My Sundanese grandmother was what some people would call a penyembuh. She was a healer in her heart, and somehow – I guess through her ancestors – knew just what combinations of roots, herbs and rice would heal or soothe any health problem. When I would fall and cut myself, she would apply a mixture of rice and roots, and the cut would heal within days.
The root she was using was kencur, which I now know has proven medicinal properties. My grandmother never used any form of formal medicine, but I can assure you her treatments worked. And she knew the specifics, the tiniest details – like a scientist she knew what needed to be used fresh, or what needed to be boiled and for how long, to extract the healing powers or cancel out toxins.
The best thing was that she told everyone what she was using, and how they could find it and use it themselves. She shared her knowledge of healthy eating and lived for helping others find their way to wellbeing, naturally. I am lucky to have inherited that. And so after I did my basic training in Jakarta restaurant kitchens, I moved to Ubud a couple of years ago when it began to emerge as a center for healing food.
I enjoyed some time at Sari Organik, but jumped at the chance to start at Taksu two years ago. Taksu’s holistic approach to health and wellness matches mine in many ways. They grow their own herbs, plants and vegetables – many Indonesian natives – in aquaponic gardens that are naturally cared for, with no chemical pesticides.
The opening and success of Fresh, Taksu’s raw and vegan restaurant that showcases a lot of my rawfood, is by far the highlight of my career. It’s so great to see guests with no background in raw or vegan eating come to Fresh and be happy to discover new tastes and new ideas. Some of them even asked how to make some of the dishes back home, so I now teach a rawfood class twice a week at Taksu.
It’s a full circle thing – like my grandmother, I’m teaching people how to be healthier by using simple, local ingredients in surprising ways. I just get to share the knowledge with people from all over the world – which is even better!
Chef Arif Springs is the rawfood chef at Taksu, Ubud. His rawfood classes are at 1pm Wednesday and Saturdays, please book two days in advance. Taksu: Jl Goutama Selatan, Ubud. (0361) 971 490 or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.taksu.org