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Where the East meets the West

The East meets the West in the Medora Rough Riders Hotel dining room where two executive chefs from Indonesia prepare and serve American cuisine with spices from Southeast Asia.

Herman Subaru from Bandung, Indonesia, returns to Medora for his second season. He is assisted by a new face in Medora this summer, Hanggoro Lekso of Cipayung, Indonesia.

The dinner menu reflects their interest in American foods, but with a twist. Jumbo shrimp are dipped into the chefs coconut batter and served with a red curry sauce. Chopped buffalo steak is accompanied by a special brandy peppercorn sauce.

Beef ribeye with char crust spice is crowned with sautéed mushrooms and onions, and drizzled with the chefs own South American sauce.

Mushroom soup is the chefs homemade specialty, featuring button mushrooms, sautéed garlic and onions blended together in a seasoned cream base.

Grilled salmon is served with a sweet red bell pepper sauce, while walleye pike is served with a creamy basil sauce.

The executive chefs may enhance meals with Tai ginger or India ginger, red wine sauce, coconut batter or creamy Parmesan cheese sauce.

So many of the spices I brought to the West. I mix them together. Its a novel cuisine, he said.

Subaru is proud of his choice cuts of beef, which require no meat tenderizer before serving. But no matter what food is prepared, everything must be tasty and be presented properly.

The chefs also are interested in keeping their meals low fat and healthy.

The desserts vary each day with the cooks choice. Favorites include key lime pie, Black Forest cake and lava chocolate cake.

The chefs are creative in preparing the food.

You must use your imagination, said Subaru.

His favorite dish to prepare is American cuisine, but his favorite food is the mango.

Subaru has an impressive work experience, starting with graduation from chef school and hotel management in Frankfurt, Germany. In deciding upon a profession, he knew that people had to eat and he learned an executive chef could earn a higher income than a lawyer.

He worked a year in Europe before coming to America in 1980 to obtain experience at a hotel in Dallas, Texas.

When I came to America, I started from the bottom, he said. I worked as an assistant, second cook and first cook.

Subaru also worked for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tenn., the Holiday Inn and the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, Ill.

He was promoted to an executive chef in 1988.

He left America in 1990 to open the Grand Hyatt in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. After a year, he opened the first Sheridan Hotel in Lampung, Indonesia. In 1993,, he opened the Century Hotel, owned by the United Kingdom, in Japan.

In 1994 I became general manager for a local hotel and resort in Indonesia, he said.

In 1995 I joined the cruise line. I started a job with the cruise line Celebrity out of Miami, he said.

He went on to work as an executive chef on a Disney cruise line and a Japanese cruise line, for a total of 10 years.

Returning to Jakarta, Subaru learned of an opening at a hotel in Medora.

Where is North Dakota, he asked.

Doing research into the area, Subaru accepted the job.

I was tired of the big city, he said.

His wife has joined him in Medora, while their son, 17, and daughter, 15, remain in Indonesia.

Next summer, I would like to bring them here, he said.

His daughter may enroll at Dickinsons Trinity High School, while his son may attend Dickinson State University.

Lekso brings years of diverse cooking experience to Medora. His talents have taken him from the hotel and restaurant industry to catering for airlines and off-shore oil companies.

He studied cooking in Malaysia and Singapore and came to America in 1989.

He worked as a bus boy at the Holiday Inn in Corpus Christi, Texas, and prepared salads for hotels in Dallas.

He returned to Indonesia in 1990, married and started working as a chef for the Bali Hilton on the Bali Island.

He later became executive chef for the Shelradom Hotel in Lampung, Indonesia, and then was a catering manager for a factory canteen in his home village.

His catering experience continued for off-shore oil rigs in the Indonesia area.

His work experience also included a job of catering for the Saudi airline and preparing food for the pilgrims staying at the Hilton Hotel in Mecca.

One day, a family came in, wanting to have a cook for his home. He asked me if I was interested and I took this job, he said.

He worked for the Saudi royal family for about a year.

It was a good experience and I made some money, he said.

In 1999, he opened a restaurant at Cipayung, Indonesia. He was forced to close the restaurant a year later because of rent conflicts.

It took down my spirit, he said.

His next career move took him to a Papbua jungle camp, where he catered food for the men exploring for gas.

A friend introduced him to Medora as being a North Dakota resort town in need of a chef.

To me, the place was quiet and could provide good experience, he said.

He accepted the position as assistant executive chef.

His favorite dish to prepare is steamed lobster with butter and his favorite cooking ingredient is cayenne pepper. If it could be any food, he would select beef.

Lekso is happy to be in Medora, but he is anxious to bring his wife and two grown daughters to America.

Winston Satran, vice president of operations for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, was instrumental in getting the two chefs to Medora.

About four years ago, the foundation made a decision to diversify, he said.

In the past four years weve had 29 differrent nationalities, he said.

About 18 months ago, he went to Indonesia to recruit workers for various jobs within the foundation.

We see it as excellent relations between the two countries, he said.

He is especially pleased to have Subaru and Lekso working at the hotel.

They have such great skills and training. Theyve cooked for the major hotels in the United States, he said.

Its really a plus for Medora, he said. People are excited about the Rough Riders Hotel again.

The dining room is open for breakfast from 7-10:30 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and dinner from 5-9 p.m.