Home to over 17,000 islands, the Indonesian archipelago is blessed with eclectic and rich cultural and culinary diversity. With a mission to restore the forgotten recipes from across Indonesia, Wayan Sutariawan, Head Chef at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, has written a cookbook memoir entitled ‘Cherished Recipes From My Childhood’ to immortalise these time-honoured recipes.
As a former “free range village kid”, Chef Wayan “Suta” Sutariawan, believes that many of Indonesia’s most celebrated dishes have been overlooked due to the evolution of modern society in Indonesia. Chef Suta has a viewpoint that these dishes and the stories behind them are a window to Indonesia’s heritage, which has shaped who we are today. As a chef, it has made him feel immensely disheartened to see these recipes fade into history, which is what sparked him to embark on this special project to preserve them.
‘Cherished Recipes From My Childhood’ was a project conceived during the pandemic, a collection of over 30 diverse recipes, which includes his native Balinese favourites, street foods from Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi, along with rare but not forgotten recipes. Readers of the book will discover Chef Suta’s personal anecdotes, heartwarming childhood stories and cultural insights to elevate the flavours that jump out of the pages.
Encouraged by guests to publish the recipes served at the resort’s on-site Chef’s Table Dinner at Sokasi, Chef Suta was inspired to start this cookbook project and set out to make this dream come true. The intimate 7-course Balinese degustation menu at Sokasi is available for a maximum 8 of guests, who are treated to front-row seats to witness the final stages of the chef preparing dishes commonly reserved for Balinese-Hindu ceremonies. When dawn breaks, that’s when the chef starts to cook, long before diners arrive. Utilising 100 percent traditional techniques, the chef uses an underground clay oven for the 12-hour roast duck, a hand-turned coconut-fired spit-roast for the 4-hour suckling pig, and hand-grinding of fresh herbs and spices.
These quintessential dishes are served alongside rare recipes including Ikan Klengis, barramundi fillet marinated in coconut oil extract; Ayam Timbungan with tender pieces of marinated chicken, grilled inside a bamboo; and Jagung Panggang, baby corn grilled wand basted with a tomato and chilli relish, topped with Base Gede, the ‘1000 spices’ paste that Chef Suta calls the “magic” of Balinese food. With each dish served, diners will be cultured on its history, and why it has become forgotten, along with the techniques and ingredients incorporated to breathe life back into them at Sokasi.
In contrast to Sokasi’s concept, which highlights Bali’s most iconic and forgotten dishes, the resort’s main dining venue, Ayung Terrace, celebrates regional Indonesian cuisines from other provinces. Suta’s broad perspective goes beyond Bali’s borders as he resuscitates lost tribal recipes including Bia Paniki, traditionally made with wild bushmeats by the Minahasa tribe in North Sulawesi. Chef Suta elevates this traditional recipe with Premium Angus Beef Striploin while staying true to its original flavours of chilli, ginger and lemon basil.
“Bali has become a foodie’s heaven with restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world, Europe to South America, Asia to Africa. Meanwhile, most Indonesian restaurants serve only the most popular dishes and use shortcuts instead of traditional cooking techniques,” says Suta. “Some of our best recipes are becoming rare for various reasons whether the availability of ingredients, laborious cooking processes or change in local preferences. They can be hard to find unless you are invited to a Balinese person’s home in the village. I’m proud to invite guests to our home here at Four Seasons Sayan and keep alive the foods from my childhood,” said Chef Suta.
Chef Suta’s Cherished Recipes From My Childhood was published in 2022, with hard copies available for purchase at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan at a retail price of IDR 1,300,000nett.
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