Every afternoon, an outfitted motorbike arrives at the kitchen backdoor of W Bali – Seminyak. It has one mission: to pick up the remains of the day’s tasty food from the resort’s breakfast buffet. After carefully stacking a few large containers inside the cooler box, the driver immediately heads back to the Scholars of Sustenance (SOS) headquarters in Kuta. There, Yuni Derlean, the foundation’s food hygienist checks, weighs and separates the food. As more drivers arrive, the counters are quickly filled with loaded containers of surplus food, including muffins and fried noodles. They are donated by hotels, food suppliers, catering companies, beach clubs, and a bakery who have pledged to assist SOS in their food rescue efforts.
First founded by Bo Holmgreen in Bangkok because he noticed that a lot of good food goes to waste in the hospitality industry, SOS (www.scholarsofsustenance.org) now operates in Thailand and Indonesia. “How is it possible that one third of food produced in the world gets thrown away while there are more than 800 million people who don’t get enough food to eat? It just doesn’t seem fair,” says Holmgreen.
With a team of 17 people, SOS distributes food to 16 orphanages and foundations as well as remote villages in Karangasem. On average, SOS rescues 300 kg of food and provides nutritive meals to 250 children every day.
Otherwise, these foods probably just end up in a landfill, decomposing and producing methane, one of the greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change. According to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the impact of methane gas is 34 times worse than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. Beryl Adler, director of culinary at W Bali – Seminyak, is supportive of this effort. “Internally, we have already minimised leftovers from the buffet or events by preparing some of the food à la minute. However, it is unavoidable that we would still have extra food and it is wonderful to know that it goes to those who need it,” says Adler.
Since joining W Bali - Seminyak early this year, Adler has expanded the chef’s garden and incorporated locally sourced produce on the menus. The 326 sq m garden is bursting with fresh vegetables, edible flowers, herbs and seasonal fruits. “I use the chef’s garden as a tool to educate our talents about the effort and the time it takes to grow produce. That way, everybody can learn to respect what we have and don’t waste it easily. For example, we grew tomatoes for our new menu three months ago and just one month into it, all the tomatoes suddenly died. Now, when we get these beautiful heirloom tomatoes from our supplier, everybody treats it with more respect because they know it takes a lot of effort to grow them,” explains Adler, enforcing the fact that education is an integral part of reducing food waste.
BEHIND THE BAR
It’s not just chefs who have heeded the call on sustainability, the island’s top mixologists are also following their comrades from the kitchen to create zero-waste cocktails and embrace locally made spirits.
Ayip Dzuhri is one of them. The head mixologist of Alila Seminyak, Bali has been reusing, fermenting, recycling, and upcycling ingredients that would otherwise be marked as waste. At Seasalt, the resort’s stylish beachfront dining venue, one can sit, enjoy the view and sip on the refreshing Stretched Pineapple. True to its name, the cocktail uses every part of the pineapple. The meat is used for the juice, its husk for the garnish, while the peel is used to make fermented tepache, a liquid base for the cocktail. “There are plenty of trials and errors involved in creating a zero-waste cocktail. It does require going the extra mile, but it’s definitely worth the effort when you know that you create a solution instead of problem,” says Dzuhri.
Meanwhile, 30km away in Ubud, Spice by Chris Salans offers a modern take on two of Bali’s local spirits: Arak and Brem. Traditionally used as libations on Balinese ceremonies, Arak is a clear spirit distilled from rice containing 40 percent alcohol. Brem is a fermented glutinous rice wine with five percent alcohol. Although widely consumed by the locals, Arak and Brem were often considered novelty drinks, something that needs to be tasted when one is having a holiday in Bali. Arak Attack, a classic concoction of Arak and orange juice, was an inseparable part of visiting Bali in the 1980s. Fortunately, creative mixologists from Bali have come a long way since then. At Spice by Chris Salans, one can order a refreshingly sour Arak Tiki, a cocktail made of Arak, Brem, kaffir, calamansi, cardamom syrup, clarified citrus, and Angostura Bitters. The bar also offers fruit infused Arak, proving that with creativity, local spirits can create tantalising cocktails.
GOING FULL CIRCLE
Despite hosting six million visitors annually and housing 4.5 million local residents, Bali still badly lacks the necessary infrastructure to manage its waste. Most of it ends up in landfills and it is left to each individual business to separate and manage its own garbage. Waterbom Bali, a high-thrill water park, has successfully recycled 80 percent of its waste through on-site composting, pig farm feeding and working with a third party recycling company. Only 19 percent of its waste goes to landfill. It is no small feat considering it serves up to 2,000 meals a day during the peak season.
Following its mission to reduce their environmental footprint, the leafy water park has invested in Certified Emissions Reduction Project approved by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). From minimising water usage to creating a better waste management, it monitors every environmental impact closely.
The same attention also goes to its three F&B outlets, food court, café, juice bar, and pool bar which are managed by an experienced caterer, M&M Food Couture. In an effort to satisfy all palates, one can find a flavourful serving of Pad See Ew at Thaitalian, savour Avocado Cheese Melt Sandwich at Bali Banana, enjoy a spicy thigh of Jamaican Jerk Chicken at The Shack, or simply getting a bit of everything from the food court’s Indonesian, Japanese and Mexican offerings. “Most of our ingredients are locally sourced, organic, non-gmo, and no MSG. We minimise our food waste by turning our cuts and peels into broth. We plan our menus carefully, working closely with our suppliers to discourage single-use plastic packaging, and turn whatever we have left to compost,” explains Michael Szarata, owner and chief executive officer of M&M Food Couture.
SUSTAINABILITY ON ALL FRONTS
There is a wise Balinese philosophy that has been put into practice at both Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan and Four Seasons Resorts Bali at Jimbaran Bay. Over the years, the two resorts have implemented a strong policy on sustainable sourcing and waste management based on the philosophy called Tri Hita Karana. It translates as the ‘three causes of well-being and happiness’ and guides many aspects of Balinese life when it comes to keeping the balance with God, people and nature. Only by having a harmonious relation with all three causes will mankind achieve happiness and well-being.
Working with local artisans, farmers and food producers is a priority of the two hotels’ purchasing department. An appointed environmental and sustainability manager is hired to engage with all stakeholders, audit the third parties and vendors, and make sure sustainability is thoroughly implemented in both resorts.
At the Jimbaran Bay property, for instance, the resort sources its coffee from a Fair Trade farmer’s cooperative named su-re.co in North Bali and fully support su-re.co’s efforts in adopting climate smart agricultural practices and assisting local farmers. The inroom coffee capsules are biodegradable and packed by a women’s cooperative in the rural area of Bali and West Java by Java Mountain Coffee. Single-use plastic usage is reduced in the kitchens and dining areas to an extent that the resort is now bottling their own drinking water.
A visit to Jala Cooking Academy at Jimbaran takes one to experience the richness of Indonesian culinary heritage through dishes that use 100 percent locally sourced ingredients. Helmed by head chef Anak Agung Kristya Yudha, participants of the cooking course tour the neighbouring fish market, pick some lemongrass and chillies in the resort’s three hectares of permaculture garden and learn how to make Sundanese Crispy Fried Fish with Pickled Vegetables and Hot Sour Sauce, one of the recipes taught in the professional kitchen. The used cooking oil is sent to Lengis Hijau (www.lengishijau.or.id), a non-profit organisation that manufactures biofuel as a substitute of fossil fuels. “Sourcing locally and implementing sustainable practices should always come first. It should no longer be a marketing gimmick. Being sustainable at all fronts should be the new normal,” states executive chef Philip Taylor.
Find out more about Scholars of Sustenance (SOS) and how to support their food rescue foundation at www.scholarsofsustenance.or.
Yayasan Lengis Hijau provides a sustainable cooking oil recycling solution. Find out more about their programme at www.lengishijau.or.id
Food rescue is underway for Scholars of Sustenance in the kitchen of W Bali - Seminyak
W Bali - Seminyak’s director of culinary, Beryl Adler in the chef’s garden
Ayip Dzuhri’s constant experimentation
Spice by Chris Salans’ Arak and Brem
The Stretched Pineapple at Seasalt, Alila Seminyak, Bali
Esarn Grill at Thaitalian restaurant is made of grilled fresh catch of the day and sticky rice.
The food served at Waterbom Bali is locally and organically sourced to ensure its freshness and quality.
More than 50 percent of Waterbom Bali is made of green space with extensive tree coverage from indigenous species.
Jala Cooking Academy
The permaculture garden supplies the resort’s cooking classes.
Made from local strawberry and lime, the Strawberry Makrut Lime is served at the Jimbaran Bay property.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay’s executive chef Philip Taylor