Four Seasons Cooking Academy Bali

Bali lovers, take note – even after your holiday has ended, you can bring the authentic flavours of Indonesia home with you thanks to the Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy.

Located in its own stand-alone building at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, this cooking school offers a fantastic hands-on experience. After just one morning here, you’ll be able to create a delicious paradise for friends and family back in your own kitchen.

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The Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy gives you the chance to discover the techniques and ingredients of Indonesian cuisine. Recipes by the resort’s chefs, who come from various regions across Indonesia, and most are hand-me-downs from family members.

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Our day starts with a morning tour of the Jimbaran Fish Market led by Chris Anak Agung Kristya Yudha, Jimbaran’s Senior Chef de Partie. From a stall out the front, where locals will scale and cook fish purchased from the market for you, the smell of Indonesian spices wafts through the street. On offer when I visit are two ways of cooking the fish, spicy (with chilli and garlic) and non spicy (with turmeric and garlic).

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Jimbaran Fish Market is an enticing display of organised chaos and the biggest fish market in Bali (open from 7am-7pm). Here, you’ll find people in every nook and cranny delivering, buying, selling, cutting and weighing seafood, as well as store owners sitting among it all having their breakfast.

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Yudha gives me a quick lesson on tuna, as it’s the first thing we see when entering. Bluefin (the best quality tuna you can get) and yellowfin tuna weighing 25kg and under stay in Bali, but if they weigh more than 25kg, they go straight to Japan for sashimi.

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The Balinese cook once a day, making enough to last for lunch and dinner. Since there is generally no refrigeration available, the food will hang in baskets. As cooking is part of the Balinese culture, most men know how to slice and chop but only five per cent know how to combine it with marination. I learn that if a man cannot make a good ball of mince, he is not ready for marriage!

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The general markets are located next door and here you will find anything from vegetables, clothes, toys and spices to one of my favourite fruits, mangosteen.

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After the Jimbaran Fish Markets, everyone meets by the kitchen at the Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy to create a five-course traditional meal. I learn that Yudha has adjusted the menu slightly to include mahi mahi and chicken mince on lemongrass sticks. (Yudha’s attention to detail is incredible. It was following a comment I made earlier in the morning, saying I loved mahi mahi and food on lemongrass sticks, that he adjusted the menu.)

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In just four hours under Yudha’s guiding hand, we made the following:

Tum be siap – minced chicken wrapped in banana leaf – and a special version of chicken mince on lemongrass sticks;

Pepes ikan kakap – grilled red snapper wrapped in banana leaf (Yudha replaced the snapper with mahi mahi);

Lawar kacang panjang – tossed long beans with spicy grated coconut;

Sambal matah – spicy lemongrass shallot relish;

Kue labu – Balinese sweet pumpkin.

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Cooking classes are a fun way to interact with your family and hotel guests, even offering kids’ pastry classes once a week. Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy features a courtyard and herb garden where you will find fresh pickings such as cinnamon, basil and chilli, to name a few.

Classes are in English and open to a maximum of 8 participants. Non-resort guests are welcome to attend, and all participants receive an official certificate, as well as copies of the recipes in a beautiful booklet.

Five-minute Q&A with:

Chris Anak Agung Kristya Yudha, Senior Chef de Partie – Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay

Favourite dish?

Suckling pig, known as Babi guling, which is one of Bali’s most famous dishes. The pig is stuffed and infused with a spicy concoction including turmeric, coriander seeds, lemongrass, black pepper and garlic, and traditionally spit-roasted.

Favourite food destination?

Gianyar Night Market on the island of Gianyar Regency – they have so many authentic Balinese dishes here.

Favourite travel destination?

Again, I’m choosing somewhere local that satisfies my passion for food. Bedugul is my favourite place, not just because it is cheap and close, but also because it has an organic plantation where we can pick our own produce.

Most popular dish at Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay?

Jimbaran Style King Prawns at the Sundara restaurant.

I never travel without …

Sambal matah (spicy lemongrass shallot relish – the one made in today’s cooking class). It is a famous raw Sambal (condiment) that will make any Balinese homesick.

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