Renowned French Chef Karim Hassene will join the AYANA Resort in a guest's capacity at their premier restaurant Dava through January 10, 2011. Originally from Chablis, Burgundy, Karim is currently the Executive Chef at The Leela Palace Kempinski in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, where, according to Conde Nast Traveller's 2010 Gold List he has "elevated the dining options in the city." Previously, he worked seven years with Ritz-Carlton Group, including stints as Executive Sous Chef in St Thomas, San Francisco, and Sarasota.
The Interview: Chef Karim Hassene in Residence at Dava – The AYANA Resort Bali
Balidiscovery.com: Who were your biggest inspirations in the kitchen?
Chef Hassene: "I started my career with one of the best Chefs in France, Gerard Vie from 'Les Trois Marches' in Versailles, a two Michelin star restaurant. He taught me to love what I do and inspired me to become a Chef."
Balidiscovery.com: What have been your greatest successes and biggest setbacks?
Chef Hassene: "Working with the Ritz Carlton was a big highlight indeed. It allowed me to indulge my creativity. I have been fortunate not to have any big setbacks; there will always be challenges which allow me to grow as a person and become an even a better Chef in the future."
Balidiscovery.com: What do you consider as your particular culinary specialty?
Chef Hassene: "My specialty is mainly Mediterranean, it allows me to use the many flavors from this vast region. I was born into a family of culinary experts; my mother taught in a culinary school and my parents owned a restaurant in France. I was also inspired by the secret recipes that my grandmother taught me growing up. I was formally trained in both classic and French nouvelle cuisine. These formed a fundamental strong base, allowing me to travel and incorporate new techniques learnt from various culinary cultures around the world."
Balidiscovery.com: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Chef Hassene: "Every day is a new day to create something new, it is rewarding to see the look on guests' faces when they bite into a nice, smooth, simple mashed potato blended with roasted garlic and finished with a spoon of mascarpone. That's my greatest reward."
Balidiscovery.com: What are some of the classic dishes that diners can expect on your menus in Bali?
Chef Hassene: "Old-fashioned stews like Sautee of Veal Marengo, Coq au Vin or Blanquette of Veal. I enjoy practicing ancient techniques of cooking and using clay tajine, cast iron cocotte or a wood oven, for these make a difference to color, texture and, of course, taste."
Balidiscovery.com: If you weren't a chef, what would you be?
Chef Hassene: "As we say it in French, 'Jardinier' or 'The Gardener.' I love working in the garden to find new techniques to obtain the best fruits or vegetables, depending on the quality of earth, the vitamins or their position in the garden. It's like a painter creating a canvas, and, as I always say to my Chefs: 'You have to respect first your product, and he will respect you on your plate.'"
Balidiscovery.com: What dish are you most proud of?
Chef Hassene: "My foie gras terrine. I won a competition three years in a row for the best foie gras in Paris; it is my proudest moment to date."
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