Chef Nonky Gives Helping Hand


She may be petite in stature but Indonesian born, United Kingdom domiciled and currently Shangri- La Sri Lanka based executive chef Nonky Tejapermana packs a punch way above her weight in the world of culinary arts that has seen her slave over hot stoves in places as far apart from each other, Sydney to London and Dubai to Miami. Along the way she has been acclaimed by Conde Nast Traveler – wherein Hollywood star, Kate Winslet, offered Nonky a ringing endorsement as well as another one in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Her over two decade career has seen her start with the Shangri-La and Four Seasons hotels in her hometown of Jakarta, she then moved on to the Burj Al Arab and proceeded to sharpen her skills in London, first at the Mandarin Oriental and later at famed Hilton in Park Lane. While operating in London it meant having the unique privilege to cook for the Queen of England, the Queen of Pop Madonna, Tony Blair, Jennifer Aniston and Will Smith, among but a few names to drop.

Along the way having also served stints with Qatar Airways and P&O luxury cruises. Which brings us neatly to Nonky and the Philippines. Just recently she has decided to dip the gentlest of toes in the local culinary backwaters training them and also provide for their employment. This is why instead of Manila we chose Bulacan where there is more of a need for employment. My hope is that profits from the restaurant will eventually help to build classrooms or a small hospital in the area.”

“The menu at Bistro G is nothing complicated considering it’s just a starting point in the food business for many of the staff, some kind of Bistro but with fine dining service. I also want to try and promote Filipino food by giving it new twist”, she adds.

With another restaurant, this time named Koki Nonky Restaurant in the works to be opened shortly in Baguio, and with the same outreach values in mind, Nonky is kept understandably busy while directing her small team in the Philippines from her present base in Hambantota on the picturesque southern coast of Sri Lanka where she is the Executive Chef of Shangri-La’s super luxurious and idyllic Hambantota Golf & Spa Resort.

Observing her at work in the Shangri-La in Hambantota, it’s easy to see that she brings an element of caring to her cooking. In a scene of clattering pans and steaming urgency she is a calm but firm presence. No spitting hot fat as is the norm for today’s genre of celebrity chefs! “I treat my chefs here like extended family. My constant advice to them is that when the ingredients are fresh, it is all that mainly what matters. No need to replenish, just go with it. That to me is what good cooking is all about”.

“Putting on my white tongs and going to work everyday here in this beautiful resort is an exciting adventure”, she concludes. Email joyfong@rocketmail.com



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