From Jakarta to Osoyoos, via the USA and Fort Nelson, Andri Firmansyah has seen a lot of the world. Now, as second cook at the Holiday Inn and Suites Osoyoos, he’s enjoying the fast-paced kitchen work along with one of the best views in the Okanagan.
Firmansyah, 30, is originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, where he completed a four-year tourism diploma before launching a small bakery business. He’s also travelled, working in several US states before landing a restaurant job in Fort Nelson, BC in the fall of 2013. By spring, he was ready for a move south and has been at the Holiday Inn’s Sol Grill Room ever since.
Because the Sol Grill is a fine dining, dinner-only restaurant, Firmansyah works afternoons and evenings. Most of the time he’s in the kitchen, chopping vegetables, preparing appetizers and making sauces ahead of the dinner hour, and helping the first cook when things get busy. It’s a small kitchen with just four staff in winter and up to six in summer, so everyone multitasks.
“It’s a small restaurant and I’ve had experience as a server, so I also work in the front of the house sometimes,” he explains.
Firmansyah enjoys both sides of restaurant work: the creativity in the kitchen and the chance to interact with guests in the dining room.
“The best part of the job is when you create something for the customer and they’re happy with it. They leave smiling and they plan to come back. Of course, sometimes you’ll have a bad day. Maybe the equipment doesn’t work properly or you get busy all of a sudden and you don’t have enough staff. But in the kitchen, you have to do what you have to do,” he says.
“If you want to work in a kitchen in the tourism industry the first thing is your attitude. You can’t have a bad day at home and bring it to work. But if you love your job, everything is easier. And don’t give up: some chefs will really push hard, but they’re the ones you can learn the most from.”
Formal training helps, but experience is critical, Firmansyah adds. “In a kitchen, you can start from the bottom and work your way up. I started as a dishwasher and then moved up, from prep cook to third cook, to second cook.”
Firmansyah plans to go further, ideally to a Red Seal certification and, ultimately, his own business. And, although he’s willing to relocate for more opportunities, he does have a soft spot for Osoyoos.
“It’s nice here,” he says. “It’s the warmest place in Canada, and the people are so friendly and laid back.”