A Spotlight On Nusa Penida At Home By Chef Wayan

Chef Wayan has travelled the world, Home By Chef Wayan calls on inspiration from his home in Nusa Penida.

Home by Chef Wayan is a simple, home-style warung, in Pereranan, Canggu that serves delicious dishes inspired by Childhood memories.

One of Bali’s best chefs combines his skills as a fine-dining chef with his love of Balinese food at his eponymous warung in Canggu. Former culinary Director of Potato Head, the pandemic saw him searching for something simpler, writing a cookbook and coming home to recipes that mean everything to him. 

Growing up in Nusa Penida, Chef Wayan was obsessed with fire. Worried he’d burn down the house his mother encouraged him to help her in the kitchen, where all the cooking was done on a simple wood-fired stove.

Growing up in Nusa Penida, meat was rarely on the menu. In his early days, rice was also rare so the diet was based on starchy vegetables like cassava and corn that could grow on the arid island, and seafood, which was plentiful. To this day Wayan loves taking his fishing boat out and seafood is his favourite food to eat and cook with.

Fast forward and Chef Wayan makes a move to the US and a job at Blue Hill Farms in upstate New York, which opened up a world of possibilities for the Balinese chef. “It was a real farm-to-table experience. We’d pick the produce in the morning and then meet to plan the menu. It inspired everything I have done until now. I still plan my menus around what produce I have on hand,” explains Chef Wayan. 

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Heading back from the USA, Wayan helped set up Room4Dessert with Chef Will Goldfarb before heading to Potato Head Beach Club where he rose to Culinary Director, creating incredible dining experiences at restaurants like Ijen, their zero-waste seafood diner, and Kaum, an Indonesian dining experience and finally Tanaman, Bali’s first high-end vegan concept restaurant. 

At the time, Chef Wayan and his colleagues had minimal experience with vegan cooking, so their concept was to recreate plant-based versions of classic Indonesian dishes, it was brilliant. “We didn’t have any real experience with creating plant-based menus, but we figured out that it all comes down to flavour. Once we had the flavour bases nailed, the rest was easy,” he tells us.

Home, his first stand-alone restaurant, is closer to his heart. As he heads to the US to promote his first cookbook, Paon, inspired by authentic Balinese cooking, he has numerous invites from leading restaurants around the world to share the food of his home.

There are some delicious expressions of dishes inspired by his childhood memories on the menu at Home by Chef Wayan, including a brilliant braised lettuce with tempe crumble and a tamarind and palm sugar vinaigrette and a creamy potato risotto with baby calamari. Both are eye-opening dishes with the most wonderful textures. Crispy kampung chicken wings come with a rica rica aioli, a local spice, while a crisp-skinned chicken leg curry has the most delicate flavours, it’s a dish you’d be happy to order in a high-end restaurant. Here the price tag is less than 100K.

“I’m very proud to be Balinese and the food of our island should be shared with the world, it is one of the great cuisines in my opinion,” Chef Wayan. 

One thing you notice on the menu, is the drinks and it turns out, besides the 3 recent graduates he cooks alongside in his kitchen, his beverage manager, Angling is equally creative. After four years behind the bar at Room4Dessert, he has taken his cocktail knowledge and created juice blends, smoothies and infusions based on cocktail recipes.

There are a lot of temptations on the drinks menu, but Bloody Bloody attracted my attention – a blend of fresh tomato, strawberries, and ginger. It sounded so strange I had to try it, expecting it to be awful, but it was fresh and fabulous and so well-balanced you could hardly pick a single ingredient. It might be my new favourite juice, and healthy as a bonus.

There are many reasons I will head back to Home by Chef Wayan. It is an experience all food (and drink) lovers should try at least once, and for those curious about local food, this is a chance to see it elevated in a way by a chef who combines a wealth of international experience with home-style authenticity.

Home by Chef Wayan is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, closed Tuesday.

Review by Sarah Dougherty.