Amaury Belkhanfar, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort

Amaury Belkhanfar, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort

Situated along the white sand beach of Nusa Dua is Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort. The luxurious destination seamlessly blends French magnificence with warm Balinese hospitality, resulting in an unrivalled venue to remember. A majestic sight in the manicured Nusa Dua tourism complex, the sophisticated retreat goes big with 413 lavish rooms, suites and villas, equipped with high-end comfort, five-star amenities, top-notch facilities and bespoke service.

Every Sofitel resort is always renowned for its award-winning, high-quality F&B options. Sofitel Bali’s eclectic set of dining options comprises three restaurants, two bars and a club lounge. Helming the culinary team is Executive Chef Amaury Belkhanfar, a relatively young chef who learned to cook with his mother when he was younger.

In the heart of the expansive Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort is Kwee Zeen, the flagship all-day dining restaurant. Serving a wide selection of Pan-Asian cuisine, the hawker-style restaurant serves up a feast. Vibrant colours adorn the area, with ateliers offering buffet-style menus ranging from Chinese, Singaporean, and Japanese to Indonesian cuisine. In addition to the buffet, the restaurant also has an à la carte menu with dishes inspired by traditional delicacies, such as bebek suna cekuh and ayam guling, while the One-Meter Platter is a selection of traditional Indonesian treats.

Meanwhile, the newly revamped Cucina transports guests to the sunny, breezy Italian Riviera. Offering an exceptional Mediterranean wining and dining experience, the restaurant serves the finest and heartiest of Italian fare. Cucina’s Magnifique brunch every Sunday is also highly popular for obvious reasons: the bountiful divine delicacies and the inimitable ambience. Keep an eye on the chef’s special dishes that are not listed on the à la carte menu, such as pâté en croute, marbled foie gras terrine and glazed short ribs New York-style.

For a quintessential tropical dining experience, head to Toya Beach Bar & Grill, where you can enjoy grilled and barbeque dishes. L’Oh Pool Bar serves tasty bites and creative cocktails by the pool, while you can also have a low-key good time at Le Bar in the lobby.

E: Would you share with our readers a little about your culinary journey so far? 

A: My culinary journey has always been a passion. I have been cooking since I was very young and loved helping my mother in the kitchen. Looking at her transforming ingredients through a simple method of cooking into a delicious dish to be served at the table was really fascinating and inspiring. From those precious moments, my passion for cooking was born. I started studying culinary arts when I was 15 years old, before pursuing my culinary career in France, London, New York, Geneva and Asia.

E: You are lucky enough to have been able to cook for high-profile figures, such as President Barack Obama and President Emmanuel Macron. Was it nerve-wracking for you, and how long did it take for you to plan a special menu for them?

A: To deliver the best meal for our distinguished guests, such as heads of state, takes time and many procedures must be followed. We have to design the menu based on all their requirements, preferences and special dietary needs, while ensuring we have approval from their protocol teams. Once approved, we have to conduct a food tasting and plating mock-up for further approval. Changes will have to be made, adjusting to their needs and requirements until we have the final approval. 

E: As a chef, you have held positions in both mid-sized boutique hotels and large five-star hotels with a significant number of restaurants, events and catering; which do you prefer and why?

A: I believe all types of dining facilities have their own challenges and serve different purposes, though ultimately for the same role. A mid-sized boutique hotel allows for experimentation with recipes and creating new dishes. Meanwhile, a large five-star hotel requires more focus on organising, leading and managing resources. I believe it is good to experience everything to be a well-groomed leader

EWhat are the most important factors or philosophies in your career and in the kitchen?

A: To be physically and mentally strong. Being in the kitchen is all about challenges and high pressure. Being passionate, ambitious, and adaptable, while remaining humane and having fun are the keys to success in this industry.

EAs someone who has been cooking since a young age, do you still include some of your childhood influences in your dishes?

A: My cooking personality is shaped from my childhood, which has influenced my character, my cooking style, and the spices I use. My entire journey, and especially my childhood, continues to inspire me until today. 

EWhat’s the biggest challenge you’ve come across so far during your time at Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort?

A: I knew that joining the famous, successful Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort with its big family would impose exciting challenges. I believe in perseverance, taking full ownership of the responsibilities and delivering the expected results. This to me is essential.

EWe keep hearing people raving about the Sunday brunch at Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort. How much hard work does it take to plan a large spread of food like this?

A: The pressure to bring back the Sunday brunch at the Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort has been very high. It was one of the most famous and busiest brunches on the island. I wanted to put my vision into the food, while at the same time showcasing the talent of all our senior chefs. We worked on it for a few weeks, including tasting and trial and error until we found the perfect formula. 

E: You’ve been through quite a journey as a chef, what future goals do you have that you still want to achieve?

A: I want to continue enjoying myself as a chef, discovering ingredients, and exploring recipes from various countries and cultures. I have achieved that already, but the journey shall continue.  

Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort