Juna Rorimpandey: Indonesia's wildest, hell-raising chef

Juna Rorimpandey: Indonesia's wildest, hell-raising chef

Drug overdoses, jail time, street fights, kidnapped ... the executive chef of Jakarta's Jackrabbit reveals his shocking past

Juna Rorimpandey - Jakarta’s JackrabbitIndonesian chef Juna Rorimpandey, 35, describes himself as "the black crayon in the box."

“But you can’t help noticing the black crayon!” he says, laughing.

The heavily tattooed, Harley-riding executive chef at trendy new lounge Jackrabbit has been turning heads with his clever dishes. His Monte Cristo sandwich with homemade jam or the spinach pappardelle with a kick of chili are stunning. 

But, as we discovered, it's his rebellious past that marks him out from the crowd. 

CNNGo: How fast have you gone on your Harley?

Juna Rorimpandey: Maybe 110 miles per hour. I don’t really pay attention.

I started riding Harleys back in 1992, when I was 17 years old. I was quite the rebel. We used to have this group, Bad Bones, and I was one of the founders. We were pretty scary, we rode fast, we didn’t care where we went.

I’m one of those guys who likes an adrenaline rush. I do a lot of stupid, silly adventures, and riding bikes is one of them.

CNNGo: When did you last break the law?

Juna Rorimpandey: A few months ago I bribed the cops for some stupid traffic violation.

The last time I got caught, though, was in the United States at the end of 2006. A street fight. It was like the show “Cops,” when you try to take off and cops are coming from all directions, and they throw guns on you.

It was an everybody on the ground kind of deal, and we were all handcuffed in the middle of the street.

CNNGo: What was it about?

Juna Rorimpandey: My friend was in a car accident and the guys he rear-ended beat him up, so he called us and when we got there it was already a fight, so we just jumped in.

Unluckily, I had to be the one who pushed the envelope. I went to jail for two days, had a court trial, probation, community service because I got pinned the hardest. I pretty much demolished the other guy’s car, a BMW.

In the States I used to be a sushi master and customers would buy us drinks. The more we got tipsy the faster we would make sushi.
—Juna Rorimpandey, chef

CNNGo: What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?

Juna Rorimpandey: Uhhhh, I’ve been kidnapped; tortured; almost got shot in the head; overdosed and woke up in the hospital still foaming from my mouth, needle still hanging in my vein while I was passed out.

You name it. I’ve lost count. There’s nothing cool about that. I had my crazy years.

CNNGo: What were you kidnapped for?

Juna Rorimpandey: I have a strong personality and I don’t bow down just because you’re the son of a general and you try to buy me. But that was before, now I’m wiser.

CNNGo: How drunk have you been at work?

Juna Rorimpandey: In the States I used to be a sushi master and customers would buy us drinks. The more we got tipsy the faster we would make sushi.

Actually, I enforce drinking at work on weekends. Every Friday or Saturday when the guys do a great job I make shots for everybody.

They call it the speed rail shot because I mix up everything on the [bar]. To me it’s nothing, but I have to challenge them with rock-paper-scissors just to get them to drink. It’s silly, but life is short.

CNNGo: You no longer do drugs or smoke, even though most of your friends do. Why?

Juna Rorimpandey: I’m always the different kid. I never followed the trend. People say it’s hard to quit smoking, but I think that’s a bunch of BS. To me it’s all in the mind.

I have a strong personality and I don’t bow down.
— Juna Rorimpandey, chef

CNNGo: What would you love to tell diners who complain about the food?

Juna Rorimpandey: I have no comment. I’m not an asshole about that kind of thing.

CNNGo:You love working with meat, so what do you think of vegetarians?

Juna Rorimpandey: I don’t understand the talk behind it because I’m a cannibal; I eat everything.

Anything that God created, you can kill it and eat it, as long as you kill and eat it and don’t just kill it for fun. I’m not really religious, but it does say in the Bible that you’re the master of all living things on this Earth, as long as you don’t abuse that.

CNNGo: Who would be your three fantasy dinner guests?

Juna Rorimpandey: Anthony Bourdain, just because he’s a rebel. And then probably two of my favorite chefs, Thomas Keller [from French Laundry] and Marco Pierre White. He made [Gordon Ramsey] cry. Now there’s a bad boy in the kitchen.

CNNGo: Have you ever made anybody cry?

Juna Rorimpandey: Yes. I made somebody here quit on the spot just because I slammed a wall that happened to be made of stainless steel. I don’t do that often. It was just a terrible lunch service.

CNNGo: One thing you will never put in a dish and why?

Juna Rorimpandey: I’ll use anything.

CNNGo: Your tattoos draw a lot of attention. What’s special about them?

Juna Rorimpandey: I had my back started when I was 15 in Bali; it was a homemade machine with a single sewing needle. It was really primitive.

This one [on my right shin] is three chefs, a French executive chef, an American burger flipper and a Japanese sushi master, so it kind of resembles me, all the three combined.

getting there

Cyber 2 Tower, Jl Rasuna Said Blok X-5 No. 13, Jakarta
tel +62 021 2902 1357

Sara has lived in Thailand and Cambodia and currently lives in Jakarta, Indonesia. She likes to keep moving and uses these pages to write about the exciting things she learns along the way.

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