Where do you come from?
I am dual national French and American, born in the U.S.A.
of a French mother and American father. I moved to Paris when
I was two and lived there until I was 18. Living in a French
family I was brought up eating my mother’s French home
cooking and drinking wine; my mother is from the region of
Sologne, where game and mushrooms abound.
What is your professional background?
After graduating from Tufts University in Boston, USA, I turned
to my passion, cooking. I joined the Cordon Bleu cooking school
in Paris. There followed various internships, landing
my first job at a small bistro called Les Amognes still the
best one in Paris if you ask me. I transferred to Lucas Carton,
another 3-Michelin-star restaurant where I worked my way up
to head Saucier.
Having barely survived the tyranny of French chefs I decided
to further my career in the United States. I was fortunate
enough to be hired in New York city by David Bouley as a sous
chef. I worked under his command for a year during which I
developed an awe for Asian cuisine to such a point, that I
decided to accept a position as an executive chef for two
luxury boutique hotels in Bali. I have also worked in the
Napa Valley in California as Head Chef in Thomas Keller’s
French bistro, Bouchon and again for David Bouley of New York.
How did you ever wind up in Bali?
The first time I visited Bali was while I was working at GHM
in Singapore. I wanted to learn about Asian cuisine, so they
sent me to Bali. Then I met a Javanese girlfriend whom
I married 6 months later. She lived in the USA with
me for two years and we then decided to go back to Bali to
raise a family. (We are still involved in that effort!) During
our time in Bali, I took on the position as head chef at Ary’s
Warung in Ubud where I tried to create a cuisine which balanced
Indonesian flavors and Western techniques.
Where did you get the idea of starting a restaurant of Mozaic’s
class in Ubud?
Cooking this kind of food is what I do best and since cooking
is a true passion for me I did it no matter what other people
said. I decided to locate in Ubud because I have always preferred
Ubud. It represents Bali a lot more than Kuta or Sanur. It’s
also cooler and I do not much like the heat.
What is the concept, the mission statement, behind the restaurant?
I like to call the Mozaic a destination restaurant. That means
it’s a place where people want to go and to come back
to again and about which they will tell their friends and
acquaintances. It becomes a primary destination in the
tourists planned itinerary, not just a happenstance stop at
a convenient location. What makes it a destination?
That perfect convergence between quality of food, good service
and a convivial ambiance.
Generally speaking, what kind of people dine at the Mozaic?
Is there a "typical" patron?
All sorts of people, and that's the difficulty. We get
people from all nationalities. We get foodies who come
to Bali for Mozaic as well as people who come who thought
they were going to have an Indonesian meal??!! It's completely
surprising peoples reactions and expectations.
Who else is on the Mozaic staff and what do they bring to
Many people but just as an example, Francois Seurin is our
new pastry chef and he completes Mozaic's concept and cuisine
by bringing his pastries to the level of my cuisine.
Also we have our Balinese management team such as Cok, the
manager, without whom Mozaic would not be what it is. My Sous
Chef's Wayan and Bagus who can cook Mozaic quality if I'm
not around, and for Balinese people THAT'S INCREDIBLE!!!
And not to forget my chief accountant Wiras who maintains
my peace of mind and allows me to focus on what I do best;
Do the Mozaic service and kitchen staff go through a training
You bet! Staff are trained 2 to 3 times a week depending on
high or low season. The training is about service knowledge,
food knowledge, beverage knowledge, etc. Since our menus
change almost daily we must continuously train the staff.
Teaching is done by classroom teaching + role playing + graded
tests. 99% of the staff are Balinese.
What makes the Mozaic different from other high end "tourist"
restaurants in Ubud and Bali?
Don’t ask me, ask my customers of which many are residents
in Ubud and Bali. We have guest comment cards for every guest
so we get a lot of feedback from our customers. I would
say that 50% of the guest love the Mozaic experience, 30%
compare us to Michelin star restaurants in Europe, 10% say
that I am a genius and another 10% do not appreciate what
What are the Mozaic's signature dishes?
There is no Mozaic signature dish. The cuisine continuously
changes and evolves and the menu changes almost every day.
Some dishes come back but none of the dishes stay on the menu
for that long!
What do you like most and least about your job?
Most: Cooking. Least: Running a business.
For anyone interested in being considered for Siapa, please
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Copyright@2005 Al Hickey
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