Executive Chef Donald Hutauruk has just taken over the kitchens at Courtyard by Marriott Bali Seminyak Resort and already people are sitting up and taking notice – the Executive Chef took to the ground running with an intimate Wine & Food Tasting event in September to launch Seminyak Kitchen’s new menu, impressing guests with his modern and contemporary interpretation of classic Balinese dishes. Great examples are the Tuna Sambal Matah Taco and the Loaded Balinese Chicken Nachos which we incredibly delicious and easy to eat.
The Chef brings with him 2 decades of experience from his appointments around the world. Humble with a ticklish sense of humour, Chef Donald is full of fun and interesting stories about life in the kitchens; from the day he first picked up a pan to help his mother cook, to the day when he was a Sous Chef at in Holland, and later, in London, England and Palm Beach, Florida.
Bali Plus Magazine recently enjoyed a few moments with the Chef. Cheery and jovial, Chef Donald is riddled with talents, a multitude of industry techniques and secret recipes up his sleeves. Here’s what was discussed:
How old are you and where are you originally from?
I’m 39 this year and I am originally from Medan in Sumatra, Indonesia. We lived there only until I was 2 or 3 years old and then the family moved to Bandung and then Jakarta.
When did you know that you wanted to be a Chef?
I didn’t. It all happened quite by accident, really. I graduated high school and had no idea what I wanted to do next. My sister suggested that I enrolled in a cooking school and after that, everything just fell into place.
So you didn’t always want to be a Chef? Did you cook at home?
Yes, I cooked with my mother but originally I wanted to be a doctor! Sounds funny now but you can say it was an unexpected discovery of my passion for food.
What do you love most about being a Chef?
I love creating and experimenting with ingredients. I love to study, read and learn from the internet, from books and from great Chefs and I use whatever I’ve learned, combine that with my imagination and then start creating! I also love to travel. In fact, one of my very first jobs was at the Golden Tulip in Holland. It was the base camp for the national football team so I had the honour of working closely with the Chef of the team. I then moved to Nunsmere Hotel in Chester, England before returning to Jakarta for 5 years as an Executive Chef. When an opportunity to head the kitchen in a Trump property in Palm Beach, Florida, I just couldn’t resist! There I learned all about molecular gastronomy and after a year, I returned to Jakarta before heading to Bali in 2016 to be part of the pre-opening team at Renaissance Bali.
What is your specialty?
Definitely Indonesian food – Sumatran food and now, Balinese food, which I combine with international techniques and presentations. For example, my version of the Tuna Be Sambal Matah is very much like the Tuna Tataki but a localized Balinese version which honours the island, its flavours and traditions.
When I first came to Bali, I visited a traditional Balinese village in Klungkung to spend some time with an elderly Balinese lady to learn classic and time-honoured Balinese cooking techniques and styles from her. I combine these traditional cooking methods and food preparations with modern plating and presentations to tempt visitors from all over the world. I like to make my dishes “Insta-friendly”.
How many people are you currently in charge of and how do you inspire them?
I oversee a team of about 40 people. It can be quite a challenge to keep anyone inspired and motivated but I like to do a morning briefing and I like to convey messages from happy customers to my team. It helps to keep them in good spirits and will encourage them to do better. I believe that showing appreciation is an integral part of people management.
Do you have a favourite Chef that you look up to?
I love Gordon Ramsay – not so much the yelling but more his techniques, the knowledge that he has and his style of cooking. I have read all of his books, I have them all at home and I re-read whenever I can.
You’ve just launched the new menus for Courtyard Seminyak. Anything else in the pipeline?
We’re planning a new menu for Seminyak Meat Shop and a new Pool Lounge Menu which should happen sometime soon. Meanwhile the new menu at Seminyak Kitchen now has plenty of choices for everyone including vegans and vegetarians with gluten-free and dairy-free options and a wider salad menu.
What do you recommend that diners try when they come to dine at Seminyak Kitchen, here at Courtyard Seminyak?
Definitely the Sate Bali, the Loaded Balinese Chicken Nachos, Gado-Gado, Tikka Masala, Cajun Baby Chicken, Nasi Bali. We now have Pizza and some new Sandwiches. So definitely try those with some pasta and for dessert, Chocolate Textures and the Bali Banana & Coconut. For dinner, try something heavier like the Bebek Bali Asli, Udang Bakar Jimbaram and Fishermen Catch Of The Day.
COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT BALI SEMINYAK RESORT
Jl. Camplung Tanduk No. 103 SP, Seminyak, Bali 80361
Ph: +62 361 8499 600