HERMIEN WITJAKSONO, BALI DELI’S GOURMET GURU
WITH TWO RECENT STORE OPENINGS ALONG THE MAIN THOROUGHFARE OF SANUR AND WITHIN BEACHWALK, KUTA’S NEWEST SHOPPING AND DINING DESTINATION, BALI DELI IS HITTING ITS STRIDE AS THE ISLAND’S FAVOURITE GOURMAND ADDICTION. ASIA DREAMS CHATS WITH PRESIDENT DIRECTOR, IBU HERMIEN WITJAKSONO, BEFORE SHE JETS OFF TO GERMANY FOR THE WORLD’S MOST COMPREHENSIVE GOURMET FOOD EXPO.
Q:When did Bali Deli open its doors and how was the idea first inspired?
Hermien: I was first inspired in the mid-1980s by a gourmet food market in Jakarta called Kem Chicks. There are so many foreigners in Bali, visiting, living and working here, so I searched for the perfect location in Seminyak and opened Bali Deli in 2010.
Q:Was it always the original intention to have a gourmet market and European-style café all rolled into one or did one of the two organically evolve?
Hermien: Our resto ‘Le Spot’ followed the idea of the gourmet market, featuring a similar style to what you would find at a chic European cafe, yet with a menu inspired by cuisines from all over the world. It is a popular place for people from all walks of life, from local business people who meet here to have lunch and tourists looking for a refreshing drink or coffee.
Q: Seminyak is such a natural fit for Bali Deli’s concept. How are the new locations doing in Sanur and Beachwalk?
Hermien: Sanur is more tranquil than Seminyak with a very special customer base. The area has a strong expat community from Australia and Europe who tend to be older and quite affluent. Although Sanur doesn’t see the 700 – 900 client transactions daily that we see in Seminyak, the average person buys more per purchase. Our bakery in Sanur offers air-conditioned seating in a cosy atmosphere and has become quite the place for breakfast and lunch meetings any day of the week. Beachwalk features our new restaurant concept, which is ‘Grill Bar’. It’s a nice alternative to the food court and other restaurants on offer at the mall. You can choose your cut of steak or meat from the market and then have our staff cook it to your preference right there. It’s a great spot to stock up on snacks and essentials if you’re staying in the Kuta area.
Q: Bali Deli attracts visitors and residents from all over the world. Do you work on trying to appeal to all cultures and taste or is gourmet cuisine just universal?
Hermien: We provide the best of international cuisines including nasi campur from Bali, tom yum goong from Thailand, pasta from Italy, and couscous from the Middle East. We are a safe place for foreigners to try Indonesian food or to find the dishes that they may be missing from back home.
Q: Bali Deli supports the celebration of many foreign and local holidays, offering pre-prepared, multi-course meals for take-away, set meals that can be enjoyed at the restaurant and special in-store events and performances. Please tell us about this.
Hermien: We offer all of the above including decorations and sweets for several international and Indonesian holidays including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Chinese New Year, Idul Fitri, Nyepi and Galungan. Last Chinese New Year we hosted a Barongsai dance at the Seminyak location and for Indonesian Independence Day we had a troupe of Balinese dancers who taught our clients how to dance. During Christmas, it’s always fun to have a children’s choir in front of the store performing traditional carols.
Q: How would you describe the type of client who shops at Bali Deli?
Hermien: We see individuals, housewives, chefs, owners of restaurants & villas, tourist groups who pre-book meals in our restaurants, and visitors from Java who are visiting the Bali Deli as a special “must-see stop” on their itinerary; just like Tanah Lot or Uluwatu.
Q: Your market is imported products that are difficult to find elsewhere on the island. Are you also trying to source local products more, as local farms get more creative with what they’re growing?
Hermien: We try to buy as many fruits and vegetables from Bali and Indonesia as possible. We source from the farms in Bedugul including locally grown watermelon and mangosteen, leafy vegetables, herbs and spices. We bring in Cavendish bananas from Sumatra as well as papaya and mango from Java.
Q: Life on Bali wouldn’t be the same without Bali Deli. Do you have any more plans currently for further expansion?
Hermien: We are going to expand to Ubud as soon as possible, in front of Starbuck’s. Our space is 870 square metres and will feature a supermarket, bakery and something similar to the Grill Bar at Beachwalk. Our Sanur and Kuta locations are also going to start delivery service soon to villas and hotels. We do outside catering too for private parties up to 100 people and we’re always open to having business groups host annual lunches and dinners in our restaurants.
Q: Are there any on-going or upcoming events at Bali Deli that we should know about?
Hermien: We have many nightly entertainment options happening weekly. In Seminyak, we do free salsa dancing lessons on Saturdays and in Sanur on Thursdays. We have live music every Wednesday and Friday in Seminyak and on Tuesdays in Sanur.