(Food) Art Gives Life Meaning
12 Jul 2022
When freewheeling creativity and sharp kitchen skills work together, food and art collide.
Earning a Michelin star (or two) takes more than precision, skills and mastering techniques. Meet the chefs behind these nine top restaurants who are as much artists as they are kitchen masters and mentors.
From the chef who sketches every dish idea to the one who pictures himself by the sea each morning, these talented and creative culinary stars use the plate as their canvas and knife as a paintbrush.
Hear how they draw inspiration from the seasons or their heritage, lean into color and texture, and how they marry flavor and aesthetics to create memorable and emotional dining experiences.
“It’s all about discovery, passion, and experimenting with new recipes. You have to find your own joy when creating the dishes and have faith in what you’re doing,” says Executive Chef Bayu Retno Timur.
The master behind all things culinary at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Ubud uses fresh, local Balinese ingredients in unexpected ways. At the signature bamboo restaurant Kubu, chefs serve up six-to-eight-course Mediterranean-inspired degustation menus.
From the breadbasket and snacks through to the dessert, there’s an element of creativity dashed across every dish. Book a table in one of the nine private dining cocoons to make the most of Kubu’s romantic setting by the majestic Ayung River.
Azure 45, Tokyo
Michelin-starred Azure 45 is a brilliant blend of east-meets-west, taking inspiration from spectacular Tokyo views and contemporary French cuisine. Up high on the 45th floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, chef de cuisine Shintaro Miyazaki sources the best Japanese beef, poultry, seafood, and vegetables for his prix-fixe lunch and dinner tasting menus.
Gaining and retaining a Michelin star takes dedication, creativity and skill. Chef Miyazaki isn’t afraid of a challenge and the once small-town-chef’s passion for French cuisine still prevails
Tosca di Angelo, Hong Kong
This isn’t your average Italian restaurant. Sicilian chef Angelo Aglianò is the mastermind behind the one Michelin-starred Tosca di Angelo, a breathtaking Kowloon fine diner with amazing views over Hong Kong.
“Tosca is a big opera in Italy. I’m the one playing the music in this opera,” says Aglianò. “Whenever I create a recipe, I put in 25% of my heart. I want you to feel pleasure and emotion when you are eating. That way you will remember it forever.”
Each morning in Hong Kong, the Sicilian chef arrives early at The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong to sit by the window and let his imagination take him away. The skyscrapers disappear and all he feels is the ocean. “The sea gives me everything. It gives me happiness,” he says.
Committed to the seasons and the sea, Tosca di Angelo’s menu is focused on reinventing fresh fish and seafood in a contemporary Italian way.
“Most of my inspiration is from nostalgia and muscle memory,” says head chef David Hartwig. The Swiss native dreams up his best new kitchen creations after dark when his subconscious mind kicks in just before bed.
But taking an idea and turning into plated art is just the beginning. At Michelin-starred IGNIV Bangkok the whole team crafts new dishes in a collaborative, considered approach. “The team is involved and everyone gives input, then we create the recipes and define plating,” Hartwig says.
Together with sous chef and pastry chef Arne Riehn, the kitchen plates up a whimsical celebration of modern European cuisine at The St. Regis Bangkok.
L’Envol, Hong Kong
“My inspiration comes from the beauty in seasonality, the driving force of the ongoing process where we keep changing the recipe. Every aspect of the recipe is designed to curate a holistic journey through the tastes, aroma and colours of every season – plate by plate. As soon as we see that the product is no longer at its prime, we take it off the menu and replace it with one that is,” says Chef Olivier Elzer.
Leading the team at two-Michelin-starred L'Envol, chef Elzer’s quest to refine and redefine French gastronomy is forever evolving. He finds inspiration and motivation in always trying to reach the next level with his art.
“If you see my dishes 10 years ago compared to now, it's totally different, and it will be even more different 10 years from now,” he says. “It's an evolution that will never stop, and my philosophy is to stay curious, inspired and motivated for change.”
This French haute cuisine destination at The St. Regis Hong Kong is ranked among the city’s top restaurants and serves a signature six or eight-course menu, or a shorter lunchtime version. That’s not to mention the 170 Champagne labels. Santé!
La Baie, Osaka
Enter another dimension when you enter La Baie, The Ritz-Carlton Osaka’s signature restaurant. The elegant and opulent Michelin-starred spot serves traditional French fare with a twist under the helm of chef Christophe Gibert.
The Bretagne-born and raised chef worked his way around Paris, Nice and Monte Carlo before reaching the shores of Japan 20 years ago. Now in this dimly lit, wood paneled brasserie chef Gibert finds inspiration in his French roots and Japan’s changing of the seasons. He does this by combining European meat and seafood (La Baie is French for “the bay”) with local vegetables to create sophisticated course menus that pair perfectly with the award-winning wine list.
The Gantry, Sydney
Set in a heritage-listed waterfront building, the recently renovated The Gantry is a quintessential Sydney dining experience that places you right on the harbor at Pier One. Head chef Rhys Connell is passionate about championing Australia’s stunning seasonal produce and seafood, and pushing classic, intricately layered dishes seasoned for the Australian culinary landscape. Connell takes his inspiration from forward-thinking artisans and producers, using unique techniques and neat flavours to create dishes that accentuate the ingredients’ natural beauty while revealing new flavour layers with each mouthful.
Agung Gede is a culinary artist in every sense. The Balinese-born executive chef at Kayuputi first brings his imagination to life on a sketchpad, opting for pencils and paper rather than knives and a chopping board.
Set by the Indian Ocean and Nusa Dua beach, Kayuputi food imitates art when Chef Agung transforms those sketches into a tasting menu that’s as aesthetically pleasing as it is delicious.
Kayaputi, at The St. Regis Bali Resort, is the pinnacle of fine dining in Bali, where appearance, texture and taste combine for an unforgettable Pan-Asian haute cuisine experience right by the beachfront.
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