Hailing from the royal family of Mangkunegaran in Solo, Central Java, Tata — she is the regional developer at KX Pilates — has studied and lived in Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. Now based here, the mother of two — son Darma is 21 while daughter Aya is 19 — can easily pass off as her children’s sister with her svelte figure and youthful face, which she attributes to constant exercise and pilates. “I was intrigued that it was the only exercise that could relieve my nagging back pains,” she says, adding that she stumbled upon pilates by accident. “I was looking around for something to do and went to a franchise fair. As fate would have it, I shared a lunch table with the owner of KX Pilates and we just clicked.” That chance encounter eventually led to a professional partnership between the two, with Tata becoming the first overseas franchisee of the business, which opened its doors in Jakarta last year.
Our lunch date is at French fine diner Restaurant JAG, founded by managing director Anant Tyagi and chef Jeremy Gillon, who used to work at the now-defunct one-Michelin-starred restaurant L’Épicurien in Val Thorens. An intimate 18-seater, Restaurant JAG offers alpine‐influenced cuisine that is inspired by the traditions, flavours and ingredients of the chef’s hometown in the Savoie region of the French Alps. Jeremy creates his menus starting with vegetables, followed by herbs, which are also used in all his seasonings, sauces and garnishes to bring out the flavours. Meats provide the final protein crunch in each elegant dish.
We try the five‐course A Breed Apart menu, which is specially curated for Jaguar owners (Tata drives a Jaguar XF) and is refreshed quarterly. Non-Jaguar owners can select from the menu’s 3, 5, 7 and 10 Expressions sets, served omakase-style.
“I like the open kitchen, which creates an inviting private dining experience where you can view the chef and his team in action. I also like the chef’s playlist,” says Tata.
The delicately plated dishes, she adds, are “light, but bursting with flavours. The smoky toasted sesame seeds added crunch to the Grenoble trout and asparagus dish, and the melt-in-your- mouth milk-fed lamb from New Zealand wasn’t gamey and didn’t need any puree or sauce to go with it.
“And the bell pepper sauce and cucumber ice cream for dessert! I died and went to heaven,” she says, laughing.
You seem to enjoy your food. Can you tell us what’s your favourite cuisine?
I love Spanish food, especially paella! I recently started to cook Spanish cuisine during my extensive visits around Spain, which I travel to two or three times a year, spending between two weeks and one month there each time.
And your favourite restaurant?
I could eat at Marea in New York every day. Its speciality is the fusilli with braised octopus in red wine and bone marrow, but everything on the menu is really good! Keep your eyes peeled for celebs — the upscale two-Michelin-starred restaurant seems to be a hotspot for stars on low‐key dates.
Is there any food item you absolutely must travel with?
I seldom travel with food items. Not even chilli sauce as most, well, all, Indonesians do. I bring a whole luggage of food back though.
Which celebrity chefs do you admire?
Nigella Lawson, because she makes eating look good! Her recipes are very straight forward and easy to follow, which is how cooking should be. She looks like she’s having a lot of fun when cooking. By the way, her desserts are amazing; I have tried a few of her recipes. Another celebrity chef I like is Rachel Ray. I like to watch people who have fun in their jobs. Cooking while enjoying it — food brings people together.
Are there any restaurants you’d recommend?
I usually discover the best places in the world to eat by talking to or making friends with the locals — they will tell you the best places to eat. Here’s a list of restaurants that I recommend to my friends.
Boca Rica (Jakarta, Indonesia): This is a Spanish tapas bar that was opened by my son.
Boca Grande (Barcelona, Spain): The beef tartare is amazing!
MUU Steakhouse (Porto, Portugal): It only has nine tables so better book early! The menu is not extensive but the cheese gratin cooked inside a huge Angus beef bone marrow is a must-try!
El Nacional (Barcelona, Spain): This is an institution on its own. Good for pre-dinner drinks and oysters.
Luke’s Oyster Bar & Chop House (Singapore): The kale salad and chocolate chip cookie are must-haves.
Gramercy Tavern (New York, USA): The char chicken breast and thigh dish is delicious and service is impeccable.
Sushi Kuu (Hong Kong): Chef Mukogawa Satoru is eccentric, and there is no way to do this but omakase style.
Aura (Singapore): For the rooftop bar ambience and the amazing menu.
Any healthy snacks that you recommend?
Last year, I tried the Keto diet for four months. It worked well for me; I actually went down by two sizes. At first it was difficult to find cookies and chocolate with no sugar. So I started to search for recipes on Pinterest on how to make sugar-free cookies. I started baking my own chocolate chip cookies and experimenting with different flours like almond, cashew or hazelnut. It is super healthy because it is low in carbs and practically sugar-free. Other healthy snacks I have around the house are seaweed and blueberries.