Michelin-starred chef Stéphane Gortina wanted to be a chef for as long as he can remember. His determination and passion led to work in various Michelin-starred restaurants, before joining Chef Alain Ducasse in Le Louis XV at l’Hôtel de Paris in Monaco, which was followed by stints at his other restaurants around the world. He now helms the culinary team at The Legian Seminyak, Bali.
E: Much of your career has been in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world, most recently at Rech by Alain Ducasse in Hong Kong. What made you decide to move to Bali?
S: I had been working for Alain Ducasse for the last 14 years in different restaurants and cities and I decided that it was time for me to go out on my own. I’m very happy to be here at The Legian Seminyak, Bali.
E: How are you adjusting to working in Bali after so many years working in cities?
S: In Hong Kong we could import anything and everything, which is not possible here, but Bali is really rich in local products so there is no need to import much. We are working with local organic farmers who supply us with amazing vegetables. The seafood is also excellent and there is so much diversity. I prefer to create menus using the freshest local products; it is better for me as a chef, as well as for our guests.
In cities like Hong Kong, life is very fast-paced and new restaurants open all the time, which is very exciting, but I’ve been surprised by how many good restaurants with different concepts there are in Bali. I like competition, it helps us keep our levels high.
E: The Legian Seminyak, Bali has a stellar culinary reputation. How do you intend to develop this with your own style?
S: I will continue to work with the best product available to give our guests the best quality. My style is perfect cooking with perfect seasoning; simple and tasty. I believe this is the secret to good food. I don’t like to confuse the palate with too many ingredients. For example, I serve steamed barramundi with clams that are just open and have a wonderful ocean taste, alongside fennel. All of these are local ingredients. But I play with the textures of the fennel, using it as a condiment, cooked, raw, the flowers, seeds, leaves. This is my style, simple, fresh and tasty, with modern plating.
E: Your global travels have also inspired your cooking. Can you give me an example of this?
S: I have a starter where I marry pan-seared foie gras with pineapple and coconut. I use thinly sliced pineapple stuffed with a pineapple jam made with chilli and ginger, which is accompanied by fresh, dry and foamed coconut and served with brioche. So you have some very French aspects alongside Asian flavours. It represents my French background and style, my global travels and uses ingredients that are local.
E: Have you had the opportunity to explore Indonesian ingredients yet?
S: I’ve not been here very long, so there is still a lot to discover, but 90 percent of my menu is made with local products. I have recently discovered beef rendang, but I serve it on sirloin steak. Diners order their steak as they like it and I serve it with a full-flavour rendang sauce and labu siam. It combines a traditional recipe with a modern touch.
E: Would you share a memorable experience from your career with us?
S: There are so many, but one is when I won my first Michelin star. I had been working in Michelin-starred restaurants where I maintained the Michelin-star rating, but it was very exciting to win a star myself at Rech by Alain Ducasse in Hong Kong.
It’s also very memorable when you see the professional development achieved by people in your kitchen team; we work so hard together that we end up feeling like a family and it’s nice to feel like you have been able to make a difference.
Lamb Rack Zucchini Flower, Pine Nut-Rosemary Crust
- Australian lamb rack
- Pine nuts
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Baby basil
- Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- Cut lamb rack into individual pieces.
- Crush pine nuts and rosemary together and crust lamb rack, then roast.
- Serve with a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper, lamb jus, zucchini carpaccio and deep-fried zucchini flower.
Finely slice zucchini and season with a small amount of condiment made from finely diced raw zucchini and tomato, a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts, thyme and baby basil.
Deep-fried zucchini flower
- Sweat zucchini flesh in olive oil with garlic, sage and thyme.
- Once cooked, cool rapidly to maintain the colour.
- Chop finely and season with parmesan cheese, egg and chopped basil.
- Stuff a zucchini flower with diced zucchini, close the flower and cook.
Exquisite Taste June – August 2019