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Balinese Food: An Interview With Chef Heinz Von Holzen

Balinese food can be amazing, but sometimes it’s hard to find. One place you will definitely find some of Bali’s best food is at Bumbu Bali. We talked to the Chef behind Bumbu Bali, Heinz Von Holzen, to get his take on Balinese food.

Balinese food is obviously a way of life that’s close to your heart, what is it that got you hooked?

Balinese Food

The fact that it was so difficult to find when I arrived in Bali 24 years ago. A funny reason was the fact that I found a publisher that was keen to publish a cookbook including the photos which I shot. The moment I started to touch Balinese food at the Grand Hyatt as Executive Chef so many doors started to open every where. Then the respect I received especially from many Balinese was a most encouraging reason to dig deeper and deeper into the Balinese food culture. Obviously the great success we enjoy day after day with our restaurants and cooking classes as well as the response we receive challenge us day after day to continue our quest.

If you were a spice or ingredient what would you be?

Easy. Fresh turmeric. Beautiful flavor, color and incredibly healthy

If you only had one last day in Bali how would you spend it?

Together with my wife Puji and our son in Singaraja at my mother in laws place together with my wife’s sister and her family, enjoying a simple day enjoying each other and lots of good food.

If you were to collaborate with Heston Blumenthal to create a dish that represented all aspects of Balinese life what would you develop?

Much rather would I love to spend two weeks in Heston’s kitchen observing the day to day operation and see what technics could be adapted to Balinese cuisine.

What would be a simple recipe our readers would love over and over, one of your favorites?

Simple!!! What is simple and what is complicated. Palem Udang, coconut prawns, sate Lilit, Sate Udang which I personally eat several times a week. Or what can be better then simply a really fresh grilled fish.

So many people associate Balinese food with Indonesian food. What is the greatest separation between the two?

The usage of spices. The corporate Chef of the Oberoi Hotel group in India made once an interesting statement when he took part in one of our cooking classes.

When you travel across India the flavor of the curry blends changes every 50 km.

The same applies with the Bumbus when you travel across Indonesia. For example, I just returned from Sumba and was surprised to learn that people in Sumba rarely use chilies in their Bumbus. However a chili based condiment is served with almost every dish.  Padang in the west of Sumatra has very strong Indian influence, where Palembang on the other side sees a lot of Chinese like dishes. Out in the Molukus you see a strong influence from the Portuguese. And the list goes on and on. Early explorers including missionary’s definitely influenced regional cooking across Indonesia.

What is the secret to Balinese cuisine?

Passion and a love for fresh and good ingredients.

You have shared some emotional and sad stories of sulpher porters and other Balinese and Indonesian people, how can anyone visiting Bali or Indonesia play there part to improve there living conditions?

Sulphur Porters

You can find out more information about the sulphur porters and how you can help here.

A big thank you to Heinz Von Holzen.

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