Interview with the Chef
Christopher Troy Smith
The restaurants, lounge and bars at Renaissance Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa are run by none other than Executive Chef Christopher Troy Smith. Warm, witty and extremely talented, Chef Christopher shares his journey from a surfer boy to becoming one of the region’s most sought-after and respected chefs.
- We read your profile which says that where you grew up, every boy wanted to be a surfer. Where did you grow up? How then did you decide that you wanted to become a Chef?
Doesn’t very boy want to be a surfer? I grew up in Queensland the sunshine state and the best part of Aussie land surrounded by amazing beaches, but somehow I ended up working in kitchens while everyone else was at the beach. It was my life’s dream to become a chef, I just fell into it and it slowly became my life.
- We also read that you were not brought up with a food background – tell us what happened or what you experienced then to decide to come a Chef? And when.
Yeah that’s true, I didn’t have a family that were big foodies ,always at a cool restaurant or doing a lot of cooking at home, but I think that’s why I followed this career as it was all new to me and I found it super interesting.
- What is it about food that entices you?
Everyone loves food right? But for me it’s all about the endless ways to prepare and present food. The food scene is forever evolving and every day in the kitchen is a new experience, we all learn from each other every day.
- How long have you been in the culinary industry?
I’ve been cooking now for 3 years since I graduated high school which makes me now 21 years old – OK that might be a little white lie. I started in 1998 so I guess the reality is that I have been in the industry for 21 years. Wow, that makes me feel old.
- Did you have a mentor, someone that you look up to or obtain inspiration from?
I think as chefs coming up through the ranks, we all look up to our Executive Chef or Sous Chefs like they are kings. I have had many great mentor chefs and learnt so much form all of them, but I wouldn’t like to name just one.
- Have you been with Renaissance Bali since its opening? How large is your team here and how do you motivate and inspire them?
Yes I have been here from opening, which is only just over a year so we are still creating and inspiring each other daily. The team and I are always challenging ourselves to stay motivated by changing menus and constantly keeping up with trends. We have changed the menus at all the outlets 3 times in one year, which is not so common for hotels. I like to keep it fun and exciting for the team to stop the Groundhog Day effect. I currently have a team here of just over 50.
- What’s your leadership philosophy?
I believe in leading from the kitchen, I love getting on the pass in the restaurant when it’s busy or helping to prep for large banquets with the team, also always having a laugh and joke while doing it.
- What’s your specialty? Do you have a preferred menu or do you love to make just anything?
Aussie chefs are a bit different as we don’t really have a national cuisine, as much as that hurts to say, but I find it to be a good thing as we take a lot of elements from many different cultures in our cooking.
- What’s your favourite dish to make here at Renaissance Uluwatu?
I love our “Babi Bali Asli”, the signature dish for Clay Craft Restaurant, simple cool food. Balinese spiced pork ribs ( done our way) with a grilled cob of corn, kangkung and spicy potatoes, but its served with a set of headphones playing some crazy spare ribs tune so you are not disturbed while devouring the ribs.
- What’s the most popular dish/menu here amongst guests at Renaissance Uluwatu?
Each outlet has its most popular dishes. At Clay Craft it’s the “Babi Bali Asli”, at Double Ikat it is the Bebek Betutu and the Chocolate Bon Bons and at Roosterfish, the Roosterfish Platter and the Smores.
- Any plans to launch/introduce a new menu/dishes/restaurant soon?
We have just changed the Clay craft menu, and the new menus for Roosterfish and Double Ikat are coming in June, so come check it out!
- How many restaurants are there at Renaissance Uluwatu and are you in charge of all of them?
We have Clay Craft all-day dining and pottery school, Double Ikat for our signature Indonesian food, Roosterfish Beach Club and also R Bar and Lower Pool Bar, which is also serving food. I have a Head Chef for all outlets but I oversee the culinary operations.
- Every chef has a secret technique or a secret/favourite ingredient that they turn to again and again. What’s yours?
The simplest things in life are often the best and I always find myself coming back to peas and cauliflower. Simple ingredients but you can do so much with them and they are both awesomely tasty. They both work with meat, game, seafood or just on their own as a soup.
- What do you think of Indonesian and Balinese foods? Do you have a favourite Indonesian and Balinese dish and why?
I love Indonesian food; Ayam Betutu is amazing, so much flavour, but honestly what I always crave is Mie Goreng with a Fried Egg on top.
- Of all the countries you’ve ever worked in, which is your favourite? And which would you say, is the most challenging?
Of course Indonesia is my favourite, that why I’ve been here now 7 years. I love the people, the food, the culture and the lifestyle. Hong Kong was probably the most challenging but that is only because that was my first country out of Australia so I think the culture shock and everything being so new and different made it challenging at times.
- How long have you been here in Bali? Do you plan to make Bali your permanent home or will you explore new opportunities and countries as they come?
As I said above it has been 7 years and I still love every minute of living here in Bali, however you never know what the future holds.
- Tell us what you specifically love about Bali.
Bali is just a great place to live – so much to see and do, so much culture, amazing food and amazing people.
Renaissance Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa
Jl. Pantai Balangan I No 1, Ungasan, Bali 80361 Indonesia
T 62.361.2003 588
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