The Yak sat down with the recently arrived Chef Richard Bias – Culinary Director at W Hotels – to talk about what’s really hot in the kitchen.
Richard, let’s cut to the basics of name, birthplace and er… shoe size.
Richard, Surrey, U.K. Size 11 UK or 45 Continental.
First time to Bali was when? And with whom?
The first time I came to Bali was for THE interview at W. I checked-in in the evening, flying in from Oman, woke up the next day and started cooking for my food tasting the next day. Completed my food tasting and flew out a few hours later. A real flying visit!
Irreplaceable memory of that first visit?
The hospitality of the team from the hotel manager to the commis in the kitchen and the lengths they went to to make sure I was comfortable in the room and kitchen. They made sure I had a complete overview of the location even though I was only there for 36 hours.
What were you up to in life in general at that time?
I was working in Muscat, Oman @thechedi.
Cities you’ve lived-in and why?
I’ve lived in a few different countries/cities as that is one of the great things about my job … it gives you the possibility to move around.
When, who and what made you decide to expand your horizons to include Bali on your CV?
Bali has always been on my radar, especially when I was living in SE Asia as my wife and I always talked about going on holiday here but we never quite made it. The W is a fabulous property, why wouldn’t I want to add it to my CV?!
I’m sure I heard somewhere that men cannot multi-task. Please breakdown for us what it is you are currently creating and / or involved with?
Bahahaha! We are looking at changing most of the menus in the hotel right now, we are working on a scraps project where we want to highlight the things we often discard and food waste (which isn’t necessarily waste but a byproduct of creating a certain dish). We are working on a brunch re-generation and bringing in more stations and more live elements in both brunch venues. We have lots of things in the pipeline, all happening at the same time!
What are the sourcing challenges you face for ingredients in Bali? And what are your pet peeves?
To be honest we don’t struggle to get anything but some import items are quite limited in variety – cheese for instance. The variety of vegetables, salads and fruits is very good and there are some exciting guys farming some cool stuff too. Pet peeves? When someone says yes, yes, yes …and then does something completely different. Taxi drivers in Bali… say no more!
What do you like about the products that you can get here?
We get some really good beef and lamb as we are so close to Australia, we get some amazing fruits that always seem to be in season, some farmers are growing some very cool herbs, leaves, salads and vegetables which in the Middle East, Europe etc are very expensive. We can design plate ware and get it manufactured in small numbers, unheard of in the real world of minimum order.
Name your favourite herb.
Mint, great in sweet or savory, Mojito or even a Hendricks mule.
Whose dish do you love to recreate and what is it?
My mum’s shepherd’s pie! Not sure it really belongs to her but definitely the best I’ve ever eaten. Guess you’re after a chefy dish though… Chef legend Pierre Koffmann does an amazing pig’s trotter stuffed with sweet breads and morels, I used to cook this in London, phenomenal!
Where will you be eating on your day off?
I have a two-year-old daughter, so mainly we do breakfast and early dinners on my off days. I’m a bit of a regular at Watercress and Kiln and I love the food at Sangsaka.
Thanks for your time Richard, we’ll be checking back with you soon to see what other plans are in the pipeline for you and Fire at W.