Tristan Balian, Chef

Posted on 5 September, 2012

Tristan grew up on Sydney’s northern beaches where he trained as a chef through TAFE. His first real taste of Indonesia came from his experience in the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program after which – hooked – he moved to Bali to work. Tristan, who has now been working in Indonesia for over three years, is currently the Executive Chef of Social House, one of Jakarta’s busiest and most popular restaurants.

According to Tristan, there were two key factors that got him his current job. First, his ability to cook. Second, his ability to work well with Indonesian staff and deliver high-quality products and service to customers. Given that most of his staff have very little English, Tristan almost exclusively communicates in Indonesian at work.

Although working as a chef in Indonesia has presented a series of cultural challenges for Tristan – long hours 6 days a week, different concepts of hygiene and health, varying staff ability – it has been a rewarding journey.

Tristan’s advice for those looking to land a hospitality gig in Indonesia: “There are lots of opportunities here in you are willing to work hard and make sacrifices. Employers love Australians’ hard-working attitude and our willingness to adapt to different cultures, and, in my case, taste buds…If you are 100 per cent certain that you want to work in Indonesia, come over first for a few weeks to check out the working environment for your industry. Make sure you always develop connections in your industry, as these can be more helpful than any employment agency or online job hunting.”

A final piece of advice from Tristan, working in Indonesia is not necessarily all beer and skittles. Someone who is employed by the Australian government or working in the finance industry will have a different lifestyle, expectations and attitude to an expat who is employed as a local staff member or is on minimum wage.

Got any questions for Tristan – shoot him an email at Tristan.balian@gmail.com.