Mexican Ricardo Luján studied art and majored in sculpture but decided to take up a culinary career that has ultimately seen him work around the world, also travelling as a guest chef representing Mexico and its cuisine and participating in famous cooking competitions.
E: As a child you spent time with your grandfather on his farm developing a strong understanding of nature and its cycles. In Six Senses Uluwatu, Bali you have an on-site organic garden and a company that strongly upholds the principles of sustainability. Does this feel like a full circle to you?
R: I was a city kid, but when I visited my grandfather in the highlands I discovered the connection between the farmers and the fields, the soil, the produce and natural growing cycles. It’s more than that though; the way people in Mexican villages live so communally and base their celebrations around the livestock in their backyard is very similar to here in Indonesia. Although geographically Latin America and Southeast Asia are far away, it’s the same latitude and similar weather and a lot of overlap in the produce, so there are a lot of similarities for me.
E: What challenges do you face here in Bali related to the Six Senses sustainability principles?
R: I have a big responsibility to train my team and make sure the sustainability message is clear and that everyone here can execute our principles properly; the brand is very serious about sustainability. Meanwhile, on the guest side, this is an opportunity to introduce foods that are local and seasonal and perhaps different, for example, steak with a sauce like salsa verde or chimichurri, rather than red wine sauce. As a chef you have a responsibility to understand the cycles of nature and the raw ingredients you use. In terms of sustainability, it is our challenge to share that point of view and provide opportunities for people to widen their horizons.
E: When you worked in Los Cabos and in Myanmar, you explored and used a lot of local ingredients and techniques. What are your favourite local ingredients and techniques here in Bali?
R: Living on the island, the ocean and the soil are important. There are beautiful avocados here and wonderful pearl meat. I work with a group of fishermen in Lombok who line fish and catch some amazing things like whitebait, sardines, mahi-mahi, king fish, that I can order as they bring it out of the sea that day. There is also a farm in Java raising wagyu cattle from Japan. I even have a mushroom hut here at the resort.
E: Do you still include some of your childhood influences in your dishes?
R: You never forget the flavours and foods from your childhood, especially in an environment where feeding the family is a communal endeavour where everyone talks and connects and links emotionally with each other. I think it’s the feeling, rather than the actual food itself that I incorporate.
E: I heard you enjoy exploring local restaurants. What exciting discoveries have you made?
R: Bali is a great place for food. There is so much going on here. I just discovered Room 4 Dessert; I have some favourite steak houses; and there is a small warung where I watched them cook this amazing nasi goreng and I really understood the dish for the first time!
E: What can diners at Six Senses Uluwatu, Bali expect from you?
R: We strive to achieve a personalised dining experience as much as we can. It’s about listening to what people want and sharing something exciting with them. At Rocka Edge we have a chef’s table concept where we create a menu based directly on what the guests would like; they often say just feed me and give us a blank canvas limited only by our imaginations. We also have chefs in villa and regularly refresh our menus.
- 1 cup pearl meat
- 1/2 avocado, cubed
- 3 shallots, sliced
- 3 limes
- 1 bunch fresh corianderChilli to taste (habanero or padi)
- 1 tbsp ashes from onion and garlic skins
- Sea salt
- Black pepper, freshly crushed
- 1/2 cup small dried anchovies
- 3 garlic cloves
- Pinch dried chilli
- 3 tsp sesame oil
- 1 lime
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- Assorted crackers
- Krupuk, vegetable crackers, potato, sweet potato, tortilla chips
- Cut the pearl meat into four pieces. Mix with shallots and season with salt, pepper and lime juice. Leave to marinate for 2 minutes.
- Stir through avocado, chilli and coriander leaves.
- Place onion and garlic skins into the oven and heat until blackened. Crush and strain.
- Over a low flame, toast the dried anchovies until crisp, then add chilli powder, garlic and sesame oil. Cook for 3 minutes. add soy sauce and lime juice.
- Plate the ceviche in a low bowl topped with fresh coriander leaves and finish with a dusting of ashes for a sweet, smoky taste.
- Serve with a selection of your favourite crackers and chips.
- Beers: Lager, Pale Ale, Pilsner
- Wines: Prosecco, Brut Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc with good minerality
- Cocktails: Bloody Mary, Michelada