After honing his skills at Mozaic Bali over a decade ago, Kiwi-born Blake Thornley is making a sweet comeback to the Island of The Gods and is now in charge at Ubud’s most iconic restaurant. Still instilling the same DNA as its predecessor but with a twist, Chef Blake introduces a new concept of Mozaic Gastronomic Bali to loyal foodies on the island. We keep up with the cheerful chef to learn more about what to expect from Mozaic 2.0.
E: When did you discover you had a passion for cooking?
A: Well, for my 11th birthday, I wanted to buy a surfboard, and my mother told me to get a job. So, I started washing dishes at a local winery restaurant very close to my home, and that’s when I started to fall in love with working in the kitchen.
E: Being back in Bali and Mozaic Gastronomic Bali is a sweet reunion between you and Chef Chris Salans, but what made you decide to come back to this island?
A: At the start of last year, when Chris contacted me, I was still living in Shanghai. He was thinking of closing the restaurant and looking for someone to take it over, and after being here for five years before, why not give it a new life and revive Mozaic? As it is one of the island’s most iconic restaurants. Afterwards, we got in touch and talked some more, and now you are looking at Mozaic 2.0.
E: What can you share with our readers about this new concept?
A: The whole idea behind the new concept is that we’re still keeping Mozaic at heart, and we’re still focusing on the fine dining and tasting menu that highlights unique Indonesian spices and ingredients, but why not turn it into a multi-concept place? So, we start at the Tasting Rooms in the lounge, then diners can move to the main Dining Room with a surprise, where one of the main courses is going to be experienced in the garden area. What I have in mind is giving the guests a chance to enjoy open-fire cooking. And then, at the back of the property, is going to be the Chef’s Table. Where there’s going to be live cooking, either myself or one of the chefs is going to interact with the guests. This, hopefully, will make people feel more energetic about the space.
E: In your own words, how would you describe your style of cooking?
A: Basically, I love to use unique products or spices and also make it quite fun and unexpected for the guests. Having that element of surprise, either through textures or flavours, is a great way to keep the diners guessing or interested.
E: Mozaic Gastronomic Bali has a stellar culinary reputation, and it shows on the impressive menu. Do you have a personal favourite dish on the menu?
A: Honestly, my personal favourite always changes because I am always evolving the menu. So, I cannot really say. One day I might like this dish because the product is really tasty, and then I got this other idea. So, I am always going to keep changing and evolving. Everything is my favourite, basically.
E: You’re very passionate about your work. What do you most enjoy about being a chef?
A: I love food and beverages, and everybody gets to eat. Otherwise, if you don’t eat, you will die. It’s that simple. And also, the creativity behind it and the satisfaction you get when you make people happy when they eat the food you make.
E: Where do you usually get your inspiration for your culinary creations?
A: For new ideas, I usually get inspired by nature, unique spices, and thinking outside the box. For example, why not use fruit as a whole, like citrus, from which we can make something with the skin? You just have to play around with it. It also helps with the zero-waste concept, something that I am a firm believer in. As a chef, you are allowed to make a lot of mistakes to figure out exactly how it’s going to work perfectly.
E: As someone who has been working in restaurants since decades ago, what tips could you share with anyone looking to break into the culinary industry?
A: Anyone looking to break into this industry, I would say don’t go to culinary school. Take that money you’re going to spend on culinary school and find the best restaurant where you live, and ask them to work there so you can learn from the chefs.
E: What do you do away from work?
A: When I’m off work, what I like to do is some outdoor activities. A bit of kite surfing, jet skiing, and just chilling out with a little barbecue action.
Exquisite Taste Volume 40
Mozaic Gastronomic Bali
Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Ubud
Bali 80571, Indonesia
T: (+62) 361975768