Hennessy V.S.O.P Presents: Up Close and Personal with Chef Reynold Poernomo

A brief chat with Chef Reynold Poernomo who shares with us his personal journey and his true passion in the culinary arts, while hinting at his upcoming collaboration with Hennessy V.S.O.P to highlight his Indonesian heritage in an exquisite meal pairing experience

Things are heating up at Chef Reynold Poernomo’s kitchen. Recently, he announced on his Instagram account that he’s collaborating with Hennessy, particularly for the Hennessy V.S.O.P, in bringing his Indonesian heritage to life. As can be expected, the collaboration will center around the idea of meal pairings using the famed cognac. Furthermore, in keeping with the Indonesian heritage angle, the French spirit will be paired with Indonesian dishes, thereby showcasing just how versatile Hennessy V.S.O.P can be while, at the same time, challenging the chef’s exceptional palate and culinary creativity.

Of course, if you happen to catch this talented chef on YouTube, TV, or even Instagram, you will notice that Poernomo is a true master in crafting imaginative food. He first gained public attention as a contestant on season seven of “MasterChef Australia.” Poernomo then returned for season 12—known as “MasterChef Australia: Back to Win”—and was awarded the title of “Dessert King” for his performance.

After establishing his credentials as a master chef in his own right, Poernomo opened KOI Dessert Bar restaurant as well as Monkey’s Corner—Sydney’s first bar for inventive and playfully-creative drinks, paired with modern Japanese food together with his brothers Chef Arnold Poernomo and Ronald Poernomo.

As he gears up for his team up with Hennessy V.S.O.P and before he shows us the dishes as well as the recipes he prepared for this collaborative venture, we thought it would be nice to explore his personal journey in the culinary arts.

DAMAN: Hi, Reynold! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and where, when and how you learned to cook?
Reynold Poernomo: I fell in love with cooking when I was 14. It’s basically from watching cooking shows and also my mom had a lot of cookbooks laying around at home, even though these cookbooks weren’t your typical classic three to five ingredient recipes or simple bakes. The books that my mom collected were high end, sophisticated and had a lot of story and art embedded in them. I grew to love the artistic side of cooking, the storytelling and creativity.

DAMAN: What was it like growing up in a family full of people who are passionate about food and cooking?
Reynold Poernomo:
It’s not what you’d typically think. A lot of people would assume I grew up with a lot of delicious food; however, it was the opposite. My parents would be working, so there wasn’t really anyone there to cook for us growing up.

DAMAN: When did you first realize that you had an interest and talent in the culinary arts?
Reynold Poernomo:
When recipes would work for me and how excited I was about it. The simple things of learning new techniques and being fascinated with the way food can be manipulated. Also the frustration of recipes that failed; it showed my burning passion for cooking.

DAMAN: What do you value the most as a chef?
Reynold Poernomo:
The discipline and road to perfection. Being a perfectionist and finding every little detail to improve on is what every chef should strive for. It’s the only way to become a better chef. Never be satisfied.

DAMAN: What inspires you to be creative all the time? What’s your creative process like as a chef?
Reynold Poernomo:
Being bored easily, I never seem to just create and be satisfied. I constantly want to find the next best thing or the next masterpiece. I love to work with colors as it gives me a guide, as well as tell stories of my childhood or life through experiences and translate that onto the plate.

DAMAN: In a nutshell, how would you describe your professional journey so far?
Reynold Poernomo: In short, it’s like a roller coaster, just as anyone would describe their life. I feel like I haven’t reached the peak of my professional journey. I still feel like I’ve got so much more to learn and still discovering and maturing my style of cuisine.

DAMAN: We heard that you’re about to launch a Meal Pairing campaign with Hennessy V.S.O.P. Can you tell us a bit more about that? In particular, what is it about this cognac that piqued your interest?
Reynold Poernomo: I enjoy my spirits, and cognac especially. Pairing drinks with meals is always done with wine, but not so much with spirits in particular. So, partnering with Hennessy V.S.O.P is an incredible opportunity to showcase that even drinks like cognac—being so sophisticated—can also be quite versatile.

DAMAN: What is your goal with this collaboration with Hennessy V.S.O.P?
Reynold Poernomo: My personal goal is to share not just my story, but show that Hennessy V.S.O.P is a versatile drink that can be paired with a fragrant and spicy cuisine like Indonesian. Sure, it typically goes well with desserts or French cuisine but why not explore further? I want people to break the rules and try something new.