If you were brought up in Motor City (Detroit) during the 70s and 80s, there’s a fairly good chance you might have ended up in the automotive industry. Karma Kandara’s guest food consultant, Joseph Antonishek, was no exception. His original plan was to become an industrial designer and help turn out a new generation of cars for American motorists but in the end, he embraced another type of design.
A stint at the Culinary Institute of America learning his craft replaced engineering and within a few short years, Joseph was named as one of the “Best hotel chefs in America” by the prestigious James Beard Foundation. What followed was a peripatetic careers in the Big Apple and Los Angeles before he found his way to Asia and Bali which he now calls home.
Joseph’s arrival at Karma Kandara coincides with high-season and he’s looking forward to delivering hotel and restaurant guests an extraordinary culinary experience. Together with Chef De Cuisine, Octavio Denis Pereira Chamusca, the resort dining menu has been completely revamped with a strong focus on local produce.
According to Joseph, he brings a strong farm-to-table philosophy to his creations while Octavio’s background is in fine dining.
With a career behind the stoves at some of LA’s hottest hotel restaurants including at the Mondrian Hotel and Raffles L’Ermitage, Joseph has really found his place in Asia and Bali, “especially this property”.
Big love and big flavours
“I’ve always come to Karma Kandara and I’ve always loved this property. I love everything it stands for,” he says.
A big part of that love is the resort’s culinary offerings showcased in the signature restaurant di Mare and down at the Karma Beach Club. Both he and Octavio hope to create food experiences that have guests coming back every day to try something new.
“It’s all about simple ingredients prepared beautifully,” Octavio says. This is especially true down at the Beach Club where the heavily Greek-influenced menu is all about shared plates and comfort food while guests laze away sandy summer days.
Since first visiting Bali five years ago, Joseph says he has bounced around the region, but it’s Bali that holds something special.
“I love being here and prefer the pace of life here as opposed to LA or NY.”
As for his major culinary influences, food runs in the Antonishek family with Joseph’s great-grandfather a former President of the Michigan Restaurant Association who once ran food trucks around the state. More pertinently, Joseph’s classical training is now augmented with a real focus on melding the flavours and techniques of Asia.
Texture, colour and fresh local produce
A major component of Asian cooking is adding different textures to enhance the natural attributes of a dish.
“Interesting textures that might add some crunch to a dish or some silkiness where it’s needed. It’s all about enhancing and not taking away from the dish and its flavours.
“A chef I once worked with told me to look at food like a colour wheel. When you mix two primary colours, like when you mix blue and yellow together, you get green. Food is very much like that as well. Mix too many colours together and you get brown. Food is the same, too many flavours and you get bland,” Joseph says.
One particularly exciting aspect of the new menus which, will be showcasing a range of local produce, is the desserts. Joseph and Octavio are both looking forward to working with homegrown fruits such as mangosteens, dragonfruit, pomelo and even creating something interesting with durian.
“We’re going to be able to create desserts and utilise all the wonderful spices that grow naturally here as well. We’ll be able to make our own chocolate with local cocoa nibs. The vanilla comes from here also as does the nutmeg and cinnamon.”
Octavio agrees and looks forward to working with citrus fruits in the menus as well as continuing the laid back tradition of the Karma Beach Club.
“We’re creating something unique here. Local produce and Asian flavours with French techniques. For diners, it will be a memorable experience,” Octavio concludes.