A Marriage of Flavors: Hennessy V.S.O.P meets Indonesian Dishes

Chef Reynold Poernomo tells the story behind his choice of Indonesian dishes in this collaborative venture with Hennessy V.S.O.P

Chef Reynold Poernomo previously shared with us his personal journey in the culinary arts and also his unique insight into elevating Indonesian flavors through meal pairing with Hennessy V.S.O.P. Of particular note, Chef Poernomo has created several contemporary interpretations of popular Indonesian dishes—namely Ayam Gulai and Roasted Pumpkin Rendang—bringing his Indonesian heritage to life while showcasing just how versatile Hennessy V.S.O.P can be.

For the former, Chef Poernomo notes that it is one of his childhood favorites, one that he has tried to put his own spin on. He also explains that once paired with Hennessy V.S.O.P, the flavor of the cognac cleanses the palate and brings out such fragrance from the many different spices. “The Ayam Gulai’s heat, spiciness and aroma dances in the palate, but when you take a sip of Hennessy V.S.O.P, everything changes,” he explains in the video. “When the smooth of cognac hits the tongue, it intensifies the heat of the gulai, and brings an elegance to the rich coconut that’s used. The spices are heightened and finishes with lingering note of citrus.”

In addition, Chef Poernomo also reimagined his dad’s famous rendang through the creation of his own Roasted Pumpkin Rendang. He shares that the heat of the rendang, the rich roasted coconut and the spices of the dish is accentuated by Hennessy V.S.O.P. “You’d never expect Hennessy V.S.O.P’s soft notes of oak and vanilla with a touch of light spice in the tongue is the perfect pairing with rendang,” Chef Poernomo elaborates. “This accentuates the heat and aroma of the rendang, where I can taste the richness of the roasted coconut and the sweetness of the pumpkin. A cognac’s complexity is what makes it so special.”

Ultimately, as he shows us the dishes in this collaborative venture with Hennessy V.S.O.P, we thought it would be nice to hear more about everything directly from the man behind it.

DAMAN: We understand that you’ve made your own version of Ayam Gulai. What’s the story behind this dish?
Reynold Poernomo:
I’ve never really been taught by my parents how to cook Indonesian cuisine and this is one of my childhood favorites that my mom used to make for me, and I’ve taken my own spin to it. It’s a dish that I can proudly serve at my restaurant.

DAMAN: How did Hennessy V.S.O.P inspire this menu?
Reynold Poernomo: It gave me an inspiration to transform a traditional dish, my childhood dish, into a modern style that stays true to its flavors with elevated techniques to make it my own.

DAMAN: Can you elaborate on how the Hennessy V.S.O.P plays a role in elevating the taste of this dish?
Reynold Poernomo: My version of the Ayam Gulai is both rich, fragrant, and the tenderness of the chicken absorbs all the flavors. It’s mildly spicy on the palate, but with Hennessy V.S.O.P served on the rocks, it cools everything down. The flavors of the cognac cleanses the palate and compliments the fragrant herbs used in the dish.

DAMAN: On the other hand, you’ve also made roasted pumpkin rendang to pair with Hennessy V.S.O.P. Can you also elaborate on your inspiration behind the dish?
Reynold Poernomo:
So, my dad’s rendang is infamous at home. I learned his way of making rendang and it’s almost a 1:1 ratio of chili to spices, which makes his version crazy spicy. I’ve made a few different versions and noticed that this dry curry without the beef is already so tasty, and it’s vegetarian. So, I thought to modernize this dish where a true rendang can be the forefront flavor of a dish that can be translated in a western culture.

DAMAN: As we know, rendang is usually made of meat and not pumpkin. What is your goal with creating this dish?
Reynold Poernomo: Without the meat, it’s a flavorful curry that is vegetarian, and Australian culture loves the flavor of some vegetarian-friendly dishes. And well, who doesn’t? Pumpkin in a lot of vegetarian dishes has been a meat replacement as it’s quite dense, rich and the sweetness of it rounds flavors of the rendang. It brings down the heat and richness.

DAMAN: How exactly could cognac, specifically Hennessy V.S.O.P, elevate this dish?
Reynold Poernomo:
Rendang is no ordinary curry, it’s a dry curry that is slowly cooked until the coconut milk is split and caramelizes, which created a really rich flavor from the roasted coconuts. Hennessy V.S.O.P’s notes of oak and vanilla pairs well with that caramelized coconut flavor, and especially the sweetness of the pumpkin. It doesn’t make the dish extremely spicy. It’s a balanced pairing that compliments each other, just as a good meal pairing should be.