“King of Tempe” Endorses USSEC’s Rumah Tempe
- General News
Javanese-born Rustono, known as the “King of Tempe,” recently returned to his home country of Indonesia from Kyoto, Japan. One of his first visits was to Rumah Tempe Indonesia (RTI). USSEC Indonesia’s Food Program Manager Technical Dady Maskar was there to welcome the “King of Tempe” to the only tempe training center in the world.
Rustono’s visit was facilitated by the Japan Indonesia Kaizen Center (JIK-C) with the objective of sharing his experience in developing and promoting tempe in Japan to the tempe producers in Bogor. His efforts in developing and promoting tempe in Japan has been covered both nationally and internationally. Rustono inspired many Indonesian tempe producers with his struggles and hard work to build his tempe business in Japan. He worked in a Japanese food factory for three years and started his own business although he initially had little knowledge of tempe, starting from scratch and teaching himself to make traditional tempe and failing many times. Rustono then returned to Java and visited about 40 tempe factories in Indonesian cities and villages, learning that each city or village had a different method and approach to making tempe. Finally discovering a method that worked for him, he began selling tempe to Indonesian expatriates living in Japan. Word spread quickly, and Rustono soon had Japanese people seeking out this new delicacy.
In Indonesia, tempe is widely available and inexpensive, which leads to it sometimes being overlooked. Rustono’s expertise, however, has contributed to him being invited to universities in Japan to speak as a guest lecturer. His brand, Rusto’s Tempeh, is extremely popular with his customers, 60 percent of whom are Japanese.
Rustono was very impressed with RTI as a center for excellence for tempe development in Indonesia. His discussions with Indonesian tempe producers inspired them to realize that marketing tempe as a healthy soyfood product can increase the value of tempe nationally and internationally. Rustono agreed to be featured in future seminars or talk shows to inspire as many people as possible on the health benefits of tempe and tempe as a sustainable source of income.