When it comes to food, there is no place like Bali. The best chefs from all around the world come to Bali to bring their expertise or simply change their life and make Bali their home. Geoff Lindsay is one of those magnificent Chefs.
Named Chef of the year by The Age Good Food Guide. Over 80 awards in Australia alone, including, One, Two and Three Chef Hats. This Aussie Chef now calls Bali home.
We chat with Geoff about living in Bali, his love of cooking and his new venture, Salumeria Tanah Barak.
Saigon Street, Bali
How did you your love for food begun?
My love of food can from my mum I guess. We came from a grazing and dairy farming area of Western Victoria, a town called Warrnambool. My mum’s side of the family was dairy farmers, we had cousins who were lobster fishermen. Food and the production of good food were always around us growing up.
When did you decide to to make cooking your life work?
I worked for one of Australia’s most iconic chefs and restaurateurs Stephanie Alexander for about 6 years in the ‘80s. It was at that time that I really feel in love with the package of being a chef, being surrounded by great food and also the realization that what I did was a great medium to bring people together to entertain, educate and pacify.
Being a Chef is not for the faint-hearted. The hours, the high demand and the quality expectations are intensely high up. How did you learn to cope with such a highly stressful job?
Kitchens are very stressful. The combination of heat, tiny close quarters and ‘feeding time’ can often make the chef feel as though they are under siege! The hours add to the stress, we all know how important the shared family mealtimes are. This is impossible for a chef.
I have developed better tools to cope with the stress, as I have grown older, and the paradise of Bali certainty makes it easier.
You have 3 international business running simultaneously. As a chef part of the job is having multiple pots on the burning stove. How do you divide your time? How do you do it all?
I love it, each of the businesses is very different so it’s always exciting. Dandelion in Melbourne is a very consistent business that rolls along very nicely. Saigon Street is an excitement machine, big numbers and always a party. Salumeria is new, still being formed, needs a lot of love and very special to me.
The busy times in Australia are different (with a few exceptions) to the high seasons in Bali so I can come back and forward and hopefully synchronize with them. Melbourne’s high season is from November to April, Bali May to October.
I try to do 1 month in Bali and 1 month in Melbourne. My beautiful wife Jane and our son Noah (3) are based in Bali so it gets harder and harder to leave!
3 ½ years ago you decided to have a change of pace and move to Bali. Why did you choose Bali? Has it been so far the right decision?
Jane and I were looking for a bit of a sea change. We had good friends in Bali and decided to give it a try. We have grown more and more in love with its culture and the people and have become very attached to Canggu!
Its certainly been the right decision and we will probably never get Bali out of our systems!
Salumeria Tanah Barak, Bali
You’ve just opened Salumeria Tanah Barak (my favorite place!) which is an Italian Resto & Campari bar with Spuntini as the main base for your dishes. Your specialty for the last few years has been Vietnamese food, what made you make the move into Italian food?
When I first started my cooking career I worked in Italian and French restaurants, classical stuff, a great base for a chef. It wasn’t until I had cooked for quite a few years that I was seduced by the fragrance and flavors of South East Asian Cuisine, especially Vietnamese cuisine.
After being in Canggu for a few years, I saw an opening for this style of dining. Most Italian restaurants in Bali feature every single dish from the Italian repertoire. This doesn’t happen in Italy. Traditionally a pizzeria will serve pizza and a trattoria will serve pasta. With that there are many different styles of restaurants of which a Salumeria is one, specializing in Salumi and Cheeses, creating dishes from those ingredients, serving aperitivo and spuntini or little snacks like a casual Italian ‘Tapas’.
What are the main challenges when opening a restaurant in Bali? And what are the benefits?
Bali has many challenges and rewards, from a business perspective there is a lot of red tape and complicated rules and regulations. Nothing is ever crystal clear…
From a staffing perspective, the Balinese have incredible natural hospitality that means they make great waiters.
The produce is getting better and better all the time. When we first opened I presumed all the Italian style produce I would need for the menu would have to be imported. But I have been blown away with the Salamis, culatello and local prosciutto, the amazing goat’s cheeses and European style cheeses. The local fresh mozzarella and burrata are unreal! We made the decision pretty quickly to specialize in the local stuff and make it a feature of the business.
From a design and conceptualization standpoint doing business in Bali is very exciting. You don’t need to get building permits or go to the council to have plans ratified. Just about anything can be built for you at a fraction of the cost it would be for me to say in Australia.
Saigon Street, Bali
I wouldn’t have thought of Indonesia as a great provider of Prosciuttos and Formacios, but every single cheese and salami that I have tried at Salumeria is of the highest quality. Where do you source your ingredients from?
We get great cheeses from all over Bali and Java and most of our Italian style cured meats come from Bali. There isn’t a centralized market or supplier for all these products so we have to deal direct, mostly, with producers. Most, generally sell at the local organic farmer’s markets, so it takes a while to establish a repour. But we have made some great friends and are working on special products, just for us.
Our Italian cured meats like Culatello, Proscuitto and salamis have been taken from larger more sophisticated operations, as this kind of curing requires a very clean, controlled environment to avoid unwanted molds. We purchase the whole of the meat, not vacuum packed and age them for longer than they would normally be released to the market, revealing a complex and richer flavor.
Salumeria Tanah Barak, Bali
Geoff Favourite places
To dine: Ji Restaurant at Tugu Hotel. Great cocktails, amazing room and the best sushi in Bali. It’s close to home and we love it.
For a cocktail: Da Maria, great Italian cocktails, I love Campari and this is the second-best place to drink it in Bali. An inspired blend of food, music, design and drinks. Very good fun.
To shop: Samadi Organic market on a Sunday in Padang Linjong. We get a week’s supply of organic fruit and veg. Bali’s best eggs and chickens from Wanaprasta, turmeric juice and seafood from Made Fish!
To play with the family: The beach at Old Mans. It’s the simplest of experiences but still my favorite.
SALUMERIA TANAH BARAK