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Photo: Courtesy of Chef Nicholas Kennedy

The Ubud Food Festival will return for the third time this week, running from May 12-14, and it’s where culinary icons from all over the world will serve a melange of dishes that explore the rich tastes of the Indonesian archipelago and create new innovations for food lovers on the Island of the Gods.  

This year, we caught up with Chef Nicholas Kennedy of Amandari who will be participating in the festival and he talks about his menus, ethical eating and shares the recipe of his favourite green smoothie!


How do you define your culinary style? 

My culinary fare could be described as modern Australian with a paddock-to-plate philosophy. My product choices are conscious in the way they are sourced, where they are sourced from, and how we are to eat them. I display techniques from the humble ingredient and simplicity through to the prime ingredient. It’s ever-evolving, where nothing is set in stone, questions are always asked, and I pay attention to my surrounding resources.

What made you decide to work at Amandari? 

After a number of holidays in Bali I gained an affinity for the food, the people and the landscape of the island. It’s an exciting place to discover new ideas, flavours and cuisines from Bali and beyond. Working for the Aman brand and Aman Indonesia in particular is also an amazing group to be a part of; it gives the right balance of structural guidance with the ability for creative freedom that contributes to the unique feel of all the properties.

How do you strategise in terms of menus and food preparations for Amandari? 

I try to draw on the experiences of my staff in a way that will also balance well with my ideas. We both have a lot to teach each other and we have a symbiotic relationship in that way. We never have drastic menu changes—I only change parts of the menu more frequently. It’s more organic that way for us—it has a natural flow, like it's living or breathing. Returning guests will notice a difference yet have a familiarity with their food experience.

How do you define conscious and ethical eating? 

It is a practice that involves thinking about your dish in more than just sustainable meat or organic vegetables. Sometimes things like that are not enough. Does this dish have enough healthy fat? Good carbohydrates? Is the farming method good for the environment? Are the animals looked after? Do we fry in palm oil? Does this ingredient support a community? All these things and more are considered before deciding on a menu, and to me are as important as flavour. These things add integrity to what you do and can be applied to anything you buy – not just food.

How do you interpret contemporary Indonesian cuisine in your menus? 

On our resort menus, in regards to Indonesian food, we try to keep as authentic as possible. We want to deliver an experience to the guests that is representative of the rich culinary culture these islands have created. The contemporary food is kept for special events, such as wine dinners or during festivities and, of course, for this year’s Ubud Food Festival.

Where do you find inspirations for your menus? 

In anything I eat and anything I see. Our new dessert menu has a naughty street food indulgence that has been given the restaurant treatment, so inspiration may be found literally on the street. I also try to read food articles online. I buy cookbooks, new and old. I consult with my chefs, from trainees through to seniors and experiment. I eat at local warungs and in fine establishments. I try to vary what I am exposed to so as not to become stale. Anywhere you are in your journey is an opportunity to be open to new inspiration.

Speaking of that, what’s in store for the Ubud Food Festival 2017? 

The theme for the event is “Every flavour has a story”. My concept is to bring the executive chefs from our Balinese resorts together with food, ingredients and recipes that have meaning or evoke experience. I can tell you I have a Balinese dish I was introduced to by way of eating in our staff canteen. It is a dish often eaten in times of festivity and I have given it a modern interpretation to be suited to an Aman dining situation.

Meanwhile, another dish will utilise the food surrounding Amandari; in particular, village chicken and rice paddy ducks, using Balinese flavours, and I will apply some French techniques to be creative. As for the other chefs, diners will have to wait for the dinner to see.

Tell us your favourite guilty-pleasure dish. 

I regularly make trips outside of Ubud to a gym for part of my fitness regime and on the way home I always drive past a shop making lak lak: glutinous rice flour pancakes, flavoured with Suji leaf, and topped with fresh grated coconut and palm sugar syrup. They are cooked on the side of the road in clay moulds over fire and are a simple sensation when eaten freshly cooked—this is my guilty pleasure.

Last but not least, share one quick healthy recipe with our readers they can make at home. 

Well, if you have a high-powered blender, I recommend starting the day with a green smoothie. These are on our conscious drinking menu and are a top seller.

Ingredients:

  • A handful of spinach
  • Half an avocado and half a banana
  • 300ml of young coconut water & coconut meat
  • 5-7 fresh dates

Preparation:

From there, you can add anything you want: experiment with your flavours or superfoods. Try raw cacao, maca powder, lucuma, bee pollen, hemp seeds, coconut oil, chia seeds, mint, cucumber, apple, figs, goji berries or any berries, Himalayan salt, Baltic sea salt, nuts, activated charcoal, matcha green tea, protein powder, spirulina... The possibilities are endless and you can target different health purposes for your own body. Plus, it’s delicious!

Tags: Dining, Chef, Nicholas Kennedy, Amandari, Interview, Profile, Recipe, Healthy, Ubud Food Festival 2017