UP CLOSE & PERSONAL
Meet the highly talented chefs in the region, from Chris Salans and Nic Philip in Bali to Cheung Siu Kong in Singapore.
Raised with a strong food culture, Chris Salans trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, took internships at Michelin-starred restaurants in France and worked for renowned chefs in America before developing a love of Asian cuisine. Since moving to Bali, he has never stopped exploring the fascinating aromas, flavours and local produce found in Indonesia, opening Mozaic in Ubud to bring his passion for imbuing haute cuisine techniques and presentation with these discoveries. Chris’ drive for perfect execution and his talent for ingenious creations have seen Mozaic gain international recognition, listed in the Miele Guides Top 10 in Asia, Les Grandes Tables du Monde and named Best Restaurant in the 2018 World Gourmet Summit.
: You lead a very busy life. In addition to Mozaic, over the years you've been involved in all kinds of other projects, including TV shows, writing a cook book, culinary management, as well as opening Mozaic Beach Club and Spice. What are you focusing on now?
A: I've been concentrating on achieving balance! I've been working since I was 18 and Mozaic has been open for 17 years, so I decided it was time to take better care of myself and of my family. This meant closing two of my Spice restaurants. I'm keeping the concept alive and had received offers to take it to Prague and Amsterdam, but I needed to slow down. In future, I envisage Spice doing well in New York, Paris, Amsterdam as it's a discovery of Indonesian flavours in fun comfort food that suits Westerners, but that's a future dream.
: Have you always had a lot of dreams? A: Yes! I'd love to create a cooking school to teach Indonesians to cook to the level
of Mozaic, I've always had a passion for teaching but it's a huge project and I can't do it alone. We've started farming, imagine being able to supply produce across Indonesia – there's amazing produce in Indonesia, from the ocean to the mountains. However, although I have the means to put my dreams into action, I don't have the energy to do them all. Maybe my son will be ready to help me someday.
: So you're concentrating on Mozaic now?
A: I have a great team here so I'm trying to empower them to run the show. It's a fine line to balance at this level. Mozaic is the way it is because of the meticulous attention to detail, because of how I am, but at the same time you have to let your team have creative input otherwise they get bored.
: Why have you decided to open for lunch?
A: We've created a unique experience with our chefs cooking live in the show kitchen. It provides the opportunity for diners to have an elegant meal, discover new ingredients and watch the chefs putting their meal together. We offer five- and seven-course tasting menus, which is a bit shorter than at dinner, and means that lunch takes between 90 minutes and two hours; this makes a visit to Mozaic more accessible to visitors taking day trips around Bali.
: The menus at Mozaic are always changing, why is that?
A: Using local, seasonal produce was part of my training. Since the beginning, I've explored the farms and the markets, and my staff keep on bringing me new things to try. I still love the creative challenge of marrying local spices and produce with Western techniques and I'm still discovering new things even after all these years. I'm really happy to be directly influencing what's happening in the kitchen again.