Hi, My Name Is: Barry Susanto

Published on 11 April 2021

Photo: Warkop chef and proprietor Barry Susanto

This former Navi chef is putting his passion for Indonesian chicken into a unique new kind of sandwich at Warkop.

Barry Susanto was born in Jakartaand moved to Melbourne in 2011, which, he says, is when his cooking journey began. "Without the ability to speak English when I arrived in Australia, learning about the local culinary scene was very challenging, but I persevered and, while juggling both work and cooking school, I realised that cooking gave me an immense amount of joy, and it brings out a creative side of me that I never knew I had." Susanto says that his passion for food and cooking has taken over his life, taking him on travels all over the world, seeking out flavour.

Now at Warkop, the venue he has opened on Risley Street in Richmond, he brings it all home in a casual eatery that puts the taste of Indonesia to the fore in sandwiches, while weaving in other strands of his culinary experience.

You might remember me from such establishments as Dukes in Windsor, Luxbite, Hellenic Republic and Restaurant Navi.

I’ve been cooking for 11 years, all in Victoria.

My brief for my new gig is a combination of my childhood in Indonesia and my experience with cooking in Melbourne’s food scene. I’m creating an interesting and (I think) flavoursome menu, involving artisan sandwiches with an Indonesian flair. Thanks to lockdown, I discovered how much I enjoy making unique sandwiches, and after spending more than six months playing around with new ideas at Navi for staff meal, I knew I was onto a winner.

I’m passionate about sustainability. Working at Restaurant Navi with Julian Hills over the last three years, I have had my perspective on sustainability completely altered. I believe in allowing fresh and local ingredients to speak for themselves, and with Warkop, I would like to have a focus on this approach to cooking.

Which means I’ll be serving things like grilled chicken with Taliwang spices, which is comes from Lombok, and the classic gado-gado with peanut sauce as a vegan option. Most of our ingredients used at Warkop will be sustainable and locally sourced.

I’d like you to come in and see us so you can experience what Warkop means. In Bahasa Indonesia it’s an abbreviation for 'warung kopi', which translates to a small coffee shop. It’s a place for a casual hangout, where they have little bites and coffee, or even a quick lunch. Erwin (my business partner) and I will ensure that you’ll get the closest Warkop experience in Melbourne through our coffee and sandwiches, your experience enriched by the design of our shopfront.

And if there’s one thing I don’t want you to leave without trying it’s our chicken sandwich. There’s not another chicken sandwich like it in Australia that I know about. We marinate the chicken in our special spice blend (sand ginger and shrimp paste are among the key ingredients), pressure cook it, then grill it. I’ve only ever been able to find this dish in Lombok. I first discovered chicken Taliwang about 10 years ago – I was in Lombok for a five-day family trip, and I just had to eat this dish every single day. I’ve cooked it many times for my friends here in Melbourne, and every time I host a dinner party it's what everyone asks me to make. It's something that can’t really be described, so I insist you come in to try it for yourself; you won't leave disappointed.

Warkop, 12 Risley St, Richmond, 03 9939 9678, warkop.com.au, @warkop_melbourne.

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