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Like Joko, but food is his calling

NO POLITICS FOR HIM: Mr Gibran (left) inspecting food prepared by his chefs. He struck out on his own instead of taking over the family furniture business. He has never been seen beside his father at a campaign event.


    Jun 26, 2014

    Like Joko, but food is his calling


    AT FIRST glance, Gibran Rakabuming Raka shares all the traits of his father, Indonesian presidential front runner Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

    Aside from his outwardly jovial and humble appearance, Mr Gibran, 26, also answers questions in much the same manner as his father - with modesty and brevity.

    But unlike Mr Joko, 53, who was a furniture retailer before becoming mayor of Surakarta, his business is food.

    On a Friday morning earlier this month, he was seen closely supervising his employees as they filled red boxes - stamped with his trademark Chilli Pari Catering logo - with freshly baked croquettes.

    Mr Gibran said the swan-shaped snack was one of the signature products of Chilli Pari, a business he established in 2010.

    "We are about to send these samples to local companies and hotels," he said.

    "Ramadan is coming soon and we want to inform potential clients that we have a special promotional package for the month."

    Mr Gibran said he found his calling as an entrepreneur at a young age.

    The eldest of three siblings, he said he drew up a detailed business plan when he was a university student, but his father was reluctant to support the idea.

    Mr Gibran, who spent more than eight years studying in Singapore and Sydney, took a bank loan to start his business after graduation.

    As he learnt the ropes of the business, he realised that despite his desire to sell only healthy food products, he had to cater to his customers' wishes.

    "During my first year in business, I insisted on not adding any MSG (monosodium glutamate) to my food. Consequently, I received a lot of complaints from customers, saying that the food was tasteless," he said.

    "Today, I let my customers decide whether they want MSG or not."

    Since he started the business, Chilli Pari has become one of the city's largest catering and wedding planning businesses.

    In a recent interview with MetroTV, Mr Joko said he had been a bit disappointed with his son's reluctance to take over the family furniture business.

    "He wanted to establish his own business from scratch and become independent. That was his personal choice. I would say I was (disappointed), but only for a little while," said Mr Joko, who is running against Prabowo Subianto in Indonesia's July 9 election.

    Mr Gibran has never been seen beside his father at a campaign event.

    "There's no point in asking me about politics since I know nothing about it," he said.

    "I'm here to make money - not a political career."