Humble and gracious in the face of astonishing success Chef Chris Salans is everything i expected him to be and then nothing that I expected him to be. There are no airs and graces about him. Chris is approachable and a genuinely nice guy. He arrived at the restaurant looking chilled and relaxed in sweatpants and trainers and I was immediately put at ease. It is hard to believe that the guy who just cycled to work for the first time is the same chef who has cooked for the Indonesian president, Jimmy Carter and various celebrities.
No stranger to the culinary world, Chef Owner of the famous Mozaic restaurant in Bali, Chris Salans has worked in Michelin starred restaurants from France to the United States. It was while he was at Bouley’s Restaurant in New York that he first discovered his love for Asian cuisine and when he was offered the opportunity as Head chef at The Legion suites in Bali he accepted without hesitation. He returned to the United States for a while but missed the allure of the island and once again packed his bags for mystical Bali.
His wife, Irni, is Indonesian so Chris also had the opportunity to enjoy Indonesian cuisine right at the source, at home. His experience of the traditional cooking styles combined with his modern techniques paved the way for a unique take on Balinese cuisine. This was the beginning of Mozaic. The style is a perfect balance and blend of Indonesian flavour and Western technique and presentation. It is no wonder that Mozaic has since topped the awards and accolades listings since its inception including features in The New York Times and a place among the best in the world with a listing in the 100 Best Restaurants in the World in the 2009 San Pellegrino Guide, then the 50 best in Asia and a third year in the Top 10 of the Best restaurants in Asia, in the 2010 Miele Guide.
Chef Chris Salans is now invited to culinary events worldwide as a Master Chef to represent Indonisia. He has also gone on to publish a cookbook, Mozaic: French Cuisine, Balinese Flavours in 2011 and opened Spice By Chris Salans, a relaxed gastropub in Ubud and just recently another in Sanur with a third said to open in Seminyak soon.
We just had to ask the Celebrity Chef a few questions on life, love and everything inbetween (food)
- Who cooks at home you or your wife – My wife of course
- Favourite meal at home – What my wife cooks is mindblowing. Fresh, Indonesian and served immediately. There must be tempe on the table, everyday. (Tempe – fermented soya bean cake with a nutty taste, sliced, marinated and deep fried and served with an Indonesian chilli paste called sambal)
- How often do you cook at home – Very rarely, I think I’m too complicated.
- Weirdest ingredient you’ve ever cooked with – Tenggulung berry, the delights of which were discovered my mistake. Our pastry chef dropped in into a port wine reduction which brought out the flavours of a 1000 different spices all mixed together. A Black nut called Kluwek nut which smells like moss, reminiscent of smoke and underwoods. Thought it would work with chocolate, it didn’t. We’ve since found a way to work with it and cooked with a simple syrup it creates a simple, smoky puree which tastes similar to prunes. Used with a foie gras or beetroot.
- Describe your cooking style in ONE word – Cuisine du Marche (Cooking from the market) From Bali ofcoarse!
- Words to cook by – All things in balance
- Words To Live By – Be spontaneous
- Any guilty pleasures – I’m a junk food junkie. Anything from twinkies, cupcakes, pop tarts, as well as chocolate and cheese.
- If there were any person in the world, living or dead , you would have loved to cook for – who would it be and what would you cook for them – No one really, I’ve cooked for my biggest critics and fans already, My parents and a few three Michelin star chefs. BUT perhaps Elvis? Since he is my favourite artist. Actually, I belong to a society for two or more Michelin starred chefs called, Les Grandes Tables du Monde, and I would honored to cook for them.
- Biggest Critic – My 16 year old son, he is very harsh. But he’s becoming like me and that makes me happy.
- Something that the public does not know about you – I would love to come to South Africa. I have family in South Africa. I would love to share the mystery of Indonesian ingredients and cooking in South Africa.
- If you were to leave Bali, where else do you think you could live – Australia prehaps?
With more and more people choosing Bali for their holidays, Indonesia’s ever growing middle class and Mozaic’s solid reputation for excellence we’re sure we will be seeing and hearing so much more about Chef Chris Salans for many years to come.