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Exquisite Taste - - Contents - By Runi In­drani

: 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

Starfish Bloo

Slip­per lob­ster ru­jak

Ba­li­nese spiced tem­peh salad

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