The slow-food movement has crawled almost to a standstill in the lush uplands of Bali where the Chedi Club Tanah Gajah Ubud is now plating lunch and dinner fare sprung largely from the grounds of the resort.
While farm to table movements are on the rise around the world, Chef Khairudin ‘Dean’ Nor thought he might do the movement one better by cutting out the costs of transportation almost entirely.
Next week, the resort is rolling out lunch and dinner options every Monday and Thursday with ingredients harvested within 100 metres of the table Dean sets. The catfish are caught from a pond behind the garden. The yams grow behind that villa over there. The cinnamon was ground from bark on a tree by the pool.
“What you see here in the garden is what will be plated,” said Dean.
The ‘Farm to Table’ experience is not merely a matter of eating, however. The 2 – 2.5 hour experience is equal parts horticultural survey, food prep and dining, all under the able hand of a Singaporean-born chef who has stood at the culinary helm of the Chedi Club for seven years.
The experience begins with a fortifying drink, and a wade into the organic garden where the maestro holds court among citronella, various basils (holy & purple) curry leaves and Vietnamese coriander.
Dean explains the story behind each plant, its properties, how it grows, what it’s used for, when to harvest, and other little known oddities (e.g. you can eat the flower of starfruit).
“Don’t be surprised if Chef Dean picks edible weeds and they end up on your plate later,” said one guest on a beta drive of the experience.
Dean prepares dinner in a purpose-built pagoda covered in Thunbergia creepers and fairy lights that comfortably seats six and looks out over the rice paddies.
The menu varies but some of the dishes include mushroom chawanmushi with pomelo, a soup of young mango wrapped in chives with a homemade stock with Vietnamese coriander and kombu, basil gelato, eggplant rolls with purple yam and topped with edible weeds.
Lunch costs US $125++ per couple and dinner at US $200++, including garden tour and a 3-course lunch or a 5-course dinner with a pre-dinner cocktail and farewell gift. The Farm to Table package can accommodate a maximum of six people.