The Mozaic restaurant in Bali recently held a masterclasses for culinary arts professionals and an interactive formal dinner in Ubud, Bali. Attendees include Michelin-Starred Chef Jacques Pourcel, of Montpellier's Le Jardin des Sens, Chef Alain Caron, a French native current based in the Netherlands and Jakarta-based Chef Gilles Marx of Amuz fame. (The Peak Photos/Sari Kusumaningrum)

Ubud's French Connection Showcases Gallic Staples With Asian Flair

JULY 01, 2015

From the deep recesses of Ubud, past the lush green trees and shrubs, under the warmth of the Bali sun, the sound of knives emerges. The tapping of spoons occasionally punctuates the gentle murmur of a simmering pot. Standing above this is a parade of chefs — four to be exact — discussing ingredients, exchanging ideas and sharing laughs over comical moments in the cooking process.

This lively group came together as part of the French Connection, a three-day event that recently took place at the famed Mozaic Restaurant and Lounge. It aims to bring food from one of the world's beloved cuisines to one of its most idyllic locales.

The brainchild of veritable chef Chris Salans, this gastronomic journey showcased French cooking from these outstanding chefs using local ingredients and highlighting their best dishes.

Salans, who grew up in the United States and France before relocating to Bali nearly two decades ago, has adapted much of his dishes and cooking styles to the region over the years. He always dreamed of bringing fine dining to Bali in ways that introduced local diners to a different cuisine and in turn showcased local ingredients to chefs from overseas. Through his restaurant, Mozaic Restaurant and Lounge, which focuses on Modern International Balinese cuisine, his book Mozaic: French Cuisine, Balinese Flavours and participation in food festivals and workshops, Salans has managed to foster intercultural connections of the culinary kind.

In a mix of formal masterclasses for culinary arts professionals and an interactive formal dinner, Salans invited to Bali Michelin-starred chef Jacques Pourcel, of Montpellier's Le Jardin des Sens, chef Alain Caron, a French native currently based in the Netherlands and Jakarta-based chef Gilles Marx of Amuz fame.

The menus curated by the chefs, who worked in conjunction with both Salans and Chef James Ephraim from Mozaic Beach Club, featured French staples with an Asian flair. The resulting meal was a delectable spread that combined simplicity with elegance in a marriage that was well-received by diners familiar with the nuances of both cuisines.

Four Hands, Light Work

On day one of the festival, in a more formal setting, the Mozaic Restaurant provided the perfect space for an intimate meal where the two chefs who presented their meals could interact with their guests informally. Chef Salans started things off with a trio of meat, seafood and vegetables. Wagyu beef, salmon and forest mushroom were rolled individually into pastry cigars and served with artistic aplomb. Accompanied by a 2011 Grenache Blanc & Viognier from the Rhone Valley, the meal was certainly off to a good start.

Chef Jacques Pourcel presented a dish of vegetables and white fish in a fine purée of artichokes and caviar. Guests were invited to plate up the verdant offering which was paired with a 2008 vintage of the Viognier & Grenache Blanc, Chateau de la Tuilerie Eole Blanc AOC.

Chef Salans returned with a seafood course offering up rich, butter-poached lobster with radish, which was accompanied by watermelon, torch ginger and winter black truffles. The combination of seafood and fresh produce provided a balanced dish and a light one at that, combined with a rather exquisite 2009 vintage of the Grenache Blanc, Roussane & Picpoul, Domaine des Senechaux Jean Michel Cazes.

Those with lustier appetites were well-served with Chef Pourcel's Wagyu beef served with caramalised shallots and an apple-celery puree in a coffee syrup. Of note here is the use of Vietnamese coffee sourced from the mountains — and carrying a particularly hefty price tag. The effort taken to source and produce the dish was appreciated by diners who were treated to a pairing with a heavy 2011 Perrin Vacqueyras "Les Christins" from the Rhone.

The meal ended on a deliciously sweet note with Chef Pourcel's creation — a raspberry and mint-tea granite which, served alongside lemon caramalised cream and meringues and a 2004 Pinot Gris from Alsace, was the perfect, light ending to a wonderfully curated and brilliantly executed meal. Guests were invited to talk to the chefs over post dinner coffee and offers of Chef Salans' mozaic of petit fours.

Le grand dîner

The following day, all four chefs combined their expertise to produce a menu that, in the casual yet elegant setting of the Mozaic Beach Club in Seminyak, was the perfect antidote to a weekend in what has been described as a "Paradise in Indonesia."

With the backdrop of the setting sun, Chef Caron's seabream carpaccio began the evening on a fresh, high note with flavors of lemon basil and Russian caviar. Accompaniments to the light course ranged from Lanson Black Lable Champagne to a sparkling Moscato wine.

Chef Marx was in charge of the crustacean offering on the seafood menu with a delicious Arabian Deep Sea Langoustine served with fennel purée and leek fondue. Soft bites of the fleshy langoustine seemed to fit the general seaside atmosphere in the confines of the beach club in Seminyak.

Chef Pourcel's excellent wagyu beef returned to this evening's table and provided the necessary heft and balance to the superb menu. The balance of sweet shallot and coffee and juicy meat was pitch-perfect and seemed to bounce off the palate.

Fresh nutmeg financiers and sorbet by Chef Salans were the perfect accompaniment to a St. Vernier cheese and served as the appropriate interlude to Chef Ephraim's milk chocolate mousse, whimsically placed in a tight ball of chocolate and served with keffir lime clay, keffir lime gelato and baby starfruit.

It is not often that four great chefs from the same region fuse their styles in a menu but at this culinary extravaganza, held for the first time, the famed chefs certainly celebrated the food they were most connected to in a way that left diners satisfied and yearning for an encore.