Chef and Owner of HOME by Chef Wayan
I was able to get to my current station due to hard work, but also thanks to others’ teaching me, mentoring me, and helping me decide which doors to walk through.
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 in a small fishing village on Nusa Penida island, off the south-east coast of Bali. It was not my intention to become a professional cook. It wasn’t until I was 28 years-old and already married that I got 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 before me. There is always something more to learn from others. I had good mentors, a supportive partner, and I was crazy enough to follow the opportunities that led me here.
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 to 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?
I’m most proud of opening my own restaurant, HOME by Chef Wayan, and showcasing modern Indonesian cuisine and Balinese flavours. My cookbook with Co-Author Maya Kerthyasa, Paon: Real Balinese Cooking, was also published last year and it’s the first of its kind. So I guess you could say I’m most proud to teach people about Balinese culinary culture!
What impact have you made in Bali?
I hope I inspire young cooks in Bali and Indonesia to become experts in the field, and strive for top positions and business ownership 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 the future look like for you?
The future is exciting! We’ll spread the word about Balinese and Indonesian cuisine even further, through television and international events.
What do you love most about Bali?
The people, the culture, and the food, of course!
What's the best meal you've ever eaten, and why?
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 my village, Banjar Nyuh, 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 the village of Les in north Bali, sharing his traditional Balinese kitchen and cooking.