This native Canadian is one of the most influential chefs in Indonesia today, and he is running one of the best restaurants! He graduated with a Degree in Culinary Arts back home in Canada. Kevin has worked at some amazing places like the three-star restaurants Arzak and El Bulli in Spain, the two-star restaurant La Broche in Madrid, three-star restaurant Daniel in New York City, Shangri-La in both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Kevin opened up restaurant Cuca in Jimbaran, Bali in 2013 and since then he has attracted guests from all over the world. When I first met Kevin I was covering Gastronomika in San Sebastián, Spain. Kevin was the most charismatic chef up there at stage, people could really feel and taste what he was talking about. I understand why people all over the world wants him to come and speak about his passion, food! So when visiting Bali I had a trip to his restaurant Cuca at my program and asked Kevin some questions. (And you will find out more about the restaurant in another post!) I had a chat with Kevin before the meal:
What type of restaurant is Cuca?
-We have a lot of functions and events here, actually we have something nearly everyday! We have a lounge area were 50-100 people can come and chill, have a drink and eat. You can also choose to sit outside or inside, in the bar area, in our private dining area or by the kitchen were you can watch the chefs. We are open 7 days a week from 12 to 12. It is a part of my wife’s business philosophy that we always should be avaiable for people who want to visit us.
Tell us about who is working at the restaurant??
-There is 127 people working at Cuca. And when they start they have no english, no hospitality we train everyone from zero. They get to rotate at various stations at the restaurant. Not even the people in the bar has worked in a bar before, and the same with everyone in the kitchen. We train them from zero and the results for us has been fantastic! Lots of people, but a lot of work.
Do you import anything from other countries?
-Everything we serve is from Indonesia, and everything we serve we make from scratch.
Is there a difference in the customers over the seasons?
-We have our peak season June to October, where June and October is relatively soft in comparison. But everything else within those dates is very busy. And then we have December that is busy too.
So do you have Balinese customers to?
-We have zero customers from Bali, but they do come from all over Indonesia, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Europe, Australia, America…
Can you describe your style of food?
-I want to create food people won’t forget, things that when you eat you always remember it. We try very hard to create something memorable. We serve no traditional food in the restaurant. Many westerners think that we serve very Indonesian food, and the Indonesian customers think that we serve very western food.
So when you set a menu do you set it out of what you can get hold off?
-It is a combination, we start with a dish that we love. We go to a country and eats something. Like smoked fish in Scandinavia and then we think about why we love that dish so much. And then we try to invert it in Cuca using local ingredients.
Do you want to open up at more places.
-No there is only one Cuca! I want to do one thing as good as I can, if I had any more businesses then they would require 50% of my time. And I don’t know how I could do something amazing when I only had 50%. For me that would be very difficult, I know other people manage. But I see the little things everyday, and if I am not here who would fix it? The customers would probably not notice, but I would.
Are you planning to stay at Bali?
-Yes, forever! (Lucky him)
Interview by Malin Nordblom
Photo Melker Nordblom