David Gavin Appointed Head Chef at Sundara, Relaunches Menu Inspired by Jimbaran’s Beach Barbecue Culture at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
Iconic Sundara continues its refined evolution with the arrival of new Chef de Cuisine, Swedish-born David Gavin, who elevates the menu with umami-packed dishes that celebrate the unique and vibrant ingredients of Indonesia’s Spice Islands.
In delectable homage to Jimbaran Bay’s traditional coconut-husk barbecues, every dish is somehow touched by raw flame, whether via roasting, grilling or smoking. David’s creative use of local flavours and elegant presentation reflect his deep knowledge and love for Indonesia (where he met his wife), and his experience working with some of Bali’s best chefs during six years at renowned Mozaic Ubud. Mentored by Mozaic chef-owner Chris Salans, David perfected the art of marrying French techniques and presentation with micro-sourced and wild-sourced local ingredients.
A key lesson David has learned from Balinese chefs has been how to use spices from across the famed Indonesian archipelago. This approach is very different to that of the more staid European kitchens he has worked in. “Most dishes, if not all, have an Indonesian angle to them. So there are way more spices! Chefs here might use 20 different spices in a single dish. And everything they use is local: cinnamon, star anise, cloves, nutmeg, and so on," says David.
“The result is a more refined and locally-inspired dining experience,” says Liam Nealon, Executive Chef of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay. “It’s now got a stronger Bali connection as David's really passionate about local flavours and rare ingredients, and his cooking techniques bring out the best of each ingredient."
David and Liam both struggle to name just one favourite dish on the new Sundara menu, but featuring on each of their shortlists is the crispy baby pig, which comes with a chutney of snakefruit – rather than the usual apple you'd find on a Western menu – charred cabbage, confit garlic, and mustard jus. Says Liam, in somewhat hushed tones: "It has this crispy skin, and underneath this soft sweet pork that has been almost shredded then repacked together so it has a terrine feel to it. Then the sauce, and the pickle to cut through it — it ticks all the boxes!"
Another highlight both chefs recommend is the smoked Australian wagyu brisket served with fresh green peppercorns plucked from the hills of north Ubud and roasted local sweet potato. Seafood lovers might head for an appetizer of salmon cured in kelp, coming with an Indonesian sauce vierge, smoked avocado and fresh herbs, followed by a whole Jimbaran-style snapper-for-two with classic sambal matah, local lime, lemon basil, red rice and "morning glory" water spinach.
Devising this menu has allowed David to reap some of the rewards that come with working in Bali, such as the creative freedom to even design plates to match each dish, adding another bespoke element to the overall Sundara experience for diners. “In Bali, there are limitless possibilities on the creative front,” he says. ”That’s inspiring for me as a chef.”
Liam – who himself started as Chef de Cuisine at Sundara many moons ago and has returned to Jimbaran Bay after stints at Four Seasons Sayan and Thailand – is excited by David joining Sundara’s global culinary team. He’s working closely with Executive Pastry Chef David Peduzzi and local Jimbaran stalwarts Executive Sous Chef Made Adijaya and Sous Chef Angga Umaniasa.
"David (Peduzzi), Adijaya, Angga and I have all been with Four Seasons for a number of years, so David Gavin brings a new vibe to the team," Liam says. "We all get along really well, and we share the same vision of where we want to go: brightening and modernising as much as we can, and bringing an element of fun into the menu and offerings."
The menu’s relaxed yet sophisticated style matches the elegance of Sundara’s ambience and magical sunsets, from its perch above the beach at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay. Diners can sit alongside the open kitchen and watch the chefs at work, or opt for a beachfront table and soak up the spectacular views and sound of the waves on the shore. The restaurant’s two-storey design caters for all types of evenings, starting with sunset cocktails on the open-air terrace and continuing with date night or a gathering with family and friends in the chic dining room. Private dining rooms accommodate up to 20 people, and the entire Mezzanine level comes with a private balcony bar for events of up to 100 people.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay