Behind the Dessert King’s princely look and creative genius – is a story of dedication and self discovery. 

Reynold Poernomo of KOI Dessert Bar

the beginning.

Revolutionary desserts, fame and an aspiration for food hadn’t always been on Reynold’s mind when he was growing up. To him, food, cooking and hospitality was like playing soccer to Brazilians; he simply grew up with it. His parents had been working hard within the industry as far as he can remember, for them, working early mornings and late nights were a norm.

From a young age, his parents tried to steer him away from the hospitality industry due to the long hours and hard labor. Despite the discouragement from his parents, Reynold had an instinctive passion for food. You can say it is in the blood.

So when it came time to pick a career path, he wanted to combine his interests and food. “Throughout high school, I did my research and I got really into fitness. From there, I thought: what else can I do that involves food? And that was nutrition,” Reynold explained.

While he was committed to becoming a nutritionist, Reynold would continue to study and improve his knowledge on the creation of new dishes due to his passion for food and cooking.

“I would just be looking at cookbooks, watching videos on YouTube like the Harvard lectures where chefs came in and showed the science of cooking and that was really amazing,” says Reynold.

This period of self discovery was when he decided to audition for MasterChef. It was an opportunity to work on his craft with the possibility that it might provide clarity for his future career. However, what followed was beyond his wildest imagination.

From that pivotal moment, his life started to move quickly. After months of dazzling Australians with his creativity and being crowned “The Dessert King”, Reynold discovered his true passion for the future. The clarity from this self discovery became the KOI Dessert Bar.

With KOI, Reynold is able to freely create new concepts and challenge the status quo within the dessert industry. With the addition of the Ryde store that doubles up as a classroom, countless cooking collaborations with culinary superstars and hundreds of thousands of fans on social media, Reynold is excited about the future and is looking forward to raising the bar even higher.

 “I’m not bound to a singular cuisine or a singular idea. I want my concepts to be flexible”

desserts + inspiration.

For Reynold, being crowned ‘The Dessert King’ and running KOI Dessert Bar and KOI Dessert Kitchen meant greater responsibilities and expectations. Luckily, his unrelenting passion for food allows him to consistently innovate and produce new and exciting additions to the KOI menu.

When Reynold seeks inspiration for new ideas, he begins with an analytical approach as opposed to spontaneous bursts of creativity. I would say he is more of a scientist than an artist.

Because his family works in the hospitality industry, Reynold will often find himself alone in the house. Over time, he began reading the cookbooks that were lying around the house, which helped open him to a new world of food including molecular gastronomy. Books like ‘Alinea’ by Grant Achatz and ‘elBulli’ by Ferran Adrià explored the possibilities of food within a progressive, modernist style of cuisine, and helped to inspire the processes, tastes and textures of Reynold’s desserts.

For Reynold, creativity comes from embracing a variety of different ideas and fusing them together. “I’m not bound to a singular cuisine or a singular idea. I want my concepts to be flexible,” says Reynold. For example, a concept that sounds terrible, such as chocolate and potato chips, may in fact taste amazing when combined with other ingredients like tea or caramel. “In a way it works out. It’s all relative,” Reynold says.

Currently, he finds inspiration from nature and everyday surroundings. “I like making things that are natural and almost rustic-looking, like a garden, or something that you can dig through and find surprises in. I want my desserts to be fun.”

“Be certain, and stay unsatisfied”

a drive to succeed: behind the fame.

For all his successes, Reynold credits his mum, Ike, as being one of the most important source of inspiration. “My mum is definitely the centre point, I mean, KOI itself stands for Kids Of Ike.” Reynold understands the hardships his mother went through and uses that as motivation to keep working harder.

Despite all his accomplishments, his fame and his fans, Reynold remains grounded and strives for practical ways to achieve his goals. When pursuing a passion, Reynold believes that choosing something you’re good at is more important than something you like.

“I like fitness, I like gaming, but am I making a career out of those two things? I’m not. The career for me is in food because it’s what I’m good at.” Reynold explained, whilst admitting that he was blessed that he is good at something that he also likes.

Following the successful opening of KOI Dessert Kitchen in Ryde, Reynold already has plans to start new ventures. Upcoming projects include the opening of a new bar called the Funkiest Corner with his brother Arnold and a conceptual dining experience cuisine. Rather than relishing on his achievements, Reynold looks forward to new challenges and accomplishing bigger goals.

“Be certain, and stay unsatisfied” he says. “I wouldn’t say that my dream is achieved yet, to be honest, at all. So always stay hungry. And when you achieve a goal, that shouldn’t be your ultimate goal. Your ultimate goal should be a lot further.”

Despite all his talents, Reynold deploys unrelenting work ethic to achieve his goals. MasterChef may have elevated him to stardom, but behind the Dessert King fame, is a hard working man that is always hungry for more.

Journo for ECX Magazine

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