Interview with Stephane Gortina, ​Executive Chef​–​The ​Legian Seminyak, Bali

Your career has clearly given you many international opportunities. What has been the greatest benefit of working abroad, both personally and professionally?

Professionally, it has been great to discover different cultures everywhere I go. Not only the culture of the country, but also the food: authentic ingredients and the way they eat it. For instance, when I was in Mauritius, I had dinner with one of my team’s families and enjoyed eating the food with my bare hands; eating it the authentic way.

Personally, it exposed me to so many different things and made me have an open mind. Plus, I met my wife in Russia!

How has your upbringing in France influenced your culinary craft?

It’s where I come from, so I’m immersed in the culture (especially the food culture) and that is where I learned all of the foundations of the work that I’m doing now. I always use the best local products and cooking using French techniques.

What lessons have you learned while working at Michelin-star restaurants?

How to be rigorous, work in detail, and be more passionate than ever. It has taught me how to work with high-end cuisine and with people who have high expectations.

What do you believe makes Balinese cuisine stand out? Are there ingredients/dishes you are excited to create with?

Bali has plenty of amazing products – especially the range of vegetables, seafood, and spices. When you have such great ingredients, it’s easy to create a flavourful dish.

How do you get into your “element” to make that perfect dish? What gets the creative juices flowing?

I must say, the atmosphere. You have to see it for yourself; the atmosphere of The Restaurant is just amazing. The live open kitchen, the view, the best ingredients, and a solid team. All of these gets me in my element.

Do you have a favorite signature dish that you enjoy creating?

Marinated mahi-mahi with palm tree and passion fruit. It’s a sustainable seafood dish composed from locally sourced fish in Bali and marinated with fresh and tangy ingredients that makes this a light summer dish.

Describe your dream kitchen. Where would it be located? How would you design it?

It has to have a piano kitchen with the best equipment from Molteny. I’d love to have this equipment in an open live kitchen, where I can interact directly with the people I’m cooking for.

Where? I have no idea. I’ve worked in more than 9 countries in the last 20 years and I still don’t want to fix myself in one place. So we’ll see!

What excites you most about being the new Executive Chef for The Legian Seminyak, Bali?

Working in such an iconic hotel with a solid team. I love being able to get my hands on the freshest, locally-sourced products in Bali. This is also my first time in Bali, so there’s a lot to explore!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

I’ve worked with famous chefs in France and around the world. Jacques Maximin was my first chef and has taught me how to be passionate in this line of work. Alain Ducasse taught me how to always deliver the all-around experience for guests: how to deliver the best products with the right ingredients, in the right place, with perfect cooking and seasoning, all topped with exceptional service. These two chefs really inspired me.

What do you do for fun during your day off?

Spending time with my family of course. It really doesn’t matter what we’re doing, just as long as we spend time together.

Chef Stephane Gortina (2)