September 10 – Happy Birthday Donna Purnomo

Donna

Whenever I hear the maiden name of today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, the first memory that flashes in my mind is of her as a teenager, dressed in this full body dog costume playing the role of Nana, the Darling family’s irascible pet dog in Bert Derose’s 1969 AHS Drama Department’s production of Peter Pan. Donna Metallo was a key member of that late 1960’s early ’70s ensemble of outstanding young thespians who helped DeRose put together a memorable string of hits on the famous Wilbur Lynch auditorium stage.

I remember Donna had this wonderful singing voice and a very funny and outgoing personality that made her a pleasure to be around and a joy to share the stage with. When she graduated from Lynch in 1970, she had decided to pursue music as a career and she went on to earn degrees in Music, Theater and Education at Long Island University.

Fast-forward to today and you will find Amsterdam’s Donna Metallo has become Albany’s Donna Purnomo, the co-owner of  Yono’s, one of the Capital Region’s most popular and critically acclaimed dining spots. Her husband is the flamboyant Indonesian Chef Widjiono Yono Purnomo. His resume is distinguished by an education at the illustrious Culinary Institute at Hyde Park, work experiences in some amazing dining venues, and a cookbook filled with a signature blend of contemporary American cuisine uniquely and dynamically flavored with Yono’s native Indonesian influences.

You could say it was “love” that pushed Donna into her current career. Yono was a superb chef with a charismatic personality but no practical business experience. So when this couple married and decided to go into the restaurant business, it was Donna who switched careers and dove into the operations and management end of the business. She certainly learned her lessons well.

Though I’ve tried to dine at Yono’s on at least three occasions, I’ve not yet done so but my son has had the pleasure and I know several folks who do so often. They’ve all told me how impressed they are with not just the unique and delicious food but also the atmosphere. It’s Donna who created and manages every aspect of that atmosphere and her superb talents in this area have not gone unnoticed. She has twice received the Restaurateur of the Year Award. She’s the first recipient of the Toque Award from two Chapters of the American Culinary Institute and a recipient of the Governor’s Award. She also has served as a multi-term President of the New York State Restaurant Association. Did I mention she also serves as Yono’s talented Pastry Chef?

The Purnomo’s have two children. Their son Dominick manages the family’s second eatery in downtown Albany called An American Brasserie as well being the Chef-Sommalier and Maitre d’ of Yono’s. Their daughter Alexandra is a Manhattan schoolteacher.

Yono’s is located on 25 Chapel Street in Albany. The phone number is 518-436-7747.

 

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