Executive chef at Desa Potato Head
I feel proud of what we do here, whether it is our heritage or our modern culinary innovation - it doesn’t matter which, it is all Indonesian pride.
Tell us your story – how did you get here?
My name is Wayan Kresna Yasa, but most people call me Wayan or Chef Wayan. I was born and raised on the small island of Nusa Penida off the south-east coast of Bali. It was not my intention to become a professional cook, until I had the opportunity to study at a culinary school in the U.S. and train in professional kitchens. I trained and worked in the U.S. for six years, cooking at fine dining, Michelin-rated kitchens, like Acadia in Chicago and New York’s Blue Hill Stone Barns. In Bali, I helped launch Room4Dessert with chef-owner Will Goldfarb, before transitioning to the culinary team at Desa Potato Head.
As for how I got to where I am today? Hard work, commitment and sacrifice. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true that nothing came easily, and it was also the commitment and sacrifice of my family that helped me get here. Nobody advances in a vacuum, we all hold each other’s feet to the fire so to speak. It’s a team effort and I take that seriously. I listened to the guidance of my mentors and others who came up before me. There is always something more to learn from others.
Also, relationship building is very important in this industry. You never know what doors will open, or when, or where, or who has their hand on the door handle! I try my best to be a trusted colleague, a helpful collaborator, and follow through on my promises. Reputation can carry you far, as long as you show up for people and earn their trust. So, I would say I was able to get to my current station due in part to my hard work, but also thanks to others’ teaching me, mentoring me, and helping me decide which doors to walk through.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My cookbook, Paon: Real Balinese Cooking, which will be released internationally this year. Through this, I am extremely proud to shine a light on Bali’s culinary heritage. I’m proud to showcase the food we have here in Indonesia, in the cookbook and through my many menus at Potato Head. I feel proud of what we do here, whether it is our heritage or our modern culinary innovation – it doesn’t matter which, it is all Indonesian pride.
What impact have you made in Bali?
I hope my time at Potato Head has inspired many young cooks in Bali and Indonesia to become experts in the field and strive for top positions in the industry, if that’s what they want to do. Outside of the kitchen, I hope I have impacted diners to eat responsibly and support sustainable food chain systems in their private homes or businesses.
What does 2022 look like for you?
2022 is going to be a great year. My wife and I have just opened HOME by Chef Wayan, our first family-owned restaurant in Pererenan, Bali. And my cookbook, Paon: Real Balinese Cooking, will be released by Hardie Grant Books in May this year – you can pre-order yours here.
What do you love most about Bali?
Family, friends, the culture, and the food, of course!
If you could choose your last ever meal, what would it be?
I always love my mum’s cooking, she understands what I like to eat and what brings me comfort. I’ll take anything Mum cooks me at her home in the village in Nusa Penida. It will most likely be a dish with fresh seafood!
Who is your Local Legend and why?
From a culinary perspective, Chef Jero Yudhi is a Local Legend. Chef Yudhi is a culinary hero in Bali, always welcoming people to his home in Les village in north Bali and sharing his traditional Balinese kitchen and cooking.