The Man Behind The Trend

It took a smart person to explain a complicated subject to educated audience, but a smarter person is able to simplify the matter and explain it to wider range of audience.

You can attend baking demos by the most famous chef in the world who’s capable of making the most sophisticated product. The thing is, when you got home and try to apply the fancy techniques, you are faced with some issues. From the availability of the ingredients, difficulties in producing it in large quantities, requiring more skilled worker, not to mention the sky-rocketing selling price.

However, if you need product that’s good for your business: easy to be mass-produced with high commercial value, Koko Hidayat, Smart+’s Technical Service Manager, is the name you should remember. With the vast number of clients and various success stories of clients using his creations, it is safe to say that Koko Hidayat is one of the most influential figures in determining the bakery trend in Indonesia. Here’s our exclusive interview with trend maker

What’s the starting point of your affair with the world of baking?

As someone who was born and raised in Cianjur, I used to seeing my mother making cakes, and it influenced me directly. When I was in high school, I started taking courses in Ny. Liem, Bandung.

I heard you have a twin brother?

Yes, I’m Koko, therefore, my twin brother is (obviously) Dede. As opposed to my baking hobby, Dede prefer hot kitchen, such as cooking fried rice.

What’s your educational and career background?

In 1987 I went to IKIP, Bandung, majoring in Food and Beverage Production. After a year, I took Diploma in Trisakti, Jakarta. After graduated, my lecturer offered my a job in Sinar Meadow, at the time, I also got to know Haryanto (Makmoer) who acted as the lecturer’s assistant. I joined Sinar Meadow for 1,5 years before I got bored and moved to Dunkin Donuts as R&D Supervisor in 1993. I only worked there for merely 8 months, and then I joined Tulip, Nirwana Lestari for 3,5 years. At the moment, Mr. Louis (Tanuhadi) hadn’t yet to join Tulip. From there, I moved to Smart (now Smart+)on December 2nd 1996 as Technical Supervisor until now, as Technical Service Manager, it’s been 21 years already. I’m responsible in handling West Indonesia here.

It’s such a long time, you don’t get bored this time?

Fortunately my superior here gives me freedom and chance for activities outside the office, like joining courses abroad or entering competitions. Here, I also involved directly with customers so I can witness and share innovations. I love Korean and Taiwanese bakery products. Even though both of them were strongly based on French and Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean products can be adopted more easily for the majority of Indonesian market.

You’re popular because of your creations, which are easy to produce and have high commercial value.

I’m not a very detail-oriented person; in addition, most of my customers demand simple, practical products that can be mass-produced and very commercial. This market segment uses more margarine compared to hotel’s cakes which tend to use more butter.

What are the characteristics of commercial products?

First, it should be affordable. Second, it uses readily available ingredients. I do demos not only in big cities like Jakarta and Bandung, but also smaller towns where they have limited access to baking ingredients.

What are the current trending products?

We’re back to the classic, therefore, this year, Smart+’s recipe book focuses more on Asian recipes. We make this after hearing some feedbacks about our previous French themed recipe book. It appeared that we use ingredients that are harder to be mass-produced such as mousse, as a result, not all of the products in the book could be applied by our clients

That’s why, this year we’re back to Asian cakes which uses ingredients such as taro, or Pecel Cake, which features spinach and peanut. The Asian cake concept uses more margarine, easier to make, and the taste is easily accepted by most of our clients.

Can margarine fully substitutes butter application?

Of course not, the aroma of butter and margarine are different. Even though many consider butter has better aroma, actually, there are some who dislike it, they think the aroma’s too “umami”. Other than that, another obstacle in using butter is it’s rising price tag. For the application, product with butter tends to be drier because butter actually has less water content, only around 15%, as opposed to margarine, which has 18%. If you want butter aroma with moist texture, we have Filma Prestige, margarine with butter blend.

Which one is healthier, butter or margarine?

To me they’re the same. People don’t want to use butter because they fear the cholesterol in it, meanwhile, they also fear the trans fat in margarine. Please note that butter and margarine only a part of the whole product. If the product requires lot of egg yolk, like in Lapis Surabaya, of course it will be unhealthy. However, I don’t think you consume cake everyday, do you? If consumed in moderation, I don’t think there will be major problem.

Lately, Smart+ seems to focus more in promoting Filma Prestige.

Actually, the product was launched 5 years ago. However, lately we have clients who insist on mixing the margarine and butter, so we came up more practical solution. In addition, more clients complain about the rising price of butter and they turn to substitute products, such as Filma Prestige.

We’d like to know your daily activities as Technical Service Manager.

Most of the times, I created recipe for clients or handling their complaints and problems. Recipes can be made by client’s request, such as our client in Padang who wants to sell coconut cake, but sometimes we also propose the recipes for them. Of course, not all of the ideas are accepted, but that’s another matter. For these recipes, we gave them for free, as long as they’re loyal to our products. For big clients, I often came to them door to door, because we have some clients who don’t want their recipes to be imitated by competitors.

Personally, what sort of products do you really like?

I tend to love simple Indonesian products, presented in elegant ways to raise its class. However, we need to be a bit selective, let say for wet cakes, their shelf-life are very short. We also have many traditional cakes which were based on rice flour, or sticky rice flour so it can be consumed by people with autism.

What are Smart+’s competitive edge?

Our clients are ranging from bread factory to modern bakery, so we have products for all segments. For the bread factory, we have Menara, for the middle-class, we have Palmvita, and for the upper market, we have Filma and Palmbom. If Filma’s aroma is more to the butter side, then Palmboom is more to fruity butter, to be specific, pineapple’s aroma. The preference is very subjective, most people in West Indonesia prefer Filma, but East Indonesians prefer Palmboom, because it’s the aroma that’s familiar to them.

Do you have anything to say about the growing number of small online businesses?

Small online businesses are growing rapidly, but their margarine consumption is not that high. They usually consume up to 5 cartons of margarine per month (1 carton= 15 kg) because most of the sales are by order, meanwhile bakeries’ may use more than 5 cartons. However they have some advantages, they can make more personalized products for more exclusive image. Along the way, they can be quite a threat for bakeries that don’t update themselves as they grow more and have better presentation.