: When did you first discover you had a passion for cooking?
Ashley: I left school at an early age, and got a job washing dishes at several restaurants when I was 15. It wasn’t long before I found myself with a keen interest and started cooking full time.
: Who have been your biggest influences? A: Definitely each and every chef that I have worked for. They have moulded me into the chef I am today.
Melbourne native Ash had a humble beginning before he discovered his knack and love for cooking.
His repertoire includes an impressive stint at Berardo’s in Queensland where he cooked under the supervision of Michelin-starred Chef Bruno Lubert. Now Ash helms the much beloved Starfish Bloo
restaurant in Seminyak.
: What was your experience like working in a Michelin-starred restaurant? A: It’s definitely hard graft. Respect to all the chefs out there.
: What countries has your career taken you to and do you have a favourite? A: Australia, England, Indonesia and Thailand. I have spent a lot of time travelling and exploring different cuisines throughout Europe and Asia. I would have to say Thailand stands out the most.
: How would you describe your cooking style in general and also in particular in Starfish Bloo?
A: My cooking style has changed a lot over the years. I grew up cooking in European restaurants but my travels and time in Bali have brought me to a new direction. But no matter what I’m cooking, the same philosophy applies – taste your food, pay attention to details and have fun with it!
: Starfish Bloo has had many loyal followers for years, how do you maintain its identity while bringing in fresh ideas and new innovations?
A: It’s important to know who your guests are and make a bond with them, it’s not just them but also my loyal co-workers have all been here for many years. I’d say cooking is the easy part of my job.
: What would you say your signature dish is? Can you tell us the inspiration for the dish?
A: To put one out there, I’d say our beautiful steamed asari clams with ginger, black pepper sauce and Chinese fried doughnuts. These clams are delivered to us live and go straight into our clam tank. The inspiration came from a restaurant in Chinatown, back when I was in Melbourne. This was the best restaurant in the city to find clams, they were famous for this. After finishing a long shift, a few chefs and I would head down there and sit there drinking Tsingtao beers, and eating clams and doughnuts late into the morning. Inspirational!
: What are some of your most memorable experiences as a chef? A: Easy to say all the funny characters and crazy chefs I have had the pleasure of working with. These personalities make a hard industry all worthwhile.
: Do you have a favourite regional cuisine? If so, what do you like about it? A: I have love for all different cuisines; from Indonesian to Italian, from Thai to Japanese or even a good old Aussie barbeque at home. From street food to upmarket restaurants, it’s all about whatever I feel like on the day.
: What do you think about Bali’s culinary scene? What are your favourite restaurants in Bali?
A: I have seen the place grow a lot over the last four years. Some big-name chefs have also made their way to the island. You can find it all here, for a small island I think we are spoilt for choice. For a regular visit I would find it hard to drive past Sangsaka or Merah Putih restaurant.
: You’ve been through quite the journey as a chef, is there any future goal that you want to achieve?
A: It’s definitely been a journey! For now it’s all about Starfish Bloo and W Bali. Who knows what else is around the corner.
Tempura lobster rujak
Slipper lobster rujak
Balinese spiced tempeh salad