Saturday, 25 October 2014

Interview with Chef Chris Salans, Mozaic, Bali, Indonesia

 Mozaic, Bali
Chef Chris Salans

Interview with Chef Chris Salans, Mozaic, Bali


What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am a chef owner of two restaurants in Bali, Mozaic Ubud and Mozaic Beach Club. I got in the Industry when I was 21 years old and wanted to do something with my hands. I walked into a kitchen and haven’t left since then!

Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
God! There are so many…  Here is one.
I used to work from 6am until 11pm six days a week. By the time I got home and spent a little time with my girlfriend I would get about 4 ½ hours of sleep a night. Every minute was spent having nightmares about work. I weighed 80kg and was as white as an Aspirin. I now work 10 hours a day, get 9 hours of sleep a night, weight 100kg and I am not pale white anymore! A lot of people (including my children) tell me that I work too much but from my point of view I am working almost 40% less than before!

What's the best/ worst part of your job?
There is this joke amongst chefs in France – it translates into, “We are paid well. We have great working hours and we get all of the glory.” The reality is that starting chefs get paid badly. We work long hours. We burn and cut ourselves day in and day out, and our superiors shout at us all day long. In a weird way this is both the best and the worst part of our jobs! You may need to be a chef to understand this one.

What's your personal favourite meal?
My favorite meal is a home cooked meal at home made by my wife.  It must contain Tempe (Fermented Soy Bean Cake) which is an absolute favorite of mine.

Tell us a story about one of the dishes you prepare...
I still laugh about the story behind the recipe of Pan Seared Foie gras with a Sweet and Sour Belimbing Wuluh Broth...
An American friend of mine who lives in Bali came to Mozaic and told me that he had been to a restaurant in New York City where he had eaten foie gras served with Belimbing Wuluh.  Here I was in the capital of belimbing wuluh and not making any use of it when someone thousands of miles away from any belimbing wuluh tree was using them. "What was wrong with me?” I thought to myself. From that moment I didn’t leave the kitchen until belimbing wuluh was on the menu. Sure enough it got there and in many different ways. What we realized is that no matter how sour an item can be it can always be slow cooked and then marinated in a sugar syrup to balance its acidity. So that's exactly what we did and a new ingredient was added to our palette.

What's one of the wildest/ craziest/ scariest/ funniest/ most outrageous things you've seen behind the scenes?
I have seen a lot of things in my career.  Chefs with 3 fingers on one hand (Scary!).  A chef owner who sprayed champagne on the staff while we were cooking for a fully packed restaurant (Wildest).  Another chef who would give us the recipes for his new dishes 5 minutes AFTER the restaurant opened, and guests had already ordered the dish (Craziest). And one who had such a strong English accent that when he told the waiter to serve Duck to the guest the waiter went to the guest and said “Here is your DOG” (Funniest – in a way!).

The perfect day off would be...
Hanging out with my wife and children in a beautiful Balinese home facing the Indian Ocean – something that I do every weekend by the way!

What do you do for fun?
I like to challenge myself. I go canyoning or diving or take up any new kind of physical challenge that I can to prove to myself that I can do more than just what I do on a daily basis.

What's something you'd like guests to know about Mozaic?
That's a difficult one for me. I would say that they should know how much work goes into making a good meal. Certain sauces and preparations can take up to two to three days of work. A single dish can involve more than 10 chefs working for four or more hours each. It always make me grind my teeth when I see guests criticizing a dish without truly understanding the work and effort that goes behind preparing good food.

How do you select your ingredients and why?
I try to use as many ingredients from Indonesia as possible but they must always be of top quality – believe me when I say that this is a MAJOR challenge here in Bali! There are many reasons for which I select my ingredients this way. First of all I feel that my guests, mostly visitors of Bali, come to Bali to discover Bali and what it has to offer. Secondly a chef should as much as possible use products from his terroir and not import things – this is healthier, the food will taste better and it is sustainable.

What's your view on the Bali restaurant/ bar scene?
There is a lot happening in Bali. A lot of good restaurants are opening and it is really proving that Bali is a culinary destination. Unfortunately there is also a swarm of bad restaurants which have the opposite effect.

What can guests look forward to in the upcoming months?
I have a lot of things in the pipeline.  I will be doing a dinner at the Good Food Festival in Sydney with Luke Mangan in October. Ryan Clift of Tippling Club is coming to Mozaic Beachclub in Seminyak to do a dinner. Akrame Benallal from Akrame restaurant in Paris has also promised to come to Bali to do something with me. I am also in the midst of planning my next move but as long as things are not confirmed I can't really speak about them!




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