|Frederic Boulay, Executive Chef of The Chedi Sakala Bali|
In a recent trip to Bali, The Yum List had the exquisite pleasure of dining at Sakala Bali. After a wonderful meal, Executive Chef Frederic Boulay filled us in on some of his thoughts on food and the restaurant scene in Bali.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
My name is Frederic Boulay and I am from Quebec City, Canada. I am the Executive Chef at The Chedi Sakala Bali, GHM hotels. I have opened the free standing French fine dining restaurant in October 2011 named Sakala Bali.
During that time, the hotel was being built.Now I handle all culinary outlets. Our restaurant, Sakala Bali, is doing very well. We are in the top 5 restaurants of all Bali restaurants (approximately 3600), and we have been number one for so many months now on Trip Advisor.
Prior to Bali, Indonesia, I was in the Caribbean working for Raffles Resort Canouan Island and before that at the Grenadines for three years as Executive Chef. The Grenadines were a sublime experience as I got to meet many celebrities from all around the world.
I started my career extremely young (12 years old stewarding) and working in some of my father’s restaurant’s kitchens. My father is a very well known Chef in Canada and owner of a few restaurants. The best known is the French fine dining restaurant called Le Saint-Amour (open in 1978). He pushed me when I was young to do internships in the most prestigious restaurants in Europe such as: Alain Ducasse, Michel Bras and Alain Lurca. I have worked for Le St-Amour in Quebec City for over 15 years and I have run most of the culinary operations over there before moving abroad.
What's the best/ worst part of your job?
The best of being a chef is, without a doubt, the possibility of making our guess extremely happy and to have the chance to give them a memorable experience and also a souvenir which they will may never forget.
The worst part of the job is that even though we try very hard to make all of our guests happy, sometimes, it is not possible.
What's your personal favourite meal at Sakala Bali?
My father and I specialize in foie gras. We have learned the best techniques and we are famous for our foie gras dishes. At Sakala, I offer the foie gras variation dish, which consists of eight different methods of cooking. I also like a very good marbled piece of beef. For drinks, I have to say Champagne for sure is my favourite! Red wine comes second and always accompanied with good still water from the mountains.
What's one of the craziest things you've seen behind the scenes?
It is not funny but a very important lesson to learn... I was a judge in a contest for best chef cuisiniers in my hometown province. The participants had to serve a tasting menu with different dishes and execute all to perfection without assistance. One of the candidates I knew well (and I thought would win) did very well from beginning until almost the end when he was confectioning the last part of his dessert. He used salt instead of sugar!! This remains to me of most important things in a kitchen: you have to taste what you are cooking at all times before it exits the kitchen!
The perfect day off would be...
I love to cook at home and cook good food for my wife. So on a day off, we always plan a big dinner. We usually exercise and relax a bit around the pool with our baby boy.
We also enjoy Bali’s great beach clubs where it is fun to hang out with friends and family.
A day in the life of a chef is...
The day starts early and finishes late. It is always a constant look out for the food quality, preparation and plate presentation. We have daily team meetings and a lot of food tastings. But the most important part is always to take care of the guests and make sure there is a lot of love in what we are cooking.
What's something you'd like guests to know about the cuisine prepared at Chedi Sakala?
I am working consistently on my menus. I like to always taste the dishes and improve the recipes. I am truly passionate about cooking and I always experiment with new ideas. I love to offer a variety of food presentations. Prior to being a very good chef, I have done my pastry chef studies and I believe a good chef should also have knowledge about the dessert part. So for me, desserts are very important and complete a meal. Our desserts at Sakala are just divine and I invite all of guests to try. Our stomach always has a small extra place for desserts!
How do you select your ingredients and why?
I work with the best local ingredients I can find in Indonesia and a few ones from outside that I have no choice to import. Our suppliers at Sakala are extremely knowledgeable of their products and the quality they offer. Since I was very young I worked with local producers in Canada and I have always liked to choose personally my products and even have some grown especially for me.
What's your view on the Bali restaurant scene?
Bali is extremely busy with new restaurants.There are a lot of international chefs coming to Bali and the competition is getting harder. The new trend at the moment is the Spanish tapas style restaurant with a busy and loud ambiance. The visitors in Bali are very lucky to have such choices.
What can guests look forward to in the upcoming months at Sakala Bali?
The upcoming months will be very busy as Bali is getting in its high season. At the same time, the weather will cool down a bit and the climate will be less humid and more breezy. Usually the summer months bring a few international DJ’s to the island and also guest chefs in many restaurants. For us at Sakala, we are looking forward to welcoming more guests looking for the best fine dining experience on the island!
Check out our experience at Sakala Bali here.