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An Interview with the Chef de Cuisine at Alila Seminyak, Bali

Imagine cooking and eating for a living – especially at one of the most amazing resorts in Bali. Allow us to introduce Vivian Vitalis, the extremely talented Chef de Cuisine who has been working with the Alila hotels for more than three years. We recently caught up with Vivian to chat about why he loves his role at the hotel’s Seasalt restaurant so much, and why a visit to Alila Seminyak should be on every Bali holiday itinerary…

Tell us a bit about your job and what it entails?

A big bulk of my job is creating recipes and making sure they follow the Seasalt standard for using locally sourced and fresh ingredients. I also have to look after the kitchen operation, ensuring each dish showcases the beauty of the sea and is prepared on time. I find this both fun and challenging because we have to be creative and smart at the same time.

What do you love most about your role?

I love this question! What I love most about my role is that I've been given the trust and ownership to create and develop a new menu and concept. We appreciate creativity here in Alila, and at Seasalt, I can meet my lovely guests and create a special dish for them which doesn’t feature on the menu. I also encourage my team to create innovative dishes, so most of it is teamwork victory too. Did I also say I love my team?

What do you love most about working at Alila?

I love everything about Alila. This Sanskrit-origin word means ‘surprise’ and its philosophy of ‘Surprisingly Different’ really defines Alila as a special and unique brand. Everyone who works here appreciates the culture and the people. I'm proud to tell people that I'm working for Alila.

How do the hotel’s surroundings influence the dishes you create?

We overlook the sea; therefore seafood is the main source for our menus. We use locally sourced sea salt that is from Kusamba village, next to our sister property, Alila Manggis. We’ve also just begun to use the produce grown in our organic garden, especially for our ‘Catch of the Day’ menu, which is very exciting. 

Do you have a favourite dish to prepare and serve?

This is such a hard question; may I pass?! Most of the menu is created personally by me and my team, and we have stories for every dish, so it is too hard to choose just one favourite! Each dish brings back special memories for us.

What challenges do you face in your role?

As a modern seafood restaurant, sometimes people have a different perspective on the menu we offer. Our menu is incorporating fresh seafood with a dash of Japanese ingredients, and using sea salt in creative ways. It sometimes can be a challenge for me to come up with a thoroughly unique menu, fresh but not too complicated, so that people can still enjoy the dishes anytime. For instance, we have baked butterfish on the menu. I pair butterfish with carrot puree mixed with miso honey, so it tastes like sweet pumpkin. I was a bit worried that people wouldn’t like it, but it turns out it is one of the most popular dishes on the menu.

If you could only eat one thing from your menu for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I would have to say white snapper baked in aromatic salt. It has a very subtle taste and I can pair it with so much, from rice and soup, to fries, mashed potato or simply salad. You can have wasabi to add a little flavour, or add our five signature sea salts – the options are endless!

Want to sample some of the delicious cuisine at the Alila Seminyak? Check out our range of Bali holidays, and chat to a Travel Expert about tailor making your trip to include a stay at this magnificent hotel.

Written by Tessa Watkins

Formerly a local news editor and reporter covering court cases and crime stories, I’m obsessed with all things travel. Often found exploring a new city and seeking out the world’s best beaches, there are a plethora of destinations I remain desperate to discover. Tweet me @tess1977