Talented Chef: Nicola Russo – Directory of Culinary at Capella Ubud, Bali

Talented Chef: Nicola Russo – Directory of Culinary at Capella Ubud, Bali

Nicola Russo

Capella Ubud, Bali beckons explorers of flavour to unearth the unexpected amidst the jungle’s embrace and local heritage. Embracing seasonal and sustainably farmed ingredients, the resort’s Mads Lange and Api Jiwa restaurants present a culinary voyage that fuses tradition with innovation while honouring the lush surroundings. The stellar Director of Culinary Nicola Russo is leading at the helm, taking Capella Ubud, Bali’s culinary journey to inspiring directions with unique dining destinations and experiences. 

Named in homage to Mads Johansen Lange, Bali’s iconic Danish spice trader and peacemaker, Mads Lange the restaurant echoes his legacy of exploration. Its commitment to sustainability is woven into every culinary creation, showcasing reverence for the environment and nourishment. Here, a symphony of hand-harvested vegetables, spices, herbs, poultry and the freshest regional seafood tells a tale of respect for nature’s bounty.

The Camp Nasi Goreng & Sate Lilit

Drawing inspiration from an Indonesian term for fire to the soul, Api Jiwa ignites palates with an exhilarating Asian omakase experience. Set in an intimate and vibrant atmosphere, the chefs curate contemporary bites influenced by farm-to-table ethos, promising a personalised journey through flavour.

At the poolside Mortar and Pestle Bar, guests can indulge in light, refreshing snacks harmonised with an array of cocktails. The menu pays homage to mother nature’s ingredients, meticulously crafted using traditional methods, offering exquisite flavours by the water.

The Campfire offers an oasis under starlit skies, relishing in silent movies capturing Bali’s 1800s era. As tales unfold on screen, enjoy camp favourites like hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows, creating an ambience steeped in nostalgia.

E: How would you define the culinary offerings of Capella Ubud, Bali?
A: The spirit of discovery inspires our culinary offerings; it’s an adventure to taste. Our menus offer a modern twist to the traditional flavours influenced by the jungle setting and local heritage. 

E: Under Capella Ubud, Bali, you have Mads Lange, Api Jiwa and other culinary experiences, how do you differentiate them?
The common underlying theme is sustainable farming and seasonal, local ingredients. Mads Lange highlights the à la carte offerings, curating international and Indonesian favourites from breakfast to dinner all day. Api Jiwa is inspired by the Japanese omakase, where we recreated an Asian barbecue, with a 10-course degustation menu – a more sophisticated culinary experience available for dinner and exclusive to 16 guests daily.

For another F&B outlet, The Campfire serves camp-inspired snacks around the bonfire with classic documentaries on screen. Our Mortar and Pestle Bar offers a wide selection of jungle-inspired cocktails and premium wines, spirits and beers.

E: We have witnessed your journey before Capella Ubud, Bali. Now that you’re the director of culinary, are you still as hands-on with the cooking part as you were at first?
A: As the director of culinary, my primary responsibility is managing the team; most of my time is invested in empowering my chefs and developing their skills and careers. I’m always passionate about cooking, and in a boutique resort like Capella Ubud, Bali, we are focused on personalising our guest experience. That being said, there is room for me to be hands-on in curating the menu for our guests.

E: You have been in the industry for a long time, and quite a while with Capella Ubud, Bali. How do you keep the ideas and creativity coming?
I have been working in the hospitality industry for almost 15 years. It has been a long journey, including the last three years with Capella Ubud, Bali. Throughout this journey, I have found inspiration in everything I see and experience around me. Creativity can come at the most unexpected times, such as when visiting a new place or admiring art in Ubud. The Island of the Gods is the perfect place for me to find my inspiration.

E: In your opinion, what does it take to be a great chef?
It takes many things or aspirations to be a great chef, including the physical and mental ability to deal with the dynamic of work and last-minute changes, eyes for details, providing outstanding leadership and inspiring your team.  


  • The Camp Nasi Goreng at Mads Lange
  • Lombok Oyster at Api Jiwa
  • Marshmallows, Hot Chocolate and Popcorn at The Campfire

Exquisite Taste Volume 42

Capella Ubud, Bali

Jalan Raya Dalem, Keliki, Ubud

Bali 80561, Indonesia

T: (+62) 3612091888

E: info.ubud@capellahotels.com

W: capellahotels.com/capella-ubud

IG: @capellaubud