A good chef is one of the main reasons to enjoying a delicious meal at the restaurant. They ensure the flavours are perfect and your dining experience is smooth. Chefs manage everything from planning menus to preparing food, guaranteeing that each dish is top-notch and satisfies every customer. And Connector recently had the opportunity to hear from the skilled Chef Lesti Utari Budi Hastuti from the renowned Purani Dilli restaurant, located in Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road and Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai.
Originally from Indonesia, Chef Lesti Utari Budi Hastuti pursued hotel management studies and has had a passion for cooking since childhood. From reminiscing about her earliest cooking experiences to discussing her favourite dish, Chef Lesti gives us a glimpse into her culinary journey.
How did you get started in the food industry?
Since childhood, I've been immersed in the kitchen, assisting my mother and cooking for my family. This early love for cooking led me to pursue it as a career, delving into hotel management and specialising in culinary subjects. My four-year stint in hotel management laid the foundation for my hospitality career. I began my journey at the renowned Four Seasons in Bali, Indonesia, and later transitioned to the Grand Hyatt Jakarta. Afterward, I ventured to the United Arab Emirates, where I've had the privilege of working with esteemed brands like Jumeirah, Westin, Mövenpick, and most recently Marriott International. Despite my professional endeavours, my passion for culinary arts continues to thrive, with cooking remaining a beloved hobby.
What is your earliest cooking memory?
My earliest cooking memory dates to the Eid holidays. Being the eldest daughter, I would help my mother prepare dishes for the family celebrations. We would cook a variety of traditional Indonesian dishes such as rendang (Indonesian beef stew), opor ayam (Indonesian chicken curry), lontong (rice cake), and sambal goreng ati (stir-fried beef liver and spicy potato). These are treasured memories that I hold dear to my heart.
What is your favourite dish from your country?
Indonesia boasts an array of fantastic street food options, abundant with flavours and intriguing spices. Among my favourites are bakso, a delicious meatball soup, and tahu isi, a beloved fried snack filled with tofu and vegetables. I often find myself longing for these traditional dishes and try to recreate them here in Dubai whenever possible.
What is the one go-to and easy snack you love making for midnight cravings?
When I’m not snacking on homemade Indonesian street food, I indulge in my favourite go-to: a tomato and feta cheese sandwich. It's my go-to choice when I crave a quick, easy, and healthy option to satisfy those late-night hunger pangs.
What is the one raw ingredient you cannot cook without from your country?
Garlic, garlic and more garlic! It's a must-have ingredient for me. While garlic has a strong taste and odour in its raw form, when sautéed or roasted, it transforms into a soft, sweet, buttery flavour that often surprises first-time eaters. Its unique profile adds depth and flavour to my dishes.
What is the best dish to try at Purani Dilli?
Among the exceptional offerings on the Purani Dilli menu, the Dal Makhani stands out as a must-try. This dish presents a restaurant-style rendition of the classic Punjabi lentil delicacy. With its delicate smoky undertones and creamy consistency, it embodies perfection. If you have a penchant for authentic Punjabi cuisine, this Dal Makhani is sure to captivate your taste buds. Renowned for its universal appeal, it's one of the most beloved lentil recipes that satisfies every palate.
Chef Lesti Utari Budi Hastuti