Behind The Scenes at Sundara

Behind The Scenes at Sundara


With a head for business and a passion for food, culinary entrepreneur Greg Bunt brings a wealth of international experience and a thirst for knowledge to Sundara, the architecturally stunning beach club recently opened by the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay. Taking a quick break from his intense 80-hour work week, Greg talks to Exquisite Taste about what really happens behind the kitchen in one of Bali’s most glamorous restaurants and how hearing the waves from Jimbaran Bay inspires his cooking style every day.
Exquisite Taste: You joined the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay as Executive Chef in 2012 after successfully launching and running several restaurants. How did owning your own businesses prepare you for managing the kitchens of a luxury hotel? 

Greg Bunt: It’s totally different. I’ve always been into promoting and marketing, that’s all very important for a chef’s career. And as a restaurant owner in the past, I have an intimate understanding of what it’s like to be responsible for 150 staff members. Rather than being boxed into my own little world which can happen at hotels, I understand the mind of an owner and I’ve personally been through all of the ups and downs, so I’m an accomplished business person and now I’ve come full circle getting back to what I love to do, being on the line cooking and creating. The Four Seasons brought me in for my independent entrepreneurship, someone who can look outside of the box with a more street savvy perspective. I want to offer something different to the brand and our clientele and I feel that our menu at Sundara can stand up to the best in New York, London, Hong Kong or Sydney. That’s where our clients are coming from and we need to surpass their expectations.

Exquisite Taste: In addition to Sundara, you oversee several restaurants at the resort that serve different cuisines, from Indonesian and Thai to Japanese. How do you keep track of it all? 

Greg Bunt: My extensive experience in Asia and life in Hong Kong for 12 years led me to working with Japanese, French and Thai chefs amongst others. In the kitchen, I surround myself with chefs who have the skill sets I need to pull off all of these cuisines. We share information and continue to learn from each other. Good chefs are always learning. Just the other day, one of our Balinese chefs showed me something spectacular with coconut. We worked together to create a unique salad that’s currently on the menu. Everyone in the kitchen has a play in what we do and being in the hospitality industry has blessed me with a strong network of friends and colleagues. My style can be described as French-based with Asian overtones. I always try to stay true to classical cooking techniques, like confit duck, for example, complemented with spice paste. Not blended in with sauce, but just a touch on the side to balance flavour, adding a little element of surprise. Recently, I have been using tamarind, but not listing it as an ingredient on the menu. I let the guest try to guess what they have just tasted. Sundara has a sophisticated, beachy feel, with the sound of the waves all day, all night, so I use a lot of vinegars & oils, chutneys, pates, traditional terrines. Our cuisine is healthy and light, not a lot of fats, always with an element of surprise, and a sustainable vision for the long term.

Exquisite Taste: Have you discovered any new cooking ingredients since moving to Bali? 

Greg Bunt: So many. Sulawesi anchovies, Bali flower hearts – these tropical, sour and acidic flowers that are indigenous to the island. Our farmer in Bedugul where we have our own personal plot introduced it to me. I love having personal access to a farm where we get a little more control over when we want to harvest certain produce. For example, a bean tastes different when harvested at two months versus four months.

Exquisite Taste: In your opinion what is the best dish to start with for a guest who wants to dabble in Indonesian or Balinese cuisine? 

Greg Bunt: We have bakso on the menu as well as all of the other classics including babi guling and curries. Bakso gives you dumplings, fragrant broth, lemon basil, all the flavours unique to this island, yet it isn’t “in your face” spicy. It’s perfect after a long flight and helps the body adjust to new cuisines.

Exquisite Taste: You have worked and travelled the world from your native Australia to Macau and Hong Kong. What is it about the relaxed pace of Bali island life that appeals to you? 

Greg Bunt: Bali just felt like the right place to be and an opportunity to do a project like Sundara is not to be passed up. I lost my businesses to the 2011 Australian floods, so Bali has been really healing. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I can see the surf from my kitchen; the whole region is a surfing mecca. All of my travels have led to the cuisine I’m preparing for Sundara today, all the street food, learning how to shell peanuts from a Nepalese girl, etcetera. Anything is possible in Bali. Our plates are hand made in forty different varieties from Gaya in Ubud. In one variation, the Italian ceramicist added black sand from East Bali to the clay creating truly one-of-a-kind pieces. Our glassware is hand blown by Horizon Glassworks. We were all there at the studio contributing to the process, having a lot of fun. When I see it all come together today, I realize we’ve really created something special. I love the association between food and people, the experiences are endless and always will be.


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