Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith


Having Fun with Fine Dining


Chris is a charming Australian-born chef who has been with the highly regarded Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel in Bali since it opened in 2012. The Stones Hotel Legian is part of a diverse collection of high-personality, independent hotels that have been brought together under one global brand, with the stated aim of “creating fresh, inventive and positively unique experiences for its guests”.

Chris presents dishes of tremendous quality with funky creativity and beautiful presentation. His rapport with his staff is evident and he seems, without much apparent effort, to have settled into the very different requirements of a holiday and conference hotel away from the buzz of the big city.

Q: So why did the big city chef – champion of fine dining – throw his hat into the predominantly holiday hotel island of Bali? 

A: I decided basically it was time for a change. I’ve been with the Marriott Group since 2008, starting as Chef de Cuisine at the Hong Kong JW Marriott’s signature restaurant JW’s California for 18 months, then as Executive Sous Chef at the Singapore Marriott, where I stayed for two and a half years. They are both very modern cities, lots of high-rise buildings, super efficient, but pretty formal and with no fresh produce. We could order anything in, but it wasn’t freshly picked, straight from the fields.

Then Marriott decided to open The Stones here in Bali. It’s the first, and currently only Autograph Collection hotel in Southeast Asia, so I decided to have a change of scenery and moved. I’m a native Queenslander, so the beach scene suits me and I decided it was time to have some fun.


Q: So, a brand-new hotel, a new country, what were your steps to make this your own?

A: Well, clearly, I was responsible for creating and delivering all the dining concepts and related menus, building the banquet packages and also stipulating the restaurant and kitchen layouts. In fact, as far as food and beverages goes in the hotel, the buck stops with me!

But it’s been good. We have a great team established, it took a while and we had to work together to find the best way to provide holiday hotel food that is great quality, fun and provides something a little bit different. Finding the best suppliers took time as well as getting used to the idea that I could pick up the phone and ask for fresh herbs and vegetables and they’d be delivered the following day! I love being able to get fresh, seasonal food again.


Q: I’ve always liked the three restaurant concept you operate at Stones, but how much of that is the real “Christopher Smith”?  

A: The overall selection and dish choices on all the menus are mine, but The Big Fish Bar & Grill section is kind of “me on a plate”. That’s where I get to play with fine dining and create a memorable food experience for our guests. We serve Stockyard beef, which is from my hometown, so it was interesting to be part of setting that up.

There are my personal touches throughout all the menus and we’re now onto our fourth revamp. We played around with lunch and dinner menus, picked all the favourites, added the ones we can get really great local produce for and then had another look at it all.

We’ve streamlined and redesigned the style of all the menus. I wanted them to look more interesting and reflect the fun aspect of our luxury hotel, to put an interesting twist on some of the choices – like serving gado-gado with a couple of sticks of seared yellow fin tuna so it’s more of a complete meal.

We also have a great time making our meeting food more interesting and tend to set a theme, decorate the place up and have the wait staff play an active role in serving the food. You don’t just get a croissant and a muffin on a plate, you could find our staff playing the part of artists, with paint-splattered aprons, pop art on the walls, ready to serve your food. I like that. The opportunity to play and be creative with the setting, not just with the food.


Q: That’s great, so how much influence did you have over the exciting Indonesian menu?

A: I don’t pretend to be able to cook the range of Indonesian food we serve to the standards we require. We have chefs who specialise in it, so we can serve authentic, traditional food. My part is deciding with the chef what sells best, culling everything else off the menu so we can concentrate on great quality, and designing a pictorial menu that shows people exactly what they are ordering, not giving just a written explanation. Then I made sure the presentation looks fresh and funky, so it interests our international guests. It sells really well, so I think we’ve got that nailed now.


Q: Before you joined the Marriott Group, you worked at one of the most highly regarded luxury hotels in the world, the Palazzo Versace on Brisbane’s Gold Coast known globally for its excellence in fine dining. How do your experiences of fine dining, both at Palazzo Versace and throughout your Marriott career transfer to The Stones?

A: The Palazzo Versace was a great experience. I ended up as Chef de Cuisine fronting the hotel’s Vie Bar & Restaurant, it was pretty cool. That was ultimate fine dining at the Palazzo, we had gold jackets, white gloves… Every last thing was in its exact place and polished to the nth degree! Very, very formal stuff. I really enjoyed it, it was an amazing thing to be part of, but, you know, I’ve done that now and this is my time to be more relaxed.

At the same time, I still use some of that experience to make sure that my part of the menu here, the evening fine dining for guests, gives them something elegant. And once every three months we do a wine pairing dinner, so I get to bring out those more formal skills to create a menu that suits a specific set of wines and to present it in such a way that it grabs the concept. I still get to have fun with it but it doesn’t need to be as formal as at the Palazzo. The Ruffino dinner we did recently presented classic, rustic Italian wines that are still innovative, so we did a modern twist of classic dishes, set the table up with fresh salad and herb planters, made the petits four more playful… made it interesting and memorable. That’s really what I love doing now!


Christopher Smithís Caramelised Banana Split with Coconut Ice-Cream and Almond Crumble 

Simple, easy and so scrummy; a classic desert with a signature twist from The Stones Autograph Collection


For the Banana Split:

1 Cavendish Banana (with the skin on)

20g Sugar

2 Scoops Coconut Ice Cream


For the Almond Crumble:

25g Sugar

32g Ground Almonds

32g Flour

20g Butter (soft)

Salt to taste


For the Butterscotch Sauce:

200g Sugar

20ml Water

20g Butter

100g Fresh Cream


To Make

First Make the Crumble:

1. Mix all ingredients by hand in a bowl.

2. Bake in the oven at 180°C for 25 minutes.

3. Allow to cool and crumble by hand.


Then Prepare the Banana: 

1. Half banana lengthways.

2. Caramelise by sprinkling with sugar and burning with an open flame burner



Finally Make the Butterscotch:

1. Boil sugar and water until caramelised, then add butter and fresh cream, stirring to a smooth consistency.

2. Serve immediately with two scoops of coconut ice cream, lashings of the butterscotch sauce and garnish with the almond crumble.


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