Julie Thonnard recently interviewed Chef Hero, a renowned chef across the Gili Islands. He will be holding cooking classes and serving up the best Indonesian cuisine during The Gili Bankit Festival.

Discover the story and inspirations of this truly talented chef as he worked his way up by teaching himself how to cook with the support of his mother. Not only has he achieved being a popular chef, but owns and is a head chef of Warung Sunny. - One of the most iconic restaurants on Gili Air, - he is also part of the Indonesian Chef Association (ICA).  

Who or what inspired you to be a chef?

My mother inspired me, I am from a big family, normally when you are in a big family your mother is very dominant to cook your food. My mother was always making different food for a different kid.

I think it is hard, every kid is different, some didn't like spice or sweet.   

My mum was generous and gave a lot of passion and love to do everything for her kids.

So yes my mum inspired me.  

Did you go to culinary school, if not how did you learn? 


Julie Thonnard and Chef Hero 

I have no formal education from cooking school, but I learn by doing.

I love to travel and when I end up in one place then I learn something new.

I also love to share my experience and what I have learned with other people through my cooking.

Do you have a sense of humor? 

Of course, yer. Cooking is fun.   

As a cook you can be an entertainer, you can entertain people while cooking you can sing and dance. You can make people smile and be happy.

Is there a chef you admire the most, and if yes who why? 

I watched a movie called Chef, he inspired me. He was in a hard situation, he never gave up, because he loved his job, after he went traveling, he tried to make something of himself, he traveled and cooked along the way and learned. He inspired me, so I did the same as him.

 I have a dream, I would like to own a food truck one day, I could go travelling around Indonesia, sharing my love of food with everyone.   

What is your favourite cuisine?

Indonesian food is my favorite of course. I’m Indonesian and influenced by my mother. 

My favourite dish to cook?

I love to cook Beef Rendang curry.

It is different, you have to put your passion and love you into a Rendang. You need to control the flavour, it is not random, you need to put your senses into this dish.

What is an example of a springtime menu you would make:

Starter - Gili Ganoush

  Like baba ganoush, but with aubergine and tempe.   

  It will be presented beautifully! Presentation is so important, people eat with their eyes! Customers lick the plate after this dish! It’s great, it means people have connected with you when plates come back empty.   

 Main dish - Nasi yomi   

  Yomi means yum yum yum! It will have coconut rice, with mixed dishes - campur style - which is like Indonesian tapas.   

  It will have nice colour and all the flavors of Lombok in one dish, including chillies. Lombok actually means chilli!   

  And of course will come with sauce, everything comes with sauce!   

  Dessert - Klepon balls  

 This is a traditional Indonesian dessert. They're sticky rice balls, stuffed with liquid palm sugar and sprinkled with shredded coconut.   

  These will make you happy! 


Spices in Warung Sunny, Indonesia

You are famous for your dessert Jamu. What is your secret ingredient? 

To be honest, every place has a different Jamu, my secret ingredient is energy. Jam means wisdom and u means health. It’s a good thing to give to people. It is referred to as a natural medicine as it is a natural antibiotic.

When are you happiest at work?  

Every time! I never get stressed, because when you are stressed it will change your taste.

Where are you originally from and how did you end up in Gili Air?

I am originally from the capital of Lombok, Mataram. And the first time I came to Gili Air was 3 years ago. And I worked for a Mexican restaurant. I found Mexican food similar to my own culture and I thought it was a good opportunity. I wanted to develop my own business, I thought it was a good challenge for me and a good chance to learn. 


Chef Hero at Warung Sunny, Indonesia 

Described your time since you arrived on the island and your favorite moments? 

The people here are very nice, and also there is very good energy, which made me fall in love with the island.

  The first time I stepped on the Island i fell in love with it.   

I felt something different, with the very good energy, my body told me I have to stay on this Island and do something.

  Another great moment is when I opened my restaurant Warung Sunny, because we started from scratch, I had no money to start it, but we worked hard to make it what it is.   

  I love to talk to people about my food and my passion and then I connected with people. When I opened, people used to ask me to do live cooking. Also people that were under food stress from dietary requirements like vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose intolerance started to come and talk to me and I would help them by creating suitable food especially for them. I’ve learned so much about people's different nutrient and diet needs. I’ve even learned about natural medicines from my experience living in the jungle.   

  Say if you are sick with the flu or cold ginger and Satu Ayam is great. Satu Ayam is also a very good food for hangovers! You lose a lot of electrolytes from alcohol, Satu Ayam boosts your immune system back to normal. For tummy problems and Bali belly, guava tea is good! Guava leaf is full of antibacterials. If you don’t want the tea, you can take the young guava and chew it and this will help you too. Snake fruit can also be good for the tummy.   

  For dengue fever boiling papaya leaves.

You are most famous for your cooking classes, is that when you think you are most happiest at work?

Yes, that is when I can share my passion.

What is your philosophy in the kitchen?

Everyone can cook, but the most important thing is you put your passion and love, that is it!


Chef Hero of Warung Sunny, Indonesia

Learn more about Chef Hero and get to meet the man himself!

At the Gili Bangkit Festival, you can sample his favourite Indonesian dishes and even learn how to cook them for yourself at his cooking classes.

The Gili Bangkit Festival will be held on tiny Island in Indonesia called Gili Air. This eco-friendly Island off from Lombok has plenty to do. It is surrounded by white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue water and pristine coral reefs.

Stay tuned for more information and the full festival line up on - https://facebook.com/slowfoodandyoga

The Gili Bankit Festival is provided by -

Biba beach - http://www.bibabeach.com/giliair.php

Chef Hero - Warung Sunny - https://web.facebook.com/warung.sunny.7

Flowers and fire - http://flowersandfire.yoga

Slow Villas & Spa - https://slowgiliair.com

If you are looking for travel inspiration, transportation or accommodation during the Festival or your next trip to Indonesia visit - Gili Travel Agency 

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