Time for A BIG CHANGE

This month, Alila Villas Uluwatu unveils QUILA, their new dining venue helmed by executive chef Marc Lorés Panadés.

This month, Alila Villas Uluwatu unveils QUILA, their new dining venue helmed by executive chef Marc Lorés Panadés.

I WILL HAVE TO go out on a limb here, and say that Alila Villas Uluwatu is one of my most favorite resorts in the world. It’s stunning views, impeccable service, great food and the iconic sunset cabana all make for an amazing stay.  Thus it was with a certain level of excitement that I came for a sneak peek of their new dining venue. Christened Quila, which combines qui, which stands for ‘he who transforms’, with Alila, and aptly reflects the transformative dining experience presented within its exclusive setting.

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Diners are taken on a multi-sensory gastronomic journey by executive chef Marc Lorés Panadés. Set in the resort’s former wine room, guests should expect a culinary thrill as the meal not only tickles your palate but also coaxes reactions from your other senses. For one of the courses, we were asked to be blindfolded, thus encouraging us to explore the upcoming dish with heightened smell and hearing. Each plate is perfectly sized to deliver a powerful flavor punch, a witty bite, or a provocative shot of surprise. Not your typical mundane degustation menu.

Reflecting Chef Marc’s philosophy of “getting to the root of every single product, by getting as local, organic and sustainable as possible”, the menu of mainly Mediterranean-inspired creations combines fresh seasonal and local produce with modern cooking techniques, styled in uniquely different and playful ways. The imaginative use of sound, texture and aroma add other dimensions of sensory stimulation, along with carefully chosen wine pairings that elevate the sense of refinement.

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Marc started noticing food at an early age, his earliest food memories are of amazing pasta dishes from both his grandmothers. Penne with tomato and cheese, chicken and gratin cheese and even a crab soup from his mom during Christmas time. As a kid, he also remembers Sunday gatherings with all of his cousin at their grandparents’ house, eating artisan fondant chocolate from their village with brioche.

Marc’s culinary career began at hospitality school in his home city of Lleida in Spain. After spending three years in university, he was fed up, and had no motivation to continue. Then hospitality school was a chance that came up. “At that point, I wasn’t really into food, but due to my curiosity, I wanted to know how the magic started, so I began learning by myself and became more and more willing to learn this art,” Marc reveals.

This was the start of a journey that has taken him to many parts of Europe, to Hong Kong, and back home again, and honed his skills in Spanish tapas and Mediterranean cuisine, as well as exposing him to the exotic flavors of Asia.

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In 2011 Marc became head chef at Cal Xirriclo in Lleida, a modern fine dining Mediterranean restaurant, where local and organic produce were highlighted using modern cooking techniques. It was here that Marc received the first of many prestigious awards, winning first prize in the Creative Cuisine’s Madrid Fusion in 2012 for Best Dish and Best Pairing, and then again, in 2016 for Best Dessert with his now signature mushroom-shaped meringue.

Marc also spent time in Hong Kong to work for the Aqua group as executive chef of a French bistro and a Spanish tapas bar. He subsequently returned to the helm at Cal Xirriclo, during which he also shared his passion for food by teaching fusion food classes, appearing on local TV cooking shows, and writing a food blog for the local newspaper.

During his time in Hong Kong, Marc made a visit to Bali, so the opportunity to become part of the Alila Villas Uluwatu team proved irresistible.

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Marc is eager to launch Quila and looks forward to sharing this exciting dining experience to his guests. I ask about his creative process when making dishes. “It really depends. I draw inspiration from books, restaurants, the internet and past experiences. There’s really no one process. Daily work makes the ideas come up, and of course it’s really important to eat outside, share with others, read a lot, get updated. Try, try and try. You can never know when one nice idea can come up. Sometimes, on my way back home riding the bike, I stop to write some ideas down.”

Being in Bali allows Marc to cook with many Asian flavors that he really loves, including kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal and mangosteen. “I do also love cooking with vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli and also seaweed and mushrooms. In Catalonia we love mushrooms, all kind of edibles mushrooms,” Marc shares.

For Quila, Marc draws on his love for the fresh, radiant flavors of the Mediterranean and the spicy-sweet-sour-bitter punch of flavors unique to Asian cuisine. Fresh local and organic produce remain the stars of each dish, celebrated in all their authenticity, infused with creativity to deliver delicious moments of surprise.

With the dishes I have tried, I am sure Quila will be the island’s new dining destination. Embrace your sense of adventure, surrender to the unexpected, savor the surprise.

QUILA
Alila Villas Uluwatu
Jalan Belimbing Sari, Banjar Tembiyak
 Desa, Pecatu, Bali
T: +62 361 848 2166
Instagram: @alilavillasuluwatu
www.alilahotels.com/uluwatu


Written by Jed Doble Photographs by AKI November 7, 2016.

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