Thursday 9 May 2013

Caught on camera

Among the hundreds of things we have in our hands right now, we are slowly but steadily filming the making of Cuca. This won’t simply be a video about the steps we are taking to build our restaurant but will actually tell the heartfelt stories of the wonderful people we found along the way, what took them to the island of the gods and why they love what they do. Through their smiles we want you to see with your own eyes how special is every item we have handpicked for Cuca and how much care and thought is put behind each of them.

Kevin explaining how special our plates are

Raymond filming in full wing!
Pak Kicuk helping us with the
time-lapse camera as it must be
reset every day. 
We have traveled all around the island to film the locations where our veggies are grown, where our salt is extracted, where our wood furniture is sanded, where our fish is caught… We have also captured the skillful hand making of our plates, the engraving of our cutlery, the weaving of our furniture… We have interviewed the individuals who listened attentively to our ideas, shared with us their priceless knowledge and helped us to make this dream come true.

Also we are producing a time-lapse video of Cuca’s actual construction. A camera has been set in front of the site to take photos every 3 seconds so we can show you in only a few minutes how Cuca has grown from a mere seed in a coconut grove to the building we sketched what seems ages ago.

Although the documentary will only be completed after Cuca is finished, we are preparing a teaser that hopefully will touch your heart. It is just a week away, so keep your eyes open!

Saturday 4 May 2013

Cuca Kitchen: a dream come true

After years of working in all kinds of kitchens using all types of equipment, Kevin had the opportunity to design his own dream kitchen. The process has been painstaking, being forced to take on step back for every three steps forward and learning as we progress but we are almost there. All the key equipment has arrived and installation starts next week.

Equipment patiently waiting at our supplier's warehouse
Salamander broiler waiting for action
Since we don’t have real photos to show you yet, we are sharing with you the floor plans. They are supposed to be confidential, but we cannot wait any longer and after months following us in this blog, you are already part of Cuca family and deserve access to this piece of juicy information that is one of the main reasons why we believe Cuca will be one heck of a restaurant.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the one and only Cuca kitchen!

1. Main finishing kitchen: it is an open kitchen that allows guests to see what is going on from two sides. All equipment is waist-high so the view of the cooks and their craftsmanship is uninterrupted. It is a “show kitchen” because its only purpose is to finish dishes. Butchering, cleaning and all other messy jobs are done somewhere else. The magic of this area is its flexibility, its tidiness and its functionality.

Built around two islands with equipment accessible from all sides, it allows cooks to move freely from station to station. Every single piece of equipment has been chosen taking into account Cuca’s menu. These machines will ensure that the process of making our dishes is highly accurate and consistent.

Another key feature in our kitchen is the vast amount of chillers we have ordered… they will be crucial to ensure sanitation, cleanliness and an outstanding organization.

2. Hot pass: it is separated from the dining room only by a glass window so guests can witness the magic of putting together all the components to build up the final dish. It is strategically located so the Chef can access any of the stations if required.

3. Food bar: it allows a theatrical view into the kitchen and the lucky guests sitting here will be directly served by our cooks. Heat will not be a problem, we have taken care of it!

4. Back of the house: divided in an area for butchering, bulk preparation and cleaning and another one for dish washing. This space is key as it keeps ingredients away from the heat of the kitchen and prevents flavors from mixing. A chocolate mousse will never taste like garlic as it is prepared in an entirely different room.

5. Dry-store: usually inexistent in restaurants, it allows us to keep non-perishables at a controlled temperature and in perfect order. Inventory control is going to be a piece of cake! Next to it, you can see in the drawing a room for all the gas tanks. As you may already know, we had to change all our equipment to gas due to the high cost of electricity in Bali.

6. Receiving area: the place where all items received will be checked before being stored. Kevin has more ambitious plans for this corner in the future. It will probably become the cold kitchen for pastry.

7 & 8. Walk-in chiller and freezer: it is the Chef’s version of any girl’s dream walk-in closet!!! A refrigerated cube where you can uncompromisingly keep all items from the moment of receiving them without having to cram them in a small space. It also allows to purchase whole pieces of meat or fish and then cut them exactly as we want. Extremely useful for functions and priceless when obsessed with sanitation.

Hopefully after reading all these details you agree with us that this is going to be a magical kitchen for both staff and guests. In the next few weeks we will see this dream unraveling piece by piece. Literally.

Thursday 25 April 2013

East meets West

In case you don’t know it yet, let me break the news: Cuca will exclusively use local products. No, we are not planning to cook Indonesian food, we have simply spent enough time on this island to understand that Indonesia has truly amazing products that we can be served in Cuca within hours of being ordered. We want to offer food that starts from freshness and pure flavor and a simple look at the traditional markets that surround us pointed us in this brave direction. Why brave? Because Kevin is quite an amateur when dealing with products like snakeskin fruit, mangosteen, kencur, rambutan, soursop, fresh seaweed, nutmeg fruit, fresh coconut and many many more I will slowly introduce you to (or if you know them, you may find interesting to read what we do with them). 

A mangosteen
More challenges we face adopting this philosophy? No butter, wine, cheese, olive oil, liqueurs, winter anything, berries, etc, etc. 

The opportunities? Many, among which to be “forced” to discover a huge range of unique ingredients truly inspirational that work amazingly well when Kevin adds his skillful western approach and develops entirely new dishes. 

And if that is not enough, the biggest recompense is the reaction of the locals (used to western chefs proud of importing absolutely everything) when we tell them we only use Indonesian ingredients: they look surprised, then they silently reflect and finally sincerely say: “Huh, thank you”. And all our efforts are instantly rewarded.