While many usually associate kebabs with the Mediterranean, the Middle East or South Asia, it might come as a surprise that the world’s largest kebab chain is actually from Indonesia!
That’s right, you read it correctly, the world’s biggest kebab business comes from a South East Asian country around 6300 miles away from Greece, 5600 from Turkey, 3600 from Pakistan and over 4,100 miles from the nearest Middle Eastern country.
Kebab Turki Baba Rafi was founded in 2003 by Hendy Setiono when he opened his first kebab cart with his wife Niam in Surabaya, Indonesia. Hendy was inspired on a trip to Qatar while visiting his father who was working for an oil company there.
He was impressed by how popularshwarma and doner kebabs—served from iconic rotating spits—were with both locals and tourists alike, and decided to recreate this concept back inhis home country. Hendy named the company “Kebab Turki Baba Rafi” taking the word “baba” which means father in Arabic and Turkish, and Rafi after his and Niam’s first child, Rafi Darmawan.
He also made some changes to the traditional kebab recipe by adding local ingredients to make his products more suitable to his South East Asian customer base, and in doing so, invented a new Indonesian style of kebab with an exciting original flavour.This helped to make his kebabsa success in the domestic market.
The venture was a huge hit and has since spread rapidly at home and abroad with indoor and outdoor outlets of varying sizes and styles including food carts, containers, booths, and shops, some of which operate on a 24-hour basis.
Kebab Turki is now a multimillion-dollar business with 1300 outlets in 10 countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, India, Brunei and the Netherlands.
The company have set out an ambitious and substantial vision “to be the largest, the most profitable and the most influential kebab chain in the world.” Kebab Turki intend to reach these goals “by upholding quality affordable meals with superior service to our franchisees and customers.”
The company are also proud oftheir philanthropic work and see this as one of their key values.“We are also devoted to improving our human resources andconsistently implementing socially responsible programs that support our communities and stakeholders” their mission statement explains.Kebab Turkirun a corporate social responsibility trainingprogramme as a part of this through their very own Baba Rafi Academy with the aim of creating an independent and successful generation of young entrepreneurs in Indonesia.
Kebab Turki Baba Rafi have had many outstanding achievements in under two decades and are already a well-established chain throughout Asia. After building a small presence in Europe too, one day British kebab-lovers may also get the chance to enjoy some of their Indonesian-style kebabs as well, here’s hoping.