The Jakarta Post
Making chocolate in Yogyakarta was the last thing on the mind of Thierry Detournay before he came to Indonesia.
The 48-year-old Belgian's life took a different path. 'I never thought of becoming a chocolatier, although I've been fond of chocolate.'
There was, however, a chocolate factory near Detournay's home that he frequently visited when in grade school. 'We were allowed to savor chocolate to our satisfaction,' Detournay said.
At first, Detournay wanted to be a veterinarian and studied biology and psychology at the Free University of Brussels. After graduation, he worked for the government as a counselor for drug addicts.
Following a trip to India, Detournay returned to Belgium and worked with street children for seven years before spending a year and a half backpacking through Southeast Asia.
While visiting Indonesia, Detournay visited Banda Aceh, Padang, Java, Bali, Sulawesi and spent several months in Kalimantan.
Back in Brussels, he made up his mind to settle in Indonesia. 'I planned to be back [home] home for a short time, but I had to stay longer due to an accident,' Detournay said.
By 2001, he returned to Indonesia, setting down in Yogyakarta.
Initially, he had no contacts other than street children, who taught him Indonesian. Detournay started to crave chocolate, but couldn't find anything even closely resembling the taste of the treat that he enjoyed back home.
Detournay, who says a friend in Brussels taught him how to make chocolate, then decided to make some of his own in Yogyakarta.
The resulting concoction was a hit, prompting Detournay to start selling chocolate with the moniker Cokelat Monggo.
He and a friend, Sugiasih ' now Detournay's production supervisor ' sold their product from the back of a pink Vespa on the campus of Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University, toting around about 5 kilograms of chocolate at a time.
Although it used a slightly bitter cocoa-butter and dark chocolate rather than vegetable fat, Cokelat Monggo was in demand. People appreciated its 12 flavors, such as strawberry, mango and praline.
Detournay attributes his success in part to his wife, Andien, from nearby Surakarta, Central Java, who he met the French Language Educational Institute in 2004 and who he married a year later, when Cokelat Monggo was already set up in a rental house.
Andien started off making chocolate with Detournay and Sugiasih; today, she manages PT Anugerah Mulia Sentosa (PT AMS), the production license holder of the brand.
Another friend, Edward Riando Picassauw (Edo), was also present at the beginning, selling Cokelat Monggo's wares on Valentine's Day.
Detournay and Edo currently own the Cokelat Monggo factory. Detournay focuses on production, Edo on marketing and distribution. Edo's wife is also part of the business, helping to manage the production license.
Burhan, an artist who befriended Detournay when he arrived in Yogyakarta, was the inspiration in naming the product, Detournay said.
According to the Belgian, when they were all trying to find a name for the product, Burhan said:'Ya, wes monggo terserah mau diberi nama apa.'
The phrase translates as: 'OK then, please feel free to give it a name.'
'I thought it was the right name,' Detournay said. ''Monggo' means 'please' and from my observation, Yogya people saying monggo will always gesture by pointing the right thumb.'
Detournay has designed Cokelat Monggo as a typical product of Yogyakarta suitable for souvenirs, wedding ceremonies, birthday parties and other occasions.
He's also opened four showrooms: in Kota Gede, Tirtodipuran (Yogyakarta), PVJ Bandung and Kemang, South Jakarta.
'My friends in Belgium, also the one who taught me chocolate making, don't believe what I've done and achieved here,' Detournay says.
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