The Jakarta Post
Locavore only uses sustainably sourced local ingredients to create its modern European dishes. (-/Rupert Singleton)
Eelke Plasmeijer, Dutch chef and owner of the celebrated Locavore restaurant, sounded down when talking about the establishment’s achievement of being listed as one of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants for five years in a row.
“Honestly, for me and [Locavore co-owner] Ray, it is good, but it is more about the boys and the girls who have worked really, really hard. Making it on the list is a big thing,” he told The Jakarta Post via telephone on Friday.
“Business-wise it is important, it makes you stand out as the only Indonesian restaurant on the list.”
Locavore, an upscale dining establishment in Ubud, Bali, was established in 2013 by Plasmeijer and Indonesian chef Ray Adriansyah. When it first opened, it focused on everything local. They sourced fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood from farmers and fishers they knew, and even went the extra mile of going to nearby forests to search for edible wild flowers.
“We use humble local ingredients and make them speak,” Eelke said. “We buy animals from people that we know treat their animals well, at least the ones that impose the least amount of stress on the animals. We make sure that the animals have a healthy diet, not being injected with hormones. The most important thing is that we know where we get the animals from, so we only use healthy animals, and keep the line [between the farmer and the consumers] really short.”
Locavore even has its plates, silverware and cocktail glasses made in a nearby workshop. The commitment to sustainability won the restaurant the Sustainable Restaurant Award in 2019.
It also remained committed to its local farmers and suppliers even after the restaurant closed on March 21 amid growing fear over the coronavirus pandemic.
The restaurant now offers deliveries with the Fresh Farm Box, a package of the daily harvest consisting of vegetables, fruit, herbs and eggs, all sourced from Locavore suppliers.
We have been busy thinking of ideas how to act supportively for those around us during this difficult time that we almost forgot the people that made our business possible in the first place: the farmers! These men and women have continued to plant and harvest their crops but are now about to see a huge drop in demand from restaurants, cafes and hotels slowing down or closing. They are going to be stuck with a lot of their beautiful produce in over supply and is perishable and will go to waste. That is a crying shame and we simply cannot let that happen…. And it’s a great way to help you have nutritional and healthy fresh food at home. We prepare beautiful and delicious boxes twice a week (Every Monday and Friday) 3 sizes and prices - single person (90k), 2 people (150k) and a family of four (250k). Available for collection in Local Parts (our little neighborhood butcher shop) or we can come and deliver to your home (Ubud only or pay extra for larger distance delivery) Each box is our recommendation based on what’s available, however we will communicate with each customer what’s in the box and if there are preferences we adjust the contents accordingly (Image of box is just an example). All produce grown on the island by farmers we know and trust (that means we like to believe it is as organic as possible) Reuseable woven basket ‘boxes’ that you return with each new box pick up/ delivery. Place your order with WhatsApp 0821 4495 6226
Eelke said that, with many restaurants and hotels closing, farmers would be stuck with fresh produce. So the Fresh Farm Box sources and packages said produce, which is sent to consumers every Monday and Friday. The contents of the box depend on what the farmers grow and pick that day. Each box has 18 different seasonally harvested produce items, which enables farmers to keep making money and consumers to keep having fresh meals on their tables even while self-quarantining.
“I think the Fresh Farm Box idea is good to make us stay busy and positive,” Eelke said. “There are already about 70 people who have signed up for [delivery of the box].”
For Eelke, the restaurant’s delivery of the box is only temporary.
“We are not a take-away restaurant. We offer a three-to-four-hour dining experience that could not be put in a box,” he said. “We do this not because we want to keep the revenues, but because we have to be creative, busy and positive these days.”
Food critic Kevindra Prianto Soemantri said the closure of restaurants in a time of global crisis was necessary.
“The dining [industry] is in trouble. It is impossible to order steak online or order Locavore’s set menu via GoFood. Closing the restaurant is the best option, otherwise the operational expenses will keep increasing,” Kevindra told the Post on Friday.
Before the coronavirus hit, Locavore’s main attraction was its tasting menu. For its Wet Season menu, offered on Jan. 14 with the intention of running for four months, a patron could enjoy a set of dishes for Rp 1,250,000 (US$77.38), with an additional Rp 650,000 if served with pairing craft drinks.
“The government should help with tax relief, a subsidy for the workers’ insurance and much more. That is what the dining scene in the United States has done,” Kevindra said.
He further said the Indonesian government should have done better to promote Indonesian restaurants to world-class reviewers, as there were many restaurants in Jakarta and Bali that could compete along with Locavore.
“It is the government’s task to encourage tourism in the culinary field, just like Singapore whose creative agency has a dining department,” Kevindra said.
According to Kevindra, Locavore has outshined other similar establishments as it was founded at a time when the local produce movement was gaining traction in the global culinary scene. Its concept of fine dining minus the pretentiousness is also what brought attention.
“Locavore is an upscale dining establishment with an interior of casual dining, but with set menu concepts a la fine dining.” (wng)
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