Creating fusion food is interesting, but risky. At the end of the day, though, the taste is what matters. Wilson Tjandra started Burgushi (named for his combinations of burgers and sushi) when he was at university. He and two business partners opened a tiny kiosk in West Jakarta, where they experimented with different combinations in a bid to find some winners. The venture didn’t work out initially. His partners threw in the towel in late 2017, leaving Tjandra to handle everything by himself.
“We’re still friends, don’t worry,” he grins. “But at the time, it was difficult as I had to do everything myself. Still, I thought, this was fixable and I could figure it out. I didn’t want to give up just yet.” Tjandra’s grit and never-give-up attitude was inspired by his parents’ example. “I didn’t have much of an allowance when I was studying, so I had to get a part-time job,” he says. “And that’s what made me resilient. Working hard has been in my DNA since I was very young.”
Tjandra opened his first Burgushi eatery (“Creative burgers offered in a stylish, narrow setting with a cosy patio”) at Panglima Polim, South Jakarta at the beginning of last year. “I had zero restaurant management experience, but I took a risk and, thankfully, here we are now,” he says modestly. There are now 12 Burgushi outlets across Jakarta. Soon, he plans to add another brand, Nayam, to his portfolio. “This year, we are expanding so fast,” says Tjandra, “and yet just two years ago we almost failed. That’s a big milestone for me.”
Photographed by Joe Sabarto
40 UNDER 40: THE VANGUARDS LIST IS PRESENTED BY SULWHASOO, AS PUBLISHED IN PRESTIGE INDONESIA OCTOBER 2019 ISSUE.