Bayu Retno Timur, Executive Chef at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Bayu Retno Timur, Executive Chef at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Cherry Tomato Tart

Bayu Retno Timur started his career in one of Bali’s popular restaurants before continuing his journey with five-star hotels on the island. In 2015, he was appointed chef de cuisine at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and his career has only shone brighter and brighter since then. Now the executive chef of the curated resort shares his humble beginning and the highlights of his journey.

Bayu Retno Timur

E: How did you first get into the culinary industry?

A: My father was a soldier so he travelled a lot, and my mother would go with him from one city to the next. I was home with my older brother, who was already working as a chef in Bali at the time. When he was home, he was the one who cooked for me, and I liked to help. One day, he asked me what I wanted to do after high school. To be honest, I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to come with my brother to Bali and enrolled in one of the culinary schools. It wasn’t an easy journey, but I managed to get an internship in one of the restaurants in Seminyak, where I got to learn to cook international cuisine. The rest is history.

E: You’ve been with Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve for quite a long time. How do you think the culinary scene has changed from when you first started to now?

A: The culinary scene definitely has evolved significantly over the years. For one, people have become aware of the environmental impact of their food choices, and chefs have had to adapt their menus and cooking styles in reflection of this. The fast-paced development of technology and social media also had a significant impact on the industry. Last but not least, there is a change in customers’ preferences, as they have become more health-conscious and are more interested in trying new, unique flavours. 

E: How would you define the culinary offerings at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve?

A: We have five outlets here at Mandapa. The three main ones are Kubu, our signature bamboo restaurant featuring Mediterranean cuisine; Sawah Terrace, serving Indonesian delicacies; and the newest one is Ambar, showcasing Japanese fusion gastronomy. The culinary offerings here in the resort are always innovative and exciting as we aim to provide a memorable dining experience for our guests.

E: As the executive chef, what do you think is the key to success in leadership?

A: The key to success lies in the ability to inspire and motivate others toward a common goal. Some traits, like communication, leading by example, adapting to change, and always innovating, are very important.

E: Where do you draw inspiration for your culinary creations?

A: From my own team, from collaborations with other culinary experts, and I also find inspiration on my way home on my scooter – sometimes I get the ideas just like that, take some notes and try to implement the idea the next day.

E: What is the most memorable or rewarding moment in your career?

A: I will always remember my first day of training, when all I had to do was pick Thai basil leaves. I remember wondering if this would be what I would be doing every day for my whole life. One of the most memorable moments was when I represented Indonesia in the Asian final round of Bocuse D’Or in China in 2018. I ranked sixth from 12 countries, and I was really proud that I could cook with great chefs from whom I learned a lot. Going back to the first moment, I’ll always be grateful remembering how far I have come. 

E: What is the biggest challenge you’ve come across in your career, and how did you overcome it?

A: My biggest challenge in my career might be myself. When I was first appointed chef de cuisine, I questioned whether I could do this or not. But I learned a lot from my experience; I learned to manage my team and I learned about the process to create a menu. At the same time, I only want our customers to have the best experience, from the reservation phase to the moment they leave the restaurant, so I can be quite hard on myself. It has been a long journey, but I learned to handle and manage myself to make my work better and easier.

E: What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career in the culinary industry?

A: You have to be passionate about the art, and you have to love what you’re doing. You also need a strong base to innovate and find your own methods. There are many things to learn in the culinary world, and you cannot stop learning. You have to be patient, as well as consistent. You can’t have the fire today and lose it tomorrow.

Exquisite Taste Volume 39

Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Jalan Kedewatan, Ubud, Gianyar

Bali 80571, Indonesia

T: (+62) 3614792777