How This Graduate Balances Life as a Brilliant Chef and a Beauty Queen

This article is sponsored by Le Cordon Bleu

Windy Wulandari might just be the queen of multitasking. Not only is she a talented chef, but she is also juggling duties as a contestant in Miss World Australia 2020. “I don’t see many chefs applying for beauty pageants, and this is one of the reasons why I compete,” she says.

Windy was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, but grew up in Medan, North Sumatra. She relocated to Australia in 2014 to pursue her passion for food and become a trained chef. Windy found it relatively easy settling into her new life in Australia. When asked what she loves most about the country, she’s quick to mention the diversity – she enjoys learning about cultural differences from the people she meets. 

“It wasn’t hard for me to settle down in Australia. Since I was a little girl, my parents and I travelled quite often to Melbourne and Tasmania, and I fell in love with the environment and how friendly people are here.”

Learning with the best

When deciding what to study, Windy struggled at first. But once she realised that Le Cordon Bleu Sydney offered a Grand Diplôme in Commercial Cookery and Patisserie, she jumped at the chance to be in the course. 

“My initial idea was to study in Paris, but unfortunately my dad didn’t like the thought of being far away from me,” she says. 

Instead, Windy decided on Australia, which made her dad happy as it was closer to her home in Indonesia. She met many experienced chefs at Le Cordon Bleu and learned numerous tips and tricks throughout her course. 

But it wasn’t only the chefs who made it a memorable experience for Windy; she also gives credit to her colleagues and tutors: “The colleagues that I met were friendly and very diverse. I gained an understanding of their cultures. In addition, the staff at Le Cordon Bleu were very helpful and friendly.” 

Windy shared some of her favourite work experiences with us and reminisced on her first summer job in 2014. She worked at Edition Coffee Roasters in Sydney, where she learned about Nordic and Japanese fusion dishes. Following that, her first industry placement with Le Cordon Bleu was as a chef at Qantas’s first-class lounge in Sydney International Airport. 

“I believe that was my first real kitchen experience,” she says. “I was scared at first, but the chefs were friendly and taught me a lot. For the first three months, I was in the prep section, and the last three months, I was doing dinner shift larder and the dessert section.” 

Working in paradise

In November 2017, Windy got a job as a breakfast chef at one of the best resorts on Hamilton Island, working with chef Douglas Innes – something she considers a big honour. Afterward, she worked as a pastry chef in an Italian restaurant for seven months, where she received praises for her creations. “My tiramisu was the bomb!” she says.

Last year, Windy worked as a pastry chef alongside chef Jack Mason at a Mexican restaurant, where she had the opportunity to develop a dessert menu. “I created a dessert called ‘Spice Layered Cake’ consisting of gluten-free spicy sponge cake (a mixture of cayenne pepper, cinnamon and chocolate powder), chocolate soil and avocado mousse (with agave syrup), topped with vanilla ice cream.” 

Juggling two lives

It was while Windy was actively working as a chef that she decided to enter Miss World Australia 2020. She found it a bit tricky balancing both of her duties, but ultimately decided it was worth the effort.

“I want to cut the stigma [of chefs competing],” she says. “Even though you are working as a chef, dedicating most of your time in the kitchen, sweating like crazy, you only live once, [so] do things that make you happy.”

Through her influence in the pageant, Windy hopes to show off Indonesian culture and food, and promote diversity.

Looking to the future

Windy has big plans for the future, with a move to Melbourne on the cards. She also has ambitions to join more beauty pageants where she can share positive messages around anti-bullying – something she strongly advocates. She’s even set her sights on applying to a modelling agency and creating a YouTube channel dedicated to her love of food.

“My ultimate dream is to work at Australia’s best restaurant, Attica, and work with Australia’s best chefs,” she says. “I hope to open my own restaurant one day, travel around the world and host a TV food series.”