5 Cooking Classes to try in Bali

Mon, 16/05/2016 - 10:00am
Read Time: 2.5 mins

Traditional Balinese food shares much in common with Indonesian cuisine, but with tastes, ingredients and dishes all of its own. Get to know the real flavours of Bali at one of these great cooking schools.

Chef Dean, left, with students at the Dean Fisher Cooking School. Photo: deanfisherbali.com Chef Dean, left, with students at the Dean Fisher Cooking School. Photo: deanfisherbali.com

 

Dean Fisher Cooking School, Seminyak

Cooking has taken British chef Dean Fisher all over the world, from Cornwall to Perth to Singapore, but Bali is where he's made his home. Since 2012 Dean been operating his cooking school out of the ground floor of his expansive home in Sanur, on Bali's east coast. Following a breakfast-time pickup in Seminyak, the class stops by Denpasar market for provisions and coffee, before heading to the kitchen for a combination hands-on cookery class and Balinese history lesson – Dean is passionate about local spices and their historical uses. Refreshments, including beers, fresh fruit juices and mojitos, are served throughout the day.

Anika Cooking Class. Photo: anikacookingclass.com Anika Cooking Class. Photo: anikacookingclass.com

 

Anika Cooking Class, Kuta

If you're staying in Kuta and don't want to travel far to your cooking class, Anika is a good option. As at most schools, the daytime class starts with a market visit, then back to the school for a mid-morning snack (in Anika's case, traditional Balinese cakes). Then to work: you'll help prepare one of three menus, each comprising 10 dishes - nasi goreng, chicken satay and fish curry, to name but a few. The school is decorated in traditional style and all preparations are using authentic utensils, which means grinding spices in a pestle and mortar, not a food processor – but that's all part of the fun.

Lobong Culinary Experience, Ubud

The unique selling point at Lobong? Family. This acclaimed cooking school is run by Sang Made and his brother Dewa, who has cheffed at 5 star restaurants across Bali. Their mother bustles around in the background, making sure the classes, held at the family compound outside Ubud, run smoothly. Sang and Dewa speak excellent English and the class, including the obligatory morning market visit, is informative and fun. Lobong is one of the smaller culinary schools in Ubud, which means more intimate classes (12 people max) but also fewer menu options; unlike some schools, the dishes on offer are the same whichever day you attend.

Chef Penny Williams and students at Bali Asli. Photo: baliasli.com.au Chef Penny Williams and students at Bali Asli. Photo: baliasli.com.au

 

Bali Asli, Karangasem

Looking for a more unusual culinary experience than the standard market visit + cooking class? Bali Asli is the solution. The luxurious restaurant and cooking school in Karangasem, East Bali, is owned and led by Australian chef Penny Williams, who trained in London under Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White and has lived in Bali for almost a decade. Before the class, participants take part in a culinary adventure themed around “a day in the life” of a different Balinese local. A Day in the Life of a Fisherman includes a trip aboard a traditional jukung outrigger fishing boat; A Day in the Life of a Villager features a palm wine-making demonstration and the chance to try your hand at harvesting rice.

A traditional cookery demonstration at Bumbu Bali in Nusa Dua. Photo: bumbufoods.com A traditional cookery demonstration at Bumbu Bali in Nusa Dua. Photo: bumbufoods.com

 

Bumbu Bali, Nusa Dua

One of the most popular restaurants in the upmarket Nusa Dua tourist district, Bumbu Bali is also home to a long-running and well respected cooking school. You'll need to be an early riser for this class – pick up is from 6am – but the dawn kick-off means there's time for two market visits and a breakfast of Balinese cakes, fruit and sweet dumplings, all before class starts at 9.45am. Most lessons are led by chef Heinz von Holzen, the author of five cookbooks on Indonesian and Balinese food.

Catherine McGregor

Catherine McGregor is the deputy editor of The Spinoff and a travel writer with a too-long travel wish list including Jordan, Mexico, Croatia and Taiwan.