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Chef Dane Fernandes takes ‘Eat Well’ to a new level

Chef Dane Fernandes takes ‘Eat Well’ to a new level

Sheila Manalac
01 April 2024

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The new executive chef of The Westin Resort Nusa Dua Bali, Dane Fernandes, holds the key to getting the Resort’s dining to new heights

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Times have changed, and eating healthy has become the norm for health-conscious travelers and foodies. For Chef Dane Fernandes, the new executive Chef of The Westin Resort Nusa Dua Bali, guests are achievers of excellence in their lives. When it comes to food, Chef Dane aims to ‘upgrade’ the food and beverage experience of guests, to exceed expectations, and to become the primary culinary destination on the Island. 

“With my experience, I may hold the key to upgrading what we have to become the most talked about F&B destination.” Leading a team of highly skilled chefs and F&B professionals, he can bring his skills, exposure, and experience, to maintain excellence in all eight restaurants, as well as the in-room services of the resort. 

Working with the 6 Pillars of well being that Westin is known for, Chef Dane spearheads the  Eat Well aspect of the program, making sure that the F&B department is aligned with the mission of the resort to provide well-being and healthy options for avid travelers. 

“The Eat Well menus and recipes are well thought of and have been carefully put together,” he said. Gone are the days when people thought healthy eating means compromising taste, with the availability of ingredients, skills, and exposure most chefs have. “The taste never gets compromised. Eat Well signature menus are discussed and understood by Westin chefs throughout, with ingredients and presentation in mind. We cannot go wrong on this.”

With his experience, coming from a family of farmers, he is not new to having fresh produce and sourcing local ingredients. “I have learned to respect the ingredients as a chef because I grew up in nature. Nature has a big part and influence in food, so I make sure to bring out the best in the ingredients I use.” 

He started his career in the kitchen early on, working for one of the most prestigious hotels in India, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which was built in 1903. At the young age of 19, he was part of a training team that was serving massive banquets with over 2000 guests. However, Chef Dane did not intend to be a part of banquets and events when he started his career–he was supposed to be in a Japanese restaurant. But somehow, fate interfered. As he was working in the hotel, the infamous 2008 attack happened–yes, from the movie “Hotel Mumbai”–and somehow this unfortunate event brought him to work in banquets, with his peers placing trust in him that he could handle bulk food preparations. In hindsight, this experience brought him to where he is today. Through this experience, he also saw first-hand how leadership is crucial to the lives of his team and guests. 

After his experience at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, he continued his career at the JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar and St. Regis Mumbai, where he was awarded the Rising Star Asia Pacific for Marriott International in 2018 and the Young Chef 2022 by Campo Viejo. In his tenure, he was the youngest Executive Chef at St. Regis.

Ready for new challenges, he came to Bali in November 2023 to get settled in his new position as Executive Chef in Westin Nusa Dua. “I wanted to do Southeast Asia and I wanted to be in a hotel that is looking forward. There’s a different charm to a hotel that’s been around a long time.” His excitement to join the team grew as he learned of the changes being made in the F&B department of the resort. 

Since he arrived in Bali, Chef Dane has discovered an abundance of flavors available in Bali and Indonesia, finding these quite similar to his hometown in Goa. “A lot of spices, a lot of ingredients, a lot of chili and turmeric which is very similar to the cuisine I grew up with.” 

With his style and philosophy in cooking, he follows simple methodology: The Three T’s. Taste — food should taste good. Temperature — hot food should be served hot, and cold should be served cold. Texture — one that has developed over the years. Food needs to have a bit of crunch and not simply gooey. He also believes in simplicity and seasonality in food, always respecting the ingredients — a philosophy he has followed since childhood.

As a carnivore himself, he has a “meaty” repertoire of dishes he likes to prepare. One dish he calls the Chorizo Shakshouka made with Goan chorizo, which he describes is a local Goa sausage, similar to the Balinese urutan.

He believes that Westin is the top destination on the island for its location and all that it has to offer. With a massive banquet space and complete F&B, “name a cuisine and we probably have it,” he believes that people come to Westin for two things: Serenity and Food. He is proud of the breakfast spread within the resort, one that he describes as a luxurious “well thought of breakfast” that showcases international and local cuisines.  

He is looking forward to upgrading the F&B and “Eat Well” areas of Westin, seeing the potential of each of the 8 venues, all with different characters and functions. “I am very much involved in the creation of menus. I will be creating new dishes with the chefs. When we make Italian dishes, we need an Italian chef, and I come in to work with the chefs.”

Guests can expect the signature excellence that Westin is known for, with more additions and upgrades in different areas of the F&B. Hamabe, their signature Japanese restaurant, as well as the Italian Prego, are both set to launch a new menu in the coming months. 

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