Shandra was born in Manado, the capital city of the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi. She grew up in Banyumangi, a city in East Java, where her family owned several food related businesses including a food production company, peanut factory, bakery, and restaurant. She learned how to cook by spending time with her family in the kitchen. In first grade, Shandra’s grandmother set up a child-sized kitchen with a working flame and taught her how to make eggs. Soon Shandra was cooking and serving the dishes she made to her grandmother’s employees, and that was the beginning of Shandra’s lifelong passion for food and cooking.
Shandra moved to Malang in East Java for high school and then attended college in Jakarta where she became a financial banking analyst. In 1998, demonstrations and violent riots erupted in Jakarta, triggered by severe economic issues in the country. Women and ethnic Chinese communities were the primary targets of the violence. Shandra became a fierce anti-violence activist--work she still pursues to this day.
Since arriving in New York City in 2001, Shandra has resided primarily in Queens. She currently lives in Astoria with her family. Shandra has worked in restaurants and has run her own catering company. She also enjoys teaching cooking classes through a nonprofit she founded which aims to empower survivors of human trafficking with support services and vocational training. One thing she loves about living in NYC is tasting traditional foods from around the world. Shandra also collects cookbooks and is often innovating with new flavor combinations in the kitchen, just as she did growing up in Indonesia. Shandra is excited to introduce people to Indonesian culture and cuisine through her League of Kitchens classes! Shandra and her cooking have been featured by Spruce Eats.