The Ladylike Chef

essica Juwono started her career in accounting until she decided to pursue her passion in pastry and attended a pastry school in Japan. In addition to Japanese pastry, she’s also a florist. Too bad like the popular term on Internet, her look and skills sound pretty much like “wife material” for most men. She returned to Indonesia merely to apply for a working visa in order to work in Tokyo, Japan. However, her meeting with the Indonesian culinary master, William Wongso, opened many ways for her to spend her “idle” times with on various baking demos.


How did you get into pastry?


I went to Universitas Parahyangan and studied tax brevet, I even did a part time job in e-commerce company at the finance department. I love numbers and calculations, but it seems that my passion is more in baking. Whenever I bake, I don’t seem to get tired.When I went to college, I made cakes like brownies, chiffon, and others, calling my friends to come over and taste them. My mother noticed my passion and she offered me to go to a pastry school in Japan so I can make living from my hobby. She said that Japanese taste is quite similar to Indonesian one, with much higher level of details. Of course, fortunately, my older sister also lives there.Finally, I went to a language school for a year, then attended a pastry class in Nihon Kashi Senmongakko, Tokyo for 2 years. I learned much about wagashi, Japanese traditional confections, and yogashi, western pastry products such as cake, croissant, etc.


Did you also work there?


Yes, I had a part time job at Hugo & Victor, a French chocolate shop that also sells cakes. In Japan, when you graduate from college, you’re not allowed to take a part time job that’s called arubaito. I decided to return to Indonesia because the regulations regarding workforce in Japan are very strict.However, the manager told me that the company was willing to sponsor me to work in Japan, along with their French Head Chef and other Japanese chefs, so I’m the first Indonesian who works at Hugo & Victor Japan, but first, I had to cancel my student visa by checking in at the Indonesian airport in May 2019. Actually, I returned merely to apply for a working visa. It took me 6 months and finally, I managed to work in Japan in January 2020.


I heard that working in Japan is pretty tough. Is that true?


Yes, we have to work like a robot. I struggled a lot during the course of my study in Japan. In fact, I was even underestimated, but I never gave up, and eventually, I got what I wanted. My Indonesian friends often say, “you’re lucky to be able to work in Japan!” but in all honesty, not really. As a pastry staff, they even ordered me to mop the floor.


Wait, you have Javanese accent, Where do you come from?


I came from Semarang, even though I worked in Japan, attended the university in Bandung for 4 years, my accent can’t seem to go away, on the contrary, my Sundanese friends started to have a Javanese accent (laugh)!


So, how did you start to do baking demos in Jakarta?


I came to a food festival in Tokyo and met Om William (Wongso) and Mrs. Santhi (Serad) there. In the beginning, we didn’t know that Santhi’s parents and my parents knew each other. One day, I was making mochi and everyone seemed to like it, and they offered me to teach at a mochi class in Ramurasa. I was lucky to know Om Will, he always encourages me and also helps me with networking.


Along with pastry, you’re also a florist?


Yes, I learned about flower arrangements in Jakarta, Singapore, London and Tokyo. I joined a garden style, flower competition in London and managed to get the second place, at the moment I’m also running my own florist brand (Japaris Flower).


Your hobbies sound very feminine!


Super feminine, but I’m actually very tomboy, I love playing basket and doing muay thai. Perhaps my mother was so worried that she suggested that I should learn more about feminine skills. Flower arrangement is very interesting because you have to be able to conquer the flowers. If they’re weak, you have to use wires. If they’re strong, you have to massage them. You can manipulate flowers.


How long do you plan to work in Japan?


I have working visa for 3 years, but I only plan to spend 1 year there. One thing for sure, I want to build my own pastry brand, probably by starting online business. At the moment, I’m making choux online. It was started when I made choux and my friends seemed to like it, when I posted it on Instagram, the orders kept coming and things got out of hand because I wasn’t too serious to begin with, I never thought I’d have so many orders. I even had to borrow Om Will’s kitchen for the production.


Why did you choose choux?


My choux is very Japanese. With the cream and choux, which is so typical of Japanese. Not to mention that in our first six months at school we focused on choux because Japanese really loves it.



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Jessica Juwono memulai karir di bidang akunting hingga ia akhirnya memutuskan untuk mengejar passionnya di pastry dan bersekolah lagi di Jepang. Selain pastry Jepang, ia juga mendalami seni merangkai bunga, seperti istilah populer di internet, paras dan keahlian Jessica terdengar seperti “wife material” bagi kebanyakan pria. Ia kembali Indonesia sekadar untuk mengurus visa demi bekerja kembali di Tokyo, Jepang. Pertemuannya dengan pakar kuliner Indonesia, William Wongso, malah membuka banyak jalan baginya untuk mengisi “waktu luang”nya, melalui berbagai baking demo.


Bagaimana Anda bisa terjun ke dunia pastry?


Awalnya saya kuliah di Universitas Parahyangan dan mempelajari brevet pajak, saya bahkan pernah bekerja part time di perusahaan e-commerce bagian finance. Saya suka angka dan hitungan, namun sepertinya, sejak kecil passion saya lebih di baking. Jika saya sedang membuat kue, sepertinya saya tidak pernah merasa lelah.Ketika kuliah, saya sering eksperimen membuat kue seperti, brownies, chiffon, dan kue lain, memanggil orang untuk mencicipi. Ibu saya melihat saya suka baking, dan ia menawarkan saya untuk meneruskan studi pastry di Jepang agar hobi saya bisa menghasilkan. Menurutnya, selera orang Jepang mirip dengan selera orang Indonesia dengan tingkat detail yang lebih tinggi, kebetulan kakak saya juga tinggal di sana. Akhirnya saya sekolah bahasa Jepang selama setahun, lalu belajar di Nihon Kashi Senmongakko, Tokyo selama 2 tahun. Saya banyak belajar mengenai wagashi, jajan pasar khas Jepang seperti mochi, dan yogashi, produk pastry western seperti cake, croissant, dsb.


Apakah Anda sempat bekerja di sana?


Ya, saya kerja part time di Hugo & Victor, sebuah brand dari Prancis yang menjual cokelat dan cake. Di Jepang, ketika Anda lulus kuliah, Anda tidak diijinkan untuk mengambil pekerjaan part time lagi, istilahnya arubaito. Tadinya saya memutuskan untuk kembali ke Indonesia karena saya tidak mungkin bisa bekerja di Jepang karena peraturan soal ketenagakerjaan di sana sangat ketat. Namun, manajer di sana berkata bahwa perusahaan mau mensponsori saya untuk kembali bekerja di sana bersama Head Chef mereka dari Prancis dan chef-chef Jepang, jadi saya adalah orang Indonesia pertama yang bekerja di Hugo & Victor Jepang, namun saya harus menghanguskan visa pelajar saya dengan cara kembali ke airport Indonesia pada Mei 2019. Sebetulnya saya kembali hanya untuk mengurus visa kerja, setelah 6 bulan baru semua dokumennya siap dan saya bisa kembali bekerja ke Jepang di Januari 2020.


Saya banyak mendengar mengenai kerasnya dunia kerja di Jepang, benarkah demikian?


Ya, di sana kita bekerja sudah seperti robot. Saya harus berjuang keras di sekolah dan tempat kerja. Bahkan, saya juga sering diremehkan, namun saya tidak pernah menyerah, dan pada akhirnya, saya mendapatkan apa yang saya inginkan. Banyak teman saya di Indonesia, “enak ya kamu bisa kerja di Jepang!” padahal tidak juga. Sebagai orang pastry, saya bahkan pernah disuruh mengepel lantai.


Tunggu, Anda memiliki logat Jawa, Anda berasal dari mana?


Saya orang Semarang, meski sudah bekerja di Jepang dan kuliah di Bandung selama 4 tahun, sepertinya logat saya sulit hilang, malah teman-teman saya yang Sunda ikut jadi medok (tertawa)!


Lalu, bagaimana ceritanya Anda bisa melakukan berbagai demo di Jakarta?


Ketika ada food festival di Tokyo, saya bertemu dengan Om William (Wongso) dan Kak Santhi (Serad). Awalnya kami tidak tahu, namun ternyata orang tua Kak Santhi dan orang tua saya saling mengenal. Suatu saat, saya membuat mochi dan semua orang ternyata suka mochi buatan saya, lalu saya ditawarkan untuk membuat kelas mochi di Ramurasa. Saya beruntung sekali bisa mengenal Om Will, ia selalu menyemangati saya, dan juga membantu membuka networking. 


Selain pastry, Anda juga mendalami seni merangkai bunga?


Ya, saya juga mempelajari bunga di Jakarta, Singapura, London dan Tokyo. Saya pernah mengikuti lomba merangkai bunga garden style di London dan berhasil meraih juara 2, saat ini saya juga memiliki brand florist sendiri (Japaris Flower).


Jadi sebetulnya, passion Anda di bunga atau pastry?


Keduanya, saya belajar bunga karena bisa menunjang pastry, ada banyak kemiripan pada bunga dan pastry. Namun jika harus memilih salah satu, saya akan pilih pastry, pasti!


Hobi Anda terdengar feminin sekali!


Super feminin, padahal tadinya saya cukup tomboi, saya suka bermain basket dan muay thai. Mungkin ibu saya khawatir dan menyarankan saya untuk mempelajari keahlian yang feminin, akhirnya saya belajar merangkai bunga. Sebetulnya bunga sangat menarik karena Anda harus mampu menaklukkan bunga. Jika bunganya lemas, Anda harus menggunakan kawat, lalu jika bunganya keras, harus dipijat dulu, ternyata bunga bisa dimanipulasi!


Berapa lama Anda akan bekerja di Jepang?


 Saya mendapatkan visa kerja selama 3 tahun, tapi rencananya saya hanya ingin bekerja selama 1 tahun. Yang pasti, ketika kembali saya ingin membangun brand pastry saya sendiri di Indonesia, mungkin dimulai dari online. Saat ini saya juga menerima pesanan melalui online. Dimulai dari ketika saya membuat kue sus, banyak teman saya yang suka, dan ketika saya posting di Instagram, pesanan terus berdatangan hingga saya kewalahan. Karena niat awal saya hanya iseng, saya tidak menyangka dapat menerima pesanan sebanyak itu, bahkan saya harus meminjam dapur Om Will untuk produksi. 


Mengapa Anda memilih kue sus?


Sus yang saya buat rasanya sangat “Jepang”, dengan cream dan sus yang sangat tipikal Jepang. Pada 6 bulan pertama sekolah, kami sangat fokus pada sus karena orang Jepang sangat menyukai sus!


Location: PANTRY MAGIC

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