Saturday 23 April 2016

Tuning up Cuca

One of our philosophies is to make Cuca just a little bit better every single day: either by tweaking our recipes, training our team on something new, planting a tree or simply finding amazing hand soap. The small things make a big difference. This year we feel particularly proud of these tiny details that make us better:

- Rainy season is wet and sitting in our beautiful garden lounge is not advised for a good part of the year as unexpectedly you can get caught in a tropical storm. The addition of a canopy covering the side of Cuca has now made outdoor dining possible year round with the bonus of blocking the hot sun during the day.

- Bali is hot, that’s why people come from all over the world to the beautiful island, but keeping our dining room comfortably cool has been quite a challenge we have had since opening. Our latest addition of 6 serious ceiling fans and a few more air-con units seems to have finally done the trick.

Acoustic panels in our ceiling
- If you have ever been to Cuca when we are fortunate to have a few groups of excited diners you know that it can be noisy, very noisy. The “smart” idea of using hard materials for the floor and large glass windows instead of walls was great in theory but a nightmare in reality. After 2 years of thought and numerous (and often ridiculous) suggestions, we have hidden funky acoustic ceiling panels above every table to eliminate that noise. And what a difference they make!

- When it rains it pours and after it pours our parking lot becomes a lovely lake requiring a boat to access our main door. Arriving hungry, soaking wet and without a paddle was not the best beginning, so we have added concrete to elevate the parking, garden lights, landscaping and even lines to park your car in between. For those who had to swim to Cuca for food we do apologize, it is all sorted now.

Our brand-new online booking system
- Our website was let’s just say “understated” and served its purpose until now but we were (as you were) aware of its much needed makeover. Packed with photos and really capturing what Cuca is today, our new website in now in place.

- Making a reservation in Cuca was always done by people. Our staff would painstakingly reply to each and every request and ensure all bookings were handled manually like in the 1940’s: yup, a paper book with all the guests’ details hand-written with their specific remarks. It worked well, with a real touch of classic hospitality, but as Cuca got busier, to maintain the system was a nightmare. So we have finally progressed with the times and have now an online booking system that does not compromise the genuine hospitality of Cuca but does help with all the paper, pencils and post-its.

With problems come solutions and for now we have caught up but tomorrow the question remains: what can we do to get just a little bit better yet?

Friday 25 March 2016

Kevin Cherkas on Madrid Fusion Manila 2016

When a few months ago we received a call from the organizers of Madrid Fusion inviting Kevin to participate in their Asian edition, we could not help from jumping up and down. Kevin participated in Madrid Fusion in Spain back in 2011 but to do so again, this time in Asia and representing Cuca, meant the world to us.

This is the first time that a restaurant from Indonesia has been selected so we are taking this opportunity very seriously and are both honored and determined to rock Manila with our presentation “Once upon a product…”. Kevin shares here some of his thoughts about what to expect.

What are you going to present?
We will be taking the audience through the magical experience of tasting something for the first time. An interesting perspective to see new ideas everywhere just by looking at food differently. This will be done in 3 ways: the first is bringing the audience back to 1776, when the Manila Galleons were transporting fascinating products from one side of the world to the other. Imagine an entire ship of new ingredients! The second way is through a modern fairy tale where I tell the story of how I arrived to Bali, discovered a new world of ingredients and began creating Cuca. My presentation will end with a series of demonstration recreating some of the dishes that have made Cuca famous.

What do you look forward to at Madrid Fusion Manila?
The excitement of the event and concentration of such amazing professionals who lead this industry with hard work, creativity and passion. Being selected among them is a huge honor.  

What do you hope to accomplish with your presentation at MFM2016?
To convey my passion for a job I absolutely adore and provide a relevant insight to the audience through a dramatic and entertaining presentation.

What are your impressions of the Philippines?
Love it! We have been to Manila before and we are still raving about how good were the traditional dishes we tried (kinilaw, lechon, sinigang). No better reason to go back than to be a part of the biggest food event of the year, I’m sure we won’t go hungry!

Do you have a message for people who will attend MFM2016?
Get ready, you have never seen anything quite like this!

Thursday 25 February 2016

Five things you didn't know about Cuca

1. We didn’t cut any trees
The entire shape of the restaurant was designed from scratch to fit perfectly between the many 80 year old trees avoiding having to cut a single branch. We not only have coconuts but also the most delicious organic mangoes that are quickly eaten by our team (and the lucky guests who spot them) when in season.

2. Our gardener’s name is “Tri”
How could you not hire him? Talk about being suited for the position. Cuca’s garden is huge, really huge. We were told when we opened that we would need five guys to do the job. We have one, his name is Tri, he does the job of all five and gets it done in his 7 hour shift. 

3. Our bestseller item is "BBQ Octopus"
Who would have guessed? Before we opened, we were told that in Indonesia people don’t like octopus… Ironically it is now our bestseller… We have sold more than 12,000 portions! The octopus comes from Jimbaran Bay, just 15 minutes from the restaurant, so it doesn’t get any fresher than that. Just goes to show you that anything done well has a fighting chance.

4. We make everything from scratch
We have one very simple philosophy in Cuca: “if we serve it, we make it”. That goes for everything. No store-bought nothing! Just like at grandma’s house, we are really cooking. It is no surprise that fresh food tastes better.

5. We have many staff
Seventy. It’s hard to believe but when you count them all, we got seventy. From engineering keeping us going, bar tenders keeping your thirst quenched, cooks (you guessed it) cooking, service smiling and anticipating what you really need, office making sure your reservation is the most important thing in the world and management keeping the boat in the right direction. We couldn’t imagine being without a single one of them.