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Dining - page 3

Chef’s recipes, gourmet restaurants, exotic flavours, even street food

Chef du jour: Villa Amarelo

in Culture/Dining/Families by

At Elite Havens, each villa’s menu showcases an extensive range of Asian and western delights to cater to every guest’s tastes, but of course each chef has his or her own specialties that shouldn’t be missed. 

The stylish six-bedroom escape Villa Amarelo, part of the Sava Beach Villas estate, seamlessly melts into the white sands of Natai Beach, less than half an hour’s drive north of Phuket airport. Featuring a 25-metre pool, a garden gazebo, private chef and large indoor and outdoor living areas, Villa Amarelo makes for a memorable holiday and wedding destination on the shores of the Andaman Sea, the ideal spot for a family holiday, dream wedding or group soiree.

In the kitchen at Villa Amarelo, which has stunning views of the swimming pool and the beautiful Natai Beach, Chef Lek cooks up a traditional Thai starter Goong Sarong, ‘wrapped prawns’. It looks great and tastes even better.

Elite Havens: What is your cooking background?

Chef Lek: I worked as a housekeeping attendant at Villa Saanti, but the villa didn’t provide a chef. Therefore, I needed to learn cooking to help out the owner. Later on, I worked as a comis chef at Akyra Hotel for a year and a half. There, I learnt how to cook many kinds of western dishes.

EH: What do you think makes a good cook?

CL: Ensuring that all the ingredients are fresh and of good quality. A good eye for detail and being able to adapt to different styles and requests from guests.

EH: What did you cook for us today?

CL: Goong Sarong, which is whole prawns wrapped in rice noodles.

EH: Why did you choose to make this dish for us?

CL: Thailand, especially the south, produces amazing fresh seafood, and the prawns are a must-try if you visit Phuket. Local prawns and local Phuket noodles together make a great-tasting and wonderful-looking dish.

EH: What is your specialty dish or the flavors you like to cook with?

CL: I love local Southern Thai food. It has such amazing flavors. I really love to cook Southern Thai Red Curry with beef.

EH: Can you tell us how your cooking adds to the villa?

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Niseko Gourmet: The Chefs At Your Doorstep

in Culture/Destinations/Dining by

The lure of fresh, white snow is strong. The slopes call out for you to explore this pristine and picture-perfect landscape. You ski and snowboard to your heart’s content. Welcome to Niseko, where all your dreams of an adrenaline-packed snow adventure are fulfilled. With so much daily physical activity, there is a need to replenish and re-energize, and this is where Niseko really delivers the goods. Niseko Gourmet is the local culinary favourite, providing a private chef, fresh ingredients and a host to your own chalet.

Twelve years ago, Tess Stomski came to Japan to work as part of the winter staff in a resort. She vowed to come back and live in this wonderful country, a dream she fulfilled a few years later. She started providing food and dining experiences to skiers and other vacationers in Niseko and thus Niseko Gourmet was born. Needless to say, it was an instant hit.

“As one of the world’s top ski destinations, Niseko can accommodate 20,000 people. But the restaurants can only seat 2,000. Even if they do multiple seatings, the opportunity gap was fairly large,” says Jon Stonham, CEO of Elite Havens, which owns Niseko Gourmet.

Stomski ventured out to meet potential business contacts and farmers.  Niseko Gourmet’s first chef was Chef Chisato Amagai, with whom she co-wrote a book,  ‘Harvest Niseko’. Chef Chisato conceived the first home-cooked five-course dinner, to be prepared in front of the guests in their own holiday home. 

“We have three levels of offerings. At the very base, we can do market shopping for those who wish to self-cater. Then there is delivery of gourmet food to the chalet. And at the very top, we offer bespoke gourmet experiences like a chef preparing a special meal within your chalet,” Jon Stonham elucidates.

Stomski then met Chef Kamada, a 70-year old sushi master with his own 35 year old restaurant in nearby Kutchan. Kamada now makes two to three sushi dinners every night for the clients of Niseko Gourmet.

The most popular part of the Niseko Gourmet service is the bespoke experience. The indulgence of having a luxuriant meal cooked especially for you, makes it stand out. “We use local Hokkaido ingredients,” shares Annie Craig,

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Savour Seventh Heaven at The Layar

in Dining by

A perfect blend of modern sophistication and the traditional warmth of an Italian kitchen.

Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven), a contemporary Italian restaurant in Seminyak’s Jalan Pankung Sari area, welcomes you for breakfast, lunch, cocktails or dinner. The restaurant shares its neighbourhood with The Layar Designer Villas and Spa, Gallery Randelli, Kendra Gallery of Contemporary Art and the trendy Seminyak beach scene.

The Design

This lovely restaurant is tucked amongst the lush tropical gardens of The Layar Designer Villas and Spa. A path leads over a pond and past a dramatic fire feature to the cocktail terrace. Beyond, in the main restaurant, a glass ceiling creates an alfresco dining experience, rain or shine. 

The interiors include quirky hanging lamps and a bar topped by bamboo-inspired objects. The feeling is tropical-meets-Italian with the green chairs and red pillows. Yet, there is a classic and welcoming feel in the space, much like the personalities of the Balinese themselves. Italians, we know as well, are equally a warm group people.

The Chef

‘’I started as a chef in my mom’s kitchen,”says Chef Alberto Pancio. “My mom is like a traditional Italian mom and grandmother who makes everything homemade.” Thus begins the story of Chef Pancio, as he’s called by his friends, before the long journey to his current post as chef of Settimo Cielo at The Layar Designer Villas and Spa.

Upon entering his teens, Chef Pancio decided to go to a school in Italy from where many successful chefs hail. General education before specialization included formation on food and beverage management, concierge management and staff management. He then worked in several restaurants before ending up in China, working as a chef for El Willy. El Willy, says Chef Pancio, “is a big group with a great and friendly Spanish owner. The concept is Mediterranean food with a flair.”

Although El Willy isn’t a find dining restaurant, it uses traditional methods to make dishes. It then presents the food in a fine-dining manner. “We made the work on fine bowls and ceramics. I used to shape them and it was pretty fun.”

Pancio then had the opportunity to work in Bali. “I really love Settimo Cielo and I love the style because we also have villas. They are amazing. We have a lot of room to improve and we use the freshest ingredients.”

The Food

Chef Pancio says that pasta is made fresh everyday in Settimo Cielo,

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Thailand’s Sweet Indulgences

in Culture/Dining/News/Shops/Tips by
Chocolate

“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.”

– Katharine Hepburn

Thailand is world-renowned for its amazing street food, exotic tropical fruits, and delicious sweet desserts. But for those visiting Thailand who need their chocolate fix, there is one artisan chef in Phuket who is the go-to guy when it comes to anything dark, milky or white.

Thailand does not have a rich history of chocolate unlike some of its Southeast Asian neighbours such as Indonesia, which grew almost no cocoa before the early 1980s when production took off like a rocket. Now, Indonesia is the world’s third leading producer of cocoa beans. Cocoa production in Thailand fell out of favour decades ago for rubber, but lately there has been a resurgence with a small number of growers and producers emerging in northern and western Thailand.

Thai cocoa is finally getting the recognition it deserves, with two Thai chocolate producers placed high in the 2018 International Chocolate Awards show.

Paradai brand took silver for their Belize dark milk 63% bar in the ‘dark milk chocolate’ category and Kad Kokoa won bronze in the ‘plain dark chocolate bar’ category for their Chiang Mai single origin bar. They also opened Bangkok’s first bean-to-bar café in Sathorn earlier this year, offering all things chocolatey, from desserts and hot chocolate to cocoa butter soap.

English award-winning Pastry Chef Peter Webber trained at School Le Notre in Paris to study pastry and chocolate and started work at The Inn on The Park, London and The Savoy Hotel, where he gained his first Executive Pastry Chef position and was honoured by being sent to do promotions at The Okura Hotel in Tokyo and The Oriental Hotel, Bangkok. He was also involved in many special events and competitions in Europe.

Chef Peter moved to Asia to the famed Oriental Hotel, Bangkok as the Executive Pastry Chef where he would stay for more than a decade, even pleasing the taste buds of the Queen of England during official state visits at The Grand Palace.

Chef Peter now owns and creates chocolate masterpieces at his patisserie, Les Diables, inspiring and serving a loyal clientele with the utmost attention to taste and detail. They specialise in cakes for special occasions,

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Chocolate Heaven in Bali

in Culture/Dining/Tips by

It’s Easter this Sunday, and if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to get your hands on the most delicious chocolates to celebrate the holiday. Chocolates are definitely a “Bali thing,” as evidenced from the number of shops that offer them. The chocolate industry in Bali boomed in the early 1990’s. You’ll find everything from local convenience-store varieties to high-end imported brands. The most flavorful ones we’ve tried here, however, are both homegrown and posh. They’re also all organic and ethically-sourced. From vegan to creamy-smooth varieties, here are the top four.

1) Pod

Easter Chocolate - Pod

Known as one of Indonesia’s best chocolate brands, Pod is the creation of Toby Garritt, who hails from Adelaide, Australia. During his studies in the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, Garritt met his future wife Inda, an Indonesian princess. Fast forward several years and the couple have made Bali their home. It was here that Garritt first thought of creating a chocolate that could rival European ones in flavor and quality. In 2013, the first Pod chocolate was created using Balinese cacao and European machines and processes.

Pod is proud of using locally-and-ethically-sourced ingredients that are sustainable. The brand helps local communities remain relevant in the making of high-quality, delicious chocolates.

Our analysis? The Café Mocha variety gives off a pleasant coffee smell. The chocolate itself has a perfect creamy texture and an excellent sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavor. An added bonus is a coffee-bean crunch with each bite.

The Michelin Guide has hailed Pod “a small band of chocolate makers turning the $100 billion chocolate industry on its head.”

2) Elevated Cacao

Easter Chocolate - Elevated Cacao

Like it’s name suggests, Elevated Cacao goes above and beyond your typical chocolate brand. The label, which hails from Ubud, has a deep appreciation for chocolate, which it claims lifts moods, makes people feel better and, simply, “smile.” Raw, vegan and absolutely ethically-sourced, Elevated Cacao is the brainchild of foreigners Amanda and Paul, who met in Yoga Teacher Training in 2015. Paul was an experienced chocolatier and taught Amanda the business of raw chocolate-making. The two focus their time on creating only the healthiest and purest forms of chocolates.

One of the brands initiatives?

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