Five minutes with Chef Putu Nada
Assuredly navigating the team and working with different executive chefs for the past 22 years, Chef Putu Nada Astawa, is a popular figure amongst The Legian’s long time guests. Get to know The Legian Seminyak, Bali’s longest-serving chef as he shares his favourite Balinese dishes, why he never cooks at home and how The Legian Seminyak, Bali has become a part of him.
What inspired you to become a chef?
My mum used to cook for us everyday and she became my inspiration. She makes the best sambal kluwek, a traditional Balinese dish; it contains the kluwek nut mixed with red onion, green chili, lemon and coconut oil, served with hot white rice. My favourite!
What local ingredients do you love to use?
Of course, the spices. There are endless options: ginger, galangal, turmeric, cinnamon, you name it. They are great for traditional Balinese cooking, but also for homemade remedies that I make for my wife and daughter.
Where is the best place in Bali to buy fresh ingredients? Where do the locals shop?
Most homes in Bali have what we call “Dapur Hidup” (Live Kitchen) – it’s basically a small garden to grow spices. I also have one at home where we grow galangal, ginger, and lemongrass. This is the best way to get fresh basic ingredients since it’s organic and natural.
At The Legian Seminyak, Bali, we also have a Wellness Garden where we grow our own herbs and ingredients that we use to create various dishes and beverage served throughout the hotel.
Tell us about your cooking style…
I combine the best of both worlds, fusing European and Asian cooking styles.
How about when you’re at home?
I rarely cook at home! After a full day of cooking at the hotel, I’d rather do something else, like look after my garden.
What was your favourite snack as a child?
My grandma used to cook and sell her food around the neighbourhood, such as banana fritters, boiled egg with soy sauce, and other traditional snacks. I remembered always following her around the neighbourhood and getting a taste of her food.
Where is your favourite spot in Bali?
Just minutes away from my village in Ubud, there is a place called Titi Batu – it’s a bridge that crosses a river that has lots of stones (stones in Bahasa is “Batu, hence the name) and it has become a local attraction where people come for a dip in the river. I’ve been going there since I was a little kid and I sometimes still go to relax and reminisce.
You’ve been at The Legian Seminyak for over 20 years! Tell us how you started and what made you stay?
I started my career when The Legian first opened in 1997 as Chef De Partie. Now, 22 years later I am still here as an Executive Sous Chef. It’s a long time but it doesn’t feel that long because I enjoy every minute of what I’m doing here. What made me stay? Every single thing about the hotel and its people, it truly is my family – my second home.
If you could go anywhere in the world to eat anything, where would you go?
I would love to go to Japan, and explore the little izakayas and munch on fresh sushi and sashimi.