringing the Indonesian team to the Bocuse D’or final in Lyon, France in 2011 − a first for Indonesia. Chef Stefu has also held the President post in the Association of Culinary Professionals Indonesia in the last three years.