If you’re new to Jakarta and looking to source fresh, nutritious food or you are simply interested in healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle, then this ajb post is for you.
Today we have the honour of meeting and chatting with the inspiring Max Mandias – Co-founder and Executive Chef of Burgreens and arguably Indonesia’s leading advocate on veganism and healthy eating.
Read on as Max shares with us: His personal journey to achieving better health for life; His top tips on where to source healthy ingredients in Jakarta and one of his personal recipes that’s quick and easy to make.
*Kenalkan Max Mandias – Co-founder, Food & Beverage Director and Executive Chef of Burgreens
Max, please tell us about yourself and how Burgreens came to exist
For the first 18 years of my life, I lived in Jakarta. After this I was ready for greater adventures and new experiences so I moved to the Netherlands to study finance.
After graduating from my tertiary studies, I worked as a Data Analyst. My genuine interest and curiosity about food began whilst I was overseas. Initially as a student, everything was expensive and as I had a limited budget, I had to cook for myself. Whilst studying I also worked in restaurants as a kitchen assistant. This had a double benefit as not only did it earn me money, it also impressed the girls that a guy could cook so well!
Whilst living in Amsterdam, I met my wife, Helga, also from Jakarta, who was studying Communications. Helga was vegetarian at the time, and this served as further motivation to learn how to prepare quality vegetable-based food.
Whilst working as a Data Analyst I started to look more closely at the health and healing properties of foods. Due to the sedentary nature of my job, I was constantly feeling sick, unhealthy and lethargic. I also put on quite a lot of weight in a relatively short time. I decided to alter my diet significantly and I became raw vegan. Within 3 months I had lost 15 kilos. I felt much better almost immediately; such a drastic change without any medical intervention. This experience made me want to learn more about raw foods and veganism as it was making such a profound difference to my life. Coincidentally, each day I would pass Alchemist Garden, a raw food restaurant and shop in Amsterdam. I volunteered to work there and for the next 5 months, I learned how to make raw food and how to present it. This was an extremely significant turning point in my life.
In August 2013, after seven great years of living in the Netherlands, I returned to Jakarta accompanied by my future wife, Helga. We were ready to realise our dream of starting up our own vegetarian & vegan cafe.
Through connections, we found our first organic supplier – Yum Farm whom we continue to use today. We then established relationships with food artisans such as Rosalie Cheese. By Dec 2013 we had set up Burgreens Bintaro, in Jakarta’s south west. These were very exciting times but also nerve-wracking.
About a year later, we established our second outlet in Tebet, South Jakarta. Already housed in the building was Organiklub – a one-stop organic shop, so the tying together of our two businesses made complete sense. Together we were able to provide an even better product for the healthy eating community.
And then in September 2016, we opened our most recent outlet in the trendy neighbourhood of Darmawagnsa. Living in this part of Jakarta are lots of young people who are interested in health and wellbeing, so this was an obvious place to set up. In the same year, two more partners came on board, Lala and Glenn who are now a part of our management team, responsible for system development and operations back up.
What’s in a name? Why ‘Burgreens’?
The ‘green’ implies natural, healthy, plant-based and eco-friendly. The ‘burg’ is all about the Burger – a symbol of junk food. By combing these two words we are aiming to ‘healthify’ the concept of fast food.
What’s the philosophy behind the food that you create?
What we eat directly impacts many things including our body, the health of animals, farmers and of course, the environment. That’s why we source organic ingredients from local farmers. Some of our ingredients are also sourced from local food artisans including the organisation, Taneuh (an expert in microgreens and urban farming).
We make healthy food from plant-based sources. But always, the food should look and taste naughty but at the same time be healthy.
What’s your favourite dish on the Burgreens menu?
I have two: The Big Max and the Black Mini Trio
What is the most popular dish on the Burgreens menu?
Burgreens Steak (made from a dense patty of mushrooms), Tempe Gomashi and our Greenonigiri Platter.
Who is the average Burgreens customer?
The average Burgreens customer is aged 25 – 35 years and wants to eat healthy food (beyond vegetarianism or raw foodism). As well, our customers believe that healthy food is all part of a quality life.
Where are the best place/s to source whole foods and fresh fruit & vegetables in Jakarta?
Organiklub – For all things healthy and wholesome
Javara For organic dry whole food
Club Sehat – For a variety of healthy foods and ingredients
YUM Farm For fresh vegetables, herbs and spices
BSP Farm – Organic farm and farm-stay in Bogor
For quality fresh fruits, the best place is still the traditional market, in particular for local bananas and exotic fruits like terong belanda. Any local pasar is good but I especially like Pasar Modern (BSD and Bintaro).
If our readers are keen to establish their own veggie/herb garden, can you give some advice?
I would suggest that they work with someone who knows Jakarta’s tropical climate well. Contacting Taneuh would be a fantastic first port of call as they offer consultant services and are able to set up your garden for you.
Who do you find inspiring and why?
I find Dr Michael Greger from nutritionfacts.org extremely inspiring. He is a medical doctor who is also vegan. He has a very open mind and always presents data to support his statements. He is very credible.
What’s one thing about you that would surprise people?
Like many chefs, I barely cook at home. Breakfast often includes simple foods like oats, steamed beans and legumes. One of our favourite foods are oven-baked sweet potatoes seasoned with activated bamboo salt (taksumi powder), which we buy from a local vendor just near our home.
What annoys you?
People who push their opinion too much and think that they are the most correct and others are only wrong. Also people who are loud and have very little on which to base their opinions.
What delights you?
I love nature so much – being in nature delights me. Eating good food that is sourced ethically and consciously is also delightful.
What’s your most treasured possession?
Honestly I don’t have one. I learned from meditation that happiness in life comes from detachment. I don’t tend to link value to material possessions. I let go of things easily. I guess if I had to identify anything that would come close to a ‘most treasured possession’, I would say my wife, Helga (but maybe the word ‘possession’ isn’t quite right!).
Give 3 words to describe your Jakarta?
Exciting, highly dynamic and creative.
What’s your favourite Indonesian book?
The Supernova series (5 books) by Dewi Lestari (her pen name is Dee). The books are about spirituality and adventure.
What’s your favourite Indonesian Movie and Band or Singer?
Movie: Warkop (original version) – a Comedy that is extremely authentic
Band: Project Pop (whose music is very upbeat, no sassy love longs!)
Tea, Coffee or Juice? And where?
Probably coffee. I would recommend Rosso Micro Roastery in BSD. As well, we have just set up coffee in our Darmawagnsa store, using beans from Toraja in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Where do you go to relax in this busy city?
We enjoy having a massage and reflexology. Nano reflexology in Bintaro is great.
Finish the following sentences for us:
Every visitor to Jakarta should eat….. Burgreens, *Jajanan Pasar (especially in Jakarta) and *Karedok.
Every visitor to Jakarta should visit….. Burgreens, local artisan coffee shops and Jakarta’s Old City of Kota Tua.
Every visitor to Jakarta should experience….. any of our Burgreens events (which are often related to sustainability) and also a visit to a traditional market.
What’s your favourite place to visit in Indonesia?
BSP Organic farm in Bogor is extremely relaxing. Only 2 hours from Jakarta, it feels very remote, quiet and secluded. The air is really nice. It is located at the foot of the mountains and grows organic vegetables. The chef does a great job!
I also love Ubud in Bali and am very keen to visit Aceh in North Sumatra. I recently saw the movie, Before the Flood (featuring Leonardo Di Caprio) which has inspired me to visit this province that was devastated by the Tsunami of 2004. I am also keen to travel to Flores and Papua, for their cultural diversity. A visit to the Orang Utan conservation centre in Borneo (Samboja Lestari) is also on my list.
What’s Jakarta’s best kept secret?
Jakarta is definitely the capital city of startups – definitely in South East Asia, if not the World!
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
I enjoy watching, reading and educating myself about my work. And of course, spending time with my family.
Finally, can you share a simple but healthy recipe with us?
Absolutely!… (see below)
Creamy Vegan Mayonnaise by Max Mandias
1 Cup white tofu, blanched to sterilize
1/2 Tb apple cider vinegar
1 Tb palm nectar (for vegetarians, you can substitute this with honey)
1 tsp yellow mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
50 ml olive oil
1. Put everything into high speed blender. Blend until smooth
2. Add basil and/or garlic to create Italian flavor
3. Mayonaise will keep for 1 week in the fridge. If oil is separated, just stir using spoon.
Songolas Green Space
Jl. Flamboyan no. 19, Rempoa
Open: Tuesday to Friday 8.00am – 8.30pm
Delivery & RSVP: 08788 200 5070
BURGREENS EXPRESS DARMAWANGSA
Jl. Wijaya 2 no. 73, Darmawangsa
Jakarta Selatan 12160
Open: Monday to Sunday 7.30am – 9.00pm
Delivery & RSVP: 0878 8989 2010
Jl. Tebet Barat Raya no. 49 C
Monday to Friday 9.30 – 20.30
Saturday to Sunday 8.00 – 20.30
BURGREENS PACIFIC PLACE
Opening soon (mid-March 2017)
Pacific Place Mall
LG – 18, SCBD
(Check instagram for details)
* Kenalkan – Let me introduce..
* Jajanan pasar – Traditional cakes and sweets bought at a local market
* Karedok – similar to gado-gado, a traditional indonesian raw salad served with peanut sauce
Interested in some of our other posts which focus on Healthy Eating and Healthy Living in Jakarta? Here are some suggestions:
Words: Jo Photography: a journey bespoke and Max Mandias