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Obituary: Farewell Bondan Winarno, Indonesian culinary legend

Dylan Amirio
Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Thu, November 30, 2017 | 08:14 am
Obituary: Farewell Bondan Winarno, Indonesian culinary legend

Bondan was recognized for his famous line “Pokoke Maknyus (all in all it’s delicious)”. (Kompas.com/Susi Ivvaty)

Indonesian culinary expert and journalist Bondan Winarno passed away at the age of 67 on Wednesday, leaving behind a stellar reputation.

He was best known for his contribution to the Indonesian lexicon with his catchphrase, “Pokoke Maknyuss!” (The point is, it’s delicious!), which was a complimentary exclamation referring to his enjoyment of a particular dish on Wisata Kuliner (Culinary Trip), his popular TV show on Trans TV in the 2000s.

Read also: Journalist, culinary expert Bondan Winarno passes away

Wisata Kuliner showcased Bondan’s pleasant delivery and fun demeanor whenever he explored cuisine, tasting food at several restaurants and describing them in a way that made viewers’ mouths water. He was also a prominent advocate of healthy diets and explained the history of dishes in his program.

He himself owned several restaurants, including Kopi OEY and the Eat&Eat foodhall franchise in several malls.

Apart from hosting his famous TV show, his resume was staggeringly diverse as he had worked as a cameraman, copywriter, advertising executive, businessman, author and consultant for the World Bank. His love for food derived from his famous long-running “Jalansutra” column in Suara Pembaruan, which in 2013 evolved into a mailing list with over 7,000 subscribers.

Bondan’s death resulted from a long-term heart condition.

In a statement sent earlier to the Jalansutra mailing list, Bondan explained his illness. He said he first realized something was not right in 2005 when he was traveling back from Singapore and felt numbness in his right hand.

Around two years ago, Bondan was told that he had an aortic aneurysm after an annual medical checkup in Malaysia, while in July this year, his doctor in Jakarta discovered other heart problems.

Bondan underwent successful surgery on his aorta in September. Earlier this month he underwent another surgery, but after receiving intensive-care treatment for several days he died from heart failure.

Bondan was always upbeat, positively describing the meals he ate in his reports and on his TV show.

“I’m out to promote food, not criticize it,” Bondan said in a 2006 piece in The Jakarta Post.

Previously, Bondan was a prominent journalist at Tempo and SWA. One of his most notable journalistic accomplishments at Tempo was an investigative piece exposing a mining-industry scandal in Batam in 1997. His report was published as a book titled Bre-X: Sebungkah Emas di Kaki Pelangi (Bre-X: A Piece of Gold at the Edge of the Rainbow). “In everything I do, I must enlighten, not only entertain,” he commented in 2006.

His death has been noted both by those in the culinary industry and the wider Indonesian public.

Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono said the Bre-X piece was Bondan’s magnum opus.

Chef Budi Kurniawan also posted on his Facebook account, saying the Indonesian culinary scene had lost one of its best members.

Founder of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival Janet DeNeefe also offered her condolences on social media: “So absolutely devastated to hear of the passing of Bondan Winarno — one of Indonesia’s culinary legends. A true national hero and inspiration. What a huge gap he will leave.”

Chef William Wongso described Bondan, who is survived by his wife and three children, as a humble intellectual with incredible passion for cuisine. “What Indonesia lost today is a culinary intellect [...]. He always looked for the best in everything and would always speak his mind if he had to.”

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