Chef Ben Harrington is the newly appointed Executive Chef of Mamaka by Ovolo. Chef Ben started his career in 2009 and hails from England. A passionate and diligent chef, with a strong foundation in professional culinary training, for Chef Ben, cooking is more than just a talent; it is a passion.
With the opening of a new concept, Kuta Social Club by Mamaka by Ovolo Bali, Chef Ben Harrington is ready to create and offer a more compelling dining experience to the latest rooftop restaurant & bar destination in Bali.
Please tell us a bit about yourself. How did you become a chef?
I was always interested in more active things – more hands-on – even when I was still in school, and I always knew that I would never be working in an office, but back then, I wasn’t sure I would be a chef.
I’ve done a lot of different kinds of work – an apprenticeship, I worked in construction, I worked with cars, but even though I enjoyed it, I don’t think those were my callings.
While I was at school, I worked in the kitchen as a student, washing dishes, pans, and pots on the weekend, and then I thought to give it a try on the kitchen; because I already have experience cooking in the kitchen, and I have seen how chefs worked, and I like the atmosphere.
I grew up outside of London, and there was a hotel opening at the same time as I was entering catering college. So ended up working on getting my diploma in cooking while also working at the newly launched Hotel.
When I first got into the kitchen, it just felt right. And now, 17 years later, I’m still cooking.
What is your favorite food memory?
When I was around 8 or 10, I always baked cakes with my mom on the weekends. Simple things like licking the spoon out of the cake mixture and spending time with my mom are lasting memories.
But, if we are talking about restaurants, one of the memorable experiences was when I went to Peru in Lima. I visited Central, the menu was about elevation, and the food was unbelievable! I was blown away; it’s the best food memory aside from making cakes with my mom.
How do you describe the type of cuisine you cook?
It is very Mediterranean-inspired, and the most important thing is that it has to be product-driven. Back in the UK, when I opened a hotel on the outskirts of London, I would explore the surrounding area, find talented people who have lovely local produce, and at the same time help them to create a name for themselves.
I think it is essential, especially when you can find good quality local produce and tasty, and I’m trying to do the same thing here. I’m looking forward to going out and meeting all the local producers and meeting all the small businesses here in Bali.
How do you want people to see your creations?
I just want people to enjoy it, and when the plate goes down at the table, people will go ‘wow,’ and you know it’s unprecedented. I’m not an overcomplicated cook; I like to make a few simple dishes with fun and quirky presentation, colorful, vibrant, and tasty. Yeah, I want people to look at it they would go, ‘oh, it looks tasty,’ and when they eat it, ‘wow, that’s tasty!’. I think that’s how I want people to perceive my creations.
Where and how do you find your inspiration for your creations?
It varies, from going out to a restaurant or simply seeing photos on Instagram. Or like when I was visiting the fish market at Jimbaran. It was an eye-opening experience. It was my third day here in Bali, and it was great; it is entirely different from what’s in the UK and was inspiring. It made my creative juices flow. After that, I returned, cooked dinner, and made different dishes. So, inspiration can be anything. Getting off the plane to Bali, a country with coconut, was also quite inspiring.
Have you had the chance to experiment since you got here?
I’ve done some bits and pieces since I’ve been here, using some ingredients I haven’t used before – which is excellent, trying some different things.
Can you tell us more about what you will do for Mamaka by Ovolo?
My role is to create the concept for Kuta Social Club. We have a fantastic open kitchen with a woodfire grilled clay oven, and we would like to bring more varieties. I’m adding a few different meat dishes. So, we will have a good fun variety of exciting new dishes.
Kuta Social Club
Mamaka by Ovolo
Jl. Pantai Kuta No.32, Legian, Kec. Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361