From what he names a calling-home from the Maldives, Chef Heri returns to his home nation to showcase his talents at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach.
E: How did you first get into culinary arts, and were there any notable moments throughout your upbringing into the industry?
A: My upbringing into the culinary arts was quite normal, starting with my training as a daily worker. I prioritised hard work in the kitchen, working 12-hour days to familiarise myself with kitchen operations. The moments that stick out to me are when the guests voice their love for my dishes, as it boosts my spirit and motivates me to get better and make even better meals going forward.
E: How did the opportunity to move to Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach come around?
A: I was offered a position here from my previous role as an executive chef abroad. My idol chef, Nic Philip called me while I was working in the Maldives, and offered me a position here back in Bali with Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach. It felt like a calling to me to return home, and the opportunity to work alongside my mentor here in Bali was one I could not turn down.
E: From your experience, what is the biggest difference between working in Bali and in the Maldives?
A: There are a few differences. For example, in the Maldives, all the appliances, supplies and ingredients would be imported from abroad, mainly Thailand. The shipment of goods would only come once a week, so it was much more of a task to manage our inventory and optimise our efficiency. Another difference is the importance of variety in the Maldives. I worked on a very small island, so I would often cook the same guests’ breakfast, lunch and dinner. Because they had nowhere to go during their stay, I felt relied on a lot more to cater to tourists’ full experience of food on their vacations.
E: What are the first things you consider when creating your own menus?
A: I always try to ensure balance and variety between my menus. I find that food testing and development are crucial to finding the perfect menu item, so it takes time. Feedback is very important to me, and I’m often looking for second opinions on my creations.
E: What about western food and barbecue captivates your interest?
A: Western food and barbecue allow me to make something very flavourful very efficiently. With the local ingredients we use here at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach, a rich technique goes a long way in making something special for our guests.
E: What is the biggest challenge you’ve come across in your career, and how did you go about handling it?
A: When I first joined this hotel, I needed to hurdle the learning curve of using Nic Philip’s techniques. Prior to my arrival, I was not a strong Japanese chef, and Nic was big into Peruvian-Japanese fusion. I needed to read a lot of books, watch a lot of YouTube videos and travel a lot to learn from experts to find my way with authentic Japanese cuisine. Eventually, I became proficient with this style of cooking, but it was definitely a challenge when I started here at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach. I like to say that it was just an obstacle I had to overcome to boost my career.
E: What is the key to your leadership role as the executive chef here at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach?
A: Consistency. It’s important to consistently ensure the quality and safety of the foods guests are being served while providing outstanding hospitality simultaneously. To me, consistency is the number one most important quality I could have within my role. When you’re consistent, you’ll get results.
E: Are there any culinary projects in the making at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach?
A: Yes. We are relaunching a new Southeast Asian inspired menu here at Makase, consisting of refined street foods from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and of course, Indonesia. We already use premium and local ingredients, but will be optimising the comfort and flavour found within the dishes for our guests. This new concept is coming soon at Makase.
E: What advice would you give to aspiring chefs who are yet to hit the big kitchens?
A: Always be disciplined, work hard, respect each other and be hungry to learn throughout your whole career.
Exquisite Taste Volume 41
Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach
Jalan Camplung Tanduk, Seminyak
Bali 80361, Indonesia
T: (+62) 3612099999