Last updated on February 4th, 2024 at 12:00 pm
I first met Chef Gaetan Biesuz (also known as Chef G) during a two Michelin-starred dinner in Singapore. Amongst the tables filled with celebrated personalities and big egos, Chef Gaetan left a great impression on me.
There is something about him that is different from most personalities I’ve met in Asia and here’s why.
Chef Gaetan has no airs. He has no intentions to impress with his culinary director title at the one of the most prestigious luxury hotels in Bali. No humble bragging too. Chef Gaetan’s presence has a sense of ease.
In essence, he has a quiet confidence.
I later discovered that he has such a strong passion in what he does at Raffles Bali. Chef Gaetan’s culinary philosophy and values run deep.
Since my recent stay at Raffles Bali, I’ve also learnt that Bali has more to offer in the luxury travel and gastronomy scene. From the most underrated (and surprising) local produce, to the unique dining experiences at Raffles Bali, let’s get to know Chef Gaetan Biesuzef and explore Bali through his perspective.
- 1. Chef G, tell us something we don’t know about you
- 2. What do you love most about Bali?
- 3. Your favorite produce in Bali?
- 4. What about the most underrated produce in Bali?
- 5. Coffee, tea or Krug?
- 6. Describe Rumari in 3 words
- 7. How was it like to open Rumari during the pandemic and how did it benefit the restaurant today?
- 8. What do you want your guests to experience at Rumari?
- 9. Why are there different types of meal experiences at Rumari?
- 10. What about the most challenging part of doing fine dining in Bali?
- 11. What distinguishes Rumari from other fine dining restaurants in Bali?
- 12. Who is right – Customer or Chef?
- 13. What makes a successful chef in your eyes?
- 14. Who do you want to be a role model for?
- 15. If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?
- 16. What is your favorite activity at Raffles Bali?
- 17. Besides Rumari, what would you recommend guests experience at Raffles Bali?
- 18. What recharges you?
- 19. What are you most grateful for?
- 20. Describe yourself in 3 words
1. Chef G, tell us something we don’t know about you
At a young age, I wanted to become a firefighter. But then I was exposed to my grandmother’s cooking skills. She was a professional chef and one of her sons (my uncle) had a catering company. So I started at a young age (11 years old) spending my weekends with them and discovered that my passion is cooking.
That’s when I decided that I will become a chef.
2. What do you love most about Bali?
I have been living in Bali since August 2019. I love the diversity of Bali in all senses – People, culture, food, scenery, and as a chef, the bountiful local fresh produce and spices we can find here.
3. Your favorite produce in Bali?
Without a doubt, it is the Black Heritage Pig. Here are my reasons why:
- This pig is the heritage of Bali. It is very important for me to preserve the heritage part of Bali because this is one of the reasons why I believe tourists travel to Bali – that is, to discover Bali for its heritage.
- Bali’s most well-known recipe is Babi Guling.
- I grew up in Lyon, France and one of the widely-used ingredients is the pig. We used it in all different ways so that makes it natural for me to feel connected with Black Heritage Pig
- The last reason is also very important. To get a happy and healthy pig, it is the people behind the farm. The founder, George, built an amazing environment to make it right: Free-range, 100% organic, 100% self-sustainable and it’s only 1:30 hour from Raffles Bali. We aim to support the local community and people and this aligns with our philosophy too.
4. What about the most underrated produce in Bali?
Cheese. Indeed for a French chef, it’s funny that I pick cheese.
I must admit that the quality and variety of cheese in Bali and Indonesia are surprisingly very good quality and fresh. Cows and goats have a very diverse selection here, including super fresh burrata.
5. Coffee, tea or Krug?
Coffee in the morning and tea in the evening. Can’t start the morning without coffee – it’s impossible.
Krug for me, is a natural choice for my restaurant, Rumari.
As it is a champagne with character and boldness, it represents very well the cuisine and flavor we want to offer. The story of Krug and the story of our owner’s company goes hand in hand too. So it makes sense that we associate the two together.
Krug Maison values are aligned with ours. It’s quality over quantity. Each bottle has a code and is treated as one. It is the same way we treat our guests, we treat them one at a time.
6. Describe Rumari in 3 words
Comfortable, Bold, Refinement.
7. How was it like to open Rumari during the pandemic and how did it benefit the restaurant today?
It has been a journey. We were not ready for it but we were able to turn around the situation for the better.
From the conception of a fine dining restaurant, to not being able to operate due to Covid with curfew, and changing the focus to brunch instead. Brunch became very successful during Covid as it was the only time that guests could enjoy eating out.
We also used this time to research, test, and select the farmers and fishermen that we wanted to work with. So after the airport re-opened, we were ready and restarted the main concept of fine dining at Rumari.
Also, the encouragement from the domestic guests on the flavor of the food that we had developed was priceless. It was the backbone of where we are today.
8. What do you want your guests to experience at Rumari?
Breakfast is laidback and focuses on simplicity and freshness.
For dinner, we want to showcase that with local ingredients we can create an experience that could compete with any fine dining around the region with our own identity and focus on flavor and ingredients.
9. Why are there different types of meal experiences at Rumari?
From the beginning we wanted to remove the word “All Day Dining” at Raffles Bali.
As we have 2 restaurants, we decided that Rumari provides the breakfast and a fine dining dinner experience while Loloan Bar and Grill does casual dining for both lunch and dinner.
This helps to change the atmosphere and experience for each meal service so that guests don’t feel bored easily. Or at least we are continuing it this way until a potential 3rd restaurant comes into the residence.
By then, Rumari will be the signature fine dining restaurant. Plus, a potential additional Omakase counter at Rumari to expand the experience.
10. What about the most challenging part of doing fine dining in Bali?
The most challenging part is, for years, Bali has been seen as a “cheap destination”, “backpackers”, “surfer”. So naturally, fine dining is challenging.
But I sense that things are changing for the better. We must continue to push as the fine dining scene has a huge potential to help the ecosystem of Bali better, and increase the overall quality.
11. What distinguishes Rumari from other fine dining restaurants in Bali?
We are not here to compete with anyone except ourselves so it is consistently researched on doing better every day ensuring a good value to our guests with an experience that is very unique to us.
At Rumari, we offer not just a meal but a real, gastronomic journey around the region.
When we change a menu are not just changing the menu. We talk to farmers and fishermen. Through these conversations, we understand what will be coming next, changing the look and feel of the menu itself. We don’t take ourselves seriously but we are very serious in what we do every day.
Rumari is opened during COVID-19 and have grown since then. One thing that never changed is our philosophy. That is the main difference with other fine dining in Bali.
Also, right from beginning, I’ve committed that my entire team will be from Indonesia. This might take me little longer to where I want to place them in the restaurant but is very important to me.
12. Who is right – Customer or Chef?
My grandmother will always say “You must treat the customer like a King“. For me, none is right or wrong. It is important to understand others feelings.
At the end of the day, we are here to provide an experience that customers enjoy and put a smile in their face. That said, it is important that there must be mutual respect. If customers do not respect the chef or service team, we must let them know that we do not support this kind of behavior.
13. What makes a successful chef in your eyes?
A successful chef is someone who can face all challenges and turn the worst situation for the better and ensure that he shares all his knowledge with the younger generation. We are not supposed to keep the knowledge that we have but rather is our responsibility to give to others.
14. Who do you want to be a role model for?
I would like to be a role model for transmitting passion and showing my team (all local) that they can do whatever they put their mind to and they should be very proud of what Indonesia has to offer.
15. If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?
Never doubt yourself and dream bigger.
16. What is your favorite activity at Raffles Bali?
My favorite activity is to challenge myself and my team to always come up with new things to surprise our repeat or new guests. Never stop improving, never stop to learn, and never stop evolving.
17. Besides Rumari, what would you recommend guests experience at Raffles Bali?
Guests should explore the dining destinations that we have created around the property. Each of them has a different ambiance and menu:
- The Secret Cave – focuses on ingredients from underground
- Purnama Honeymoon Balet – focuses on products from the ocean
- Farm Terrace – focus on produce from the farms
- Private Room, Omakase – no menu and the focus is on guest’s preference
- BBQ in the villa – private chef at the villa in a laid back atmosphere with a beautiful view
18. What recharges you?
Spending time with my wife and my dog, Rockxee.
I take great pride in having chosen a pit bull terrier dog to show people that all dogs should be treated the same. If a dog is aggressive, it is not the dog’s fault but the owner’s. Pit bull terrier can be super sweet and a lot of fun.
19. What are you most grateful for?
I am very grateful to have been able to discover my passion and choose at a young age what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. This has given me the opportunity to travel around the globe and meet so many great people. Some become great friends.
20. Describe yourself in 3 words
Humble, passionate, thankful.
Thank you, Chef Gaetan Biesuz.
Stay tuned for my full review of Raffles Bali, my dining experience at Rumari and the 4-hand dinner that he collaborated with two Michelin-starred Chef Paulo Airaudo from Amelia restaurant next.
Image credit: Raffles Bali