It’s raining chefs in the lush hills of Ubud, Bali. Asia’s beloved Street Food Chef, Will Meyrick, has transported his “chef-in-crime” Palm Amatawet, together with Chef Tim Bartholomew, to the kitchen of Hujan Locale, his latest culinary baby in the centre of town.
Chef Will Meyrick lives, breathes and eats street food and there is no better chef to bring Indonesia’s diverse cultures together through cuisine. We checked in with The Street Food Chef at the newly opened Hujan Locale while waiting out the torrential rain.
Q: What brought about your fifth restaurant, Hujan Locale?
A: We are working closely with local farmers, honouring the relationship. Hujan is all about that. Apart from that, I see that Bali is now saturated with Asian cuisine. Hujan is the manifestation of my desire to come back to my roots. Yes, we have Asian dishes on the menu for lunch, but we also offer hearty European comfort food for dinner.
Q: How did you decide on the found-and-foraged concept?
A: This is one of the things we want to develop to honour the farmers we work with. We see their lives every day and they inspire us. It’s about using what is available around you. In this case, we are trying to use local ingredients that are not used all that much and what is available locally, rather than getting imported ingredients. We really wish we could go local completely. We use the produce from our own livestock farm, but the demands of tourism still force us to substitute imported ingredients.
Q: Tell us more about your relationship with the local farmers.
A: The farm we have in Jatiluwih is run and managed by local farmers. We supervise and educate them. It has been fun. We support each other. Now we have pigs and chickens in our farm. I hope in the near future we can develop the farm further with them.
Q: What makes Hujan Locale unique?
A: The design of the interior has a light and airy feel. The overall concept is to make you feel like you are in the countryside. You can see botanical ingredient prints on the plates, as well as the enamel plates that remind me of those used by farmers at their homes during my childhood in ‘70s and ‘80s. And of course the food itself, you’ll find some classic dishes like gentleman’s relish: homemade blood pudding and bread-and-butter pudding, which I used to have at home when I was a child.
Q: What do diners need to try when they visit Hujan Locale?
A: The wood-roasted bone marrow, the pork cutlets and the bread-and-butter pudding.
Q: Please share with us your most memorable Hujan Locale moment.
A: What I love about Balinese culture is that anyone can join in their religious ceremonies. Just before we opened Hujan, we had the blessing ceremony and I was sitting there with my mom, my wife and my children, also Wayan the owner of the restaurant and all the staff, including the Muslim and Christian ones. It was amazing!
Q: Now that you’re spending more time in Ubud, what have you discovered about the town?
A: Ubud is very small. Everybody knows everybody. There’s a bigger chunk of international market here compared to Seminyak. Hence, we created an Asian lunch menu, a Western dinner menu, as well as Spanish pizzas. So the restaurant has something for everybody—a little quirk you cannot find in other restaurants.
Q: What do you collect?
A: Cameras and applications, also gadgets.
Q: What is your all-time most memorable meal?
A: I’ll never forget the taste of the bats and rats I had in Sulawesi.
Q: What is your secret culinary weapon?
A: A griddle plate.
Q: What are you most proud of in your professional life?
A: The growth of my staff.
Q: What else is up your chef’s sleeve?
A: We are opening another Mama San in Kuala Lumpur this year and two more restaurants in Bali. I have a goal of growing the business until I’m 40—that’s one and a half years away. Then I will focus on working with farmers and growing the culture side of the food, together with the local as well as international communities.
Q: What is your favourite rainy-day activity?
A: Cooking at home with my children.