Fueling The Flames

FUELING THE FLAMES

CHEF LUIS SETS BALI’S CULINARY SCENE ON FIRE

 

Working with cocoon beach club and restaurant’s in-house chef to create a brand new menu inspired by a style of cooking you may not have heard of yet, chef luis varela mata introduces a theatrical cuisine invented by his mentor, chef-owner, ferran adria, of the famed el bulli restaurant in girona, spain.
Uber-trendy in the world’s most innovative foodie cities including New York and Barcelona, ‘Molecular Gastronomy’ is a modern style of cooking also known as ‘culinary physics’ and ‘experimental cuisine’. The inimitable Adria describes Molecular Gastronomy as the deconstruction of well known dishes – transforming their ingredients, then modifying the dish’s texture, form or temperature. The cuisine’s goal is not only to create a theatrical experience through innovative presentation, but also to provide unexpected contrasts of flavor and texture, provoking surprise and delight. As Adria likes to say, his ‘ideal customer did not come to El Bulli to eat, but to have an experience’. Fast forward to Bali, where sophisticated visitors and expatriates are always on the hunt for something innovative. Thanks to Luis, Cocoon has recently introduced an exciting new menu featuring creative dishes never seen before on the Island of the Gods. Part scientist, part creative genius, Chef Luis talks to Asia Dreams about his passion for food and fulfilling his dream to live in Asia.

Asia Dreams: How did you find your way to Bali?

Luis: I have been trying to get to Asia for a few years now. My good friend who was the executive chef at Ku De Ta when it opened told me about a possible position in Thailand. I sent him my CV and somehow it got into the hands of Anthony Bevilacqua, GM of Cocoon. They flew me to Bali a week later and loved everything I cooked for them. Two months later, here I am.

Asia Dreams: What do you have in mind for the new menu at Cocoon?

Luis: My goal is to make my cooking a form of art.  I love to mix ethnic cuisines, like Japanese and Peruvian, for example. I’m also passionate about styling; taking care of the design on the plate. I find that in many restaurants here in Bali, even the best ones, all the dishes tend to taste the same. My goal for Cocoon is to make each dish a unique experience.

Asia Dreams: Spain takes its tapas seriously. What’s the backstory?

Luis: We have introduced a modern tapas component to the Cocoon menu. In Spain, enjoying tapas is cultural. It’s the way we socialize; meeting friends for some beer or wine over several small plates of flavorful dishes. It’s something we do in the afternoons after work – even before dinner! Getting together for tapas is always the perfect excuse to have a little fun.

Asia Dreams: You worked closely with Cocoon’s resident Chef Nick Phillip, creating a brand new style of fusion. What was the experience like?

Luis: Fantastic. We both share an insane passion for food, so of course we had a lot of fun in the kitchen. Our goal was to take my style of cooking which is completely new to Nick and meld it with his innate knowledge of local ingredients. For example, I’m a big fan of granitas – not only for drinking, but for using as a complement in my dishes as well. I showed Nick how I like to make granitas and he had the idea to create one using Bali’s local ginger flower – an ingredient I had never heard of before. From there we created a special ginger flower granitas that we drizzle over carpaccio – delicious.

Asia Dreams: Molecular Gastronomy is designed to take guests by surprise. What are some of the fun new dishes at Cocoon?

Luis: First of all, Nick and I have created 8-course tasting menus that change every day. This way guests can experience the full range of our style instead of being married to just one entrée. One of my personal favorites on the new menu is the ‘Trio Tartare’ – with salmon, tuna and crab. Using the science behind Molecular Gastronomy, I have created wasabi bubbles to complement the dish – they literally explode in your mouth with each bite.

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