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Savoring Art De Vivre: Chef Mikael Robin Unveils Culinary Magic for Sofitel Bali's 10th Anniversary

Savoring the Art De Vivre: Chef Mikael Robin Unveils Culinary Magic for Sofitel Bali's 10th Anniversary

Accomplished culinary maestro Chef Mikael Robin takes the spotlight as the guest Executive Chef for Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Resort's prestigious 'Dasha' 10th Anniversary Celebration. With a stellar 35-year culinary journey, starting from his hometown in Brittany, French, to his current role at Sofitel Ambassador Seoul Hotel, South Korea, Mikael brings a wealth of expertise shaped across global culinary capitals. Set to showcase the French 'art de vivre' philosophy, his culinary magic promises a celebration of connection, global fusion, and the perfect balance of luxury and simplicity. In this exclusive interview, Chef Mikael unveils the influences of Bali on his culinary style and shares some delightful surprises at the upcoming milestone event.

Savoring Art De Vivre: Chef Mikael Robin Unveils Culinary Magic for Sofitel Bali's 10th Anniversary

Can you share a bit about your culinary journey and how your experiences have shaped your approach to cooking, especially as you take on the role of the guest Executive Chef for Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Resort's 'Dasha' 10th Anniversary Celebration?
Certainly! In my 35-year culinary journey, I began in my hometown of Brittany, France, cultivating a deep love for seafood. After honing my skills globally, I worked with prestigious hotels in Paris and served as a consultant chef during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, sparking my interest in Asia. A four-year stint in Jakarta marked my first long-term Asian engagement, where I embraced French cuisine at Emily French restaurant. While venturing to China, I contributed to the opening of five-star hotels, including the Sofitel Foshan Shunde. Now, as the Guest Executive Chef for Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Resort's 'Dasha' 10th Anniversary Celebration, I will blend French expertise with Balinese ingredients, aiming to showcase the union of culinary techniques and local flavors on this special occasion.

Bali is known for its rich culture and diverse cuisine. How has the island's unique culinary scene influenced your cooking style, and what are you most excited about bringing to the table for Sofitel Bali's special anniversary event?
Bali's vibrant culinary scene has profoundly influenced my cooking style, presenting a captivating array of unique flavors and ingredients distinct from my experiences in Seoul. Seoul is a cold-climated city, and the vegetables, fruits, and fish are totally different from Indonesia. The tropical abundance of warm-water fish and the sophistication of Indonesian sauces, particularly sambals, have been a thrilling discovery. I'm so excited about showcasing this rich culinary at Sofitel Bali's special anniversary event. One standout dish will be the 'beef cheek,' a French-style stew with a local twist, slow-cooked to tender perfection, reminiscent of the Indonesian rendang but with a very different spice profile.

Beyond the kitchen, what hobbies or interests do you have that contribute to your creativity and inspiration as a chef? How do you find balance between your professional and personal lives?

Beyond the kitchen, my interests play a crucial role in shaping my creativity as a chef. I have a deep passion for travel, exploring different cultures, and delving into the history behind local dishes. Visiting museums and reading about history not only enriches my personal life but also serves as a wellspring of inspiration for my culinary creations. Food is intricately tied to history, and understanding the stories behind dishes fuels my creativity in the kitchen. This lifestyle, where my personal pursuits seamlessly intertwine with my profession, contributes to a harmonious life-work balance. I find joy in simple weekend activities, like trying local cuisine or visiting historical sites, as they connect me to the environment and culture that influence my culinary journey. In essence, I think as a chef, I'm no different from a farmer, living in harmony with nature and seasons, embracing the environment, and deriving happiness from the interconnectedness of life.

What are your initial impressions of Bali, and how do you plan to incorporate the island's flavors and essence into Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Resort’s Anniversary Celebration menu?
My initial impressions of Bali are incredibly rich, especially in terms of its authentic and true flavors. In crafting the menu for Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Resort’s Anniversary Celebration, I plan to reflect this authenticity by staying true to the essence of each ingredient. Bali's cuisine is characterized by its genuine and sophisticated flavors, often found in its sauces. My approach is to preserve these flavors, allowing guests to experience the true essence of the ingredients. While I might introduce subtle hints of spice, such as working with seaweed for the fish dish, the primary goal is to let each element speak for itself. The philosophy behind the dishes is simple: what you see is what you taste, and what you taste is an honest representation of the ingredients at their best.

Chef Mikael Robin

Sofitel Bali's 'Dasha' 10th Anniversary is a significant milestone. Can you give us a sneak peek into the culinary delights you have in store for the event? Are there any signature dishes or innovative twists that guests can look forward to?

The 10th anniversary of Sofitel Bali holds immense significance for me, and I'm honored to be part of this milestone, given my history with Indonesia and Bali. Supporting Sofitel Bali and showcasing the essence of Sofitel as a global link is crucial. Sofitel’s global logo resembles a ‘link’ and we always try to link local culture, French culture,but also the world. One of the signature dishes for this celebration will be a classic French dessert, Savarin, named after the legendary French food critic and writer, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. In a nod to Brillat-Savarin's passion for food and my own love for food history, the dessert will blend the flavors of the island with Balinese rum, vanilla, star anise, local spices, lime, and fresh local passion fruit. The combination aims to create a dish that is exceptionally fresh, vibrant, and full of energy. To enhance the experience, I will personally serve the Savarin dessert to each table during the Dasha celebration, fostering interaction with the guests and aligning with Sofitel's emphasis on 'connection'.

In your culinary career, you've worked in various countries, each with its own culinary identity. How do you adapt to different cultural influences, and how will this adaptability play a role in your contribution to Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Resort's celebration?

Adapting to different cultural influences has always been a central aspect of my culinary journey. The key to this adaptation lies in connecting with people. Upon my arrival at Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Resort for the celebration, the immediate focus was on sharing experiences with the resort's culinary team, regardless of cultural differences. Whether from Bali, America, or any other part of the world, the common ground is found in the kitchen, where skilled and experienced individuals collaborate with young, curious minds. Embracing the local culture is essential for successful adaptation, and in Bali, the warmth and openness of the people make this process even more delightful. Understanding and appreciating the local culture is important, and my familiarity with Bali from previous visits ten years ago as a guest has facilitated a smoother integration into the culinary scene for the Dasha celebration. Ultimately, the beauty of our profession lies not just in sharing culinary creations with customers but also in bringing together a sense of unity and collaboration within our diverse team. In moments of challenge, taking a step back, breathing, and focusing on what truly matters helps maintain perspective. For me, the heart of successful adaptation is the emphasis on people and shared experiences.

As a chef with an impressive international background, including currently at Sofitel Ambassador Seoul Hotel & Serviced Residences, what advice do you have for aspiring chefs looking to make their mark in the culinary world?

For aspiring young chefs venturing into the culinary world, my advice is to stay curious and be patient. Obviously, when it comes to becoming a chef, it takes time to develop skills. It takes time to grow, not only in the culinary world but in any other professional career. Learn from people who love their job; surround yourself with mentors and leaders who genuinely love what they do, as their passion will inspire and guide your journey. Be patient, recognizing that expertise takes time to develop; there's no need to rush to the top or to gain any title. What is important is to know how to do things right. Be curious, and understand that you have time. Remember that skills, like in any profession, require dedicated time and practice.

The 'Dasha' 10th Anniversary event is a celebration of Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Resort's journey. What aspect of your culinary expertise and personal touch do you hope will leave a lasting impression on the guests attending this special occasion?

For the 'Dasha' 10th Anniversary event at Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Resort, my intent is to deeply resonate with the French 'art de vivre' (art of living) philosophy, emphasizing the joy of sharing and hospitality. The core of Sofitel's approach aligns seamlessly with this philosophy, and I aspire to bring this spirit to life for both guests and staff. Central to the French lifestyle is the idea of sharing a culinary experience as a celebration of life's simple pleasures. Balancing luxury with an easy-going nature, I aim to convey the happiness inherent in both French and Balinese cultures through the act of sharing a meticulously crafted meal. This celebration goes beyond just showcasing French cuisine; it embodies the sophistication, savoir-faire, and vibrant mix found in Paris—a true representation of the 'art de vivre.' By introducing diverse influences, including a touch of Korean cuisine with a Korean chef joining me from Seoul, the event becomes a fusion of cultures, encapsulating the spirit'art de vivre' philosophy brought to life in the enchanting setting of Bali.