Singaporean Jerome Rezel found his passion for cooking at college and his enthusiasm and drive has seen him rapidly move from peeling vegetables to working in notable restaurants alongside a Michelin-starred chef and a celebrity chef. Now executive chef at Radisson Blu Bali Uluwatu, Exquisite Taste talked to Jerome about his career.
E: How did you get into cooking? Has it been a life-long passion?
Jerome Rezel: No, not at all! During my national service in Singapore I was friends with a chef who encouraged me to study culinary arts at SHATEC, which is what started me on this path.
E: So there was no family background of cooking?
J: My grandma is a really good cook, she’s Eurasian with Dutch and Portuguese blood and her cooking is similar to peranakan style with lots of spices and coconut. I learned a lot from her and treat her recipes like gold; they still inspire me today.
E: Italian cuisine seems to be one of your passions; did you start out with Western cooking?
J: My first job was in a Chinese kitchen and all I did was peel and chop vegetables! None of the chefs spoke to me at all until they eventually realized that I really did want to learn and started sharing their knowledge.
After that, I moved to Garibaldi, an Italian fine-dining restaurant that won a Michelin star this year. Then I went to Etna, another Italian restaurant, where I also learned a lot. I’ve worked on several pre-opening and opening teams and had a lot of fun.
E: So how did you end up in Bali?
J: I really admire Jamie Oliver and when I heard Jamie’s Italian was opening in Singapore I went straight there to apply. I just knocked on the door and asked to see the head chef. It turned out that recruitment had ended, but I kept waiting to see him. It was worth it though as I ended up being the final recruit. When Jamie’s Italian was slated to open in Bali, I was asked to join the opening team and jumped at the chance.
E: You’re at Radisson Blu Bali Uluwatu overseeing Filini and Artichoke, as well as banqueting and events; it’s pretty different from being a restaurant chef in Kuta.
J: Yes, it is! In Uluwatu, guests are looking for more luxury, a quiet escape from everything and we’re cooking for a lot more people. I like it. I have a wonderful team in the kitchen who are very passionate about what they’re doing and always looking to improve. I also have quite a lot of freedom to create menus and bring my own style to the food.
E: What is your cooking style?
J: It’s very mixed. My mum is Chinese and my dad Eurasian, I refer to myself as rujak – a mix of everything, which is reflected in the flavours of food that I present. I love comfort foods that make people happy. Food is meant to be enjoyed, it should taste so good that you want to pick up the plate and lick it clean.
E: Would you share the food concepts at Radisson Blu Bali Uluwatu?
J: Artichoke is our Indonesian and international all-day dining venue, while Filini is our signature Italian restaurant. We’re serving rustic, family food that is all about flavour and get a lot of walk-in guests, as well as hotel guests. I really like our working lunch here, too. We fill the whole centre table with wraps, salads in a jar, sandwiches, chips in a bag, so you can just grab and go. We also have some cool themes for events – like the blue theme where everything is blue.
E: So, what do you like to eat?
J: You’ll laugh – I love nasi jinggo! You just grab a packet when you’re driving home, it’s just so good.
- 10g garlic
- 5ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1kg lamb shank
- 1kg lamb, minced
- 300g orange
- 5g thyme leaf
- 5g rosemary leaf
- 20ml red wine
- 300g carrots
- 300g leek
- 300g onion
- 1l vegetable stock
- 300g tomato paste
- 2l tomato, peeled
- Pan sear the lamb shank and cook the minced lamb.
- Add herbs, carrots, leek and onions, then sauté until nicely sweated.
- Add red wine and reduce sauce.
- Add tomato paste and cook on low heat until slightly darkened.
- Add peeled tomatoes and vegetable stock.
- Transfer to a 1/1 Gastro / pot and make sure the lamb shanks are fully submerged.
- Cover with aluminium foil, slow cook at 140C for 4 hours, checking every hour to ensure there is still stock.
- Once ready, cool and shred the lamb shank.
- Strain herbs and mirepoix. Reduce until sauce thickens.
- 5g garlic
- 100g lamb ragu base
- 10g butter
- 2g chopped parsley
- 5ml extra virgin olive oil
- 30ml vegetable stock
- 10ml red wine
- 10g parmesan cheese
- 2g salt
- 2g pepper
- 5g herby gremolata
- 150g pasta of your choice
- Heat pan, add butter, garlic and red wine and reduce.
- Add lamb ragu and vegetable stock, season well.
- Cook pasta then add to sauce.
- Toss well and plate.
- Drizzle with olive oil, aged parmesan and herby gremolata.
Exquisite Taste March – May 2019