We could all agree that Italian cuisine is amongst the best in the world, but Maurizio Bombini was born in it, molded by it. (Literally) growing up in his parent’s restaurant on the shore of Adriatic Sea, the Apulla region’s native then began his encompassing culinary journey to numerous five-star resorts in five different countries; from Italy, France, USA, China to Indonesia. Nowadays, he poured all of his award-winning talent and effort to his namesake fine-dining establishment, Mauri, where he continues to serve portion after portion of classy dining experience to the guest from the Bali and beyond. Here is some of Maurizio’s fascinating thought and stories, told by the man himself.
1. You once stated that you ‘grew up in a restaurant’. Can you elaborate more about this interesting fact?
My parents had a restaurant before I was born and since my birth I’ve been always inside of my parent’s restaurant, I grew up like that, playing with the kitchens tools, helping to set up the table of the restaurant, cleaning dishes, everything what has to be done was part of my day after school hours. The restaurant was my house, after school I would go back to the restaurant, not at home like the other kids (laugh).
2. As an Italian-born chef who spends almost a decade of life and career in Asia, what is the most fascinating aspect that you learned from your experience so far? How did the whole ‘culture-change’ define your cooking philosophy?
More than the culture, is it the ingredients that changed my cooking philosophy. In Asia and particularly Bali, you cannot get what I use to get in Italy or Europe, so all recipes has to be changed. The technique also changes, the way how to create a dish changes. The culture in Bali is similar to my region, so it was not really a huge change for me but, what fascinated me is the origin of the customers which comes from around the world. It is amazing when you have people from all over the world with so many different cultures appreciate the same way in how you cook the dishes. Everyone has different perception of the Italian cuisine, the biggest challenge is to make sure that all of them fall in love with your food.
3. What is a ‘perfect dish’ according to you?
A perfect dish is a dish that you want to eat again and again! It has to be so good that you want to come back to this place only for this dish! And you remember it forever.
4. If you happen to win a million-dollar lottery, what would you use the money for?
A long holiday with my wife (laugh) Kidding!! I could do many things; for sure I would like to give back to the community… I’ve been in Bali 8 years and this island gave so much, I would love to give back, not by sending money to associations or others, but by creating a super professional and high level F&B and culinary academy that gives opportunity to people that cannot afford cost of schooling.
5. Could you recall one of the biggest moments in your kitchen career?
My first experience outside my parent’s restaurant North of Italy, I was working 14 hours a day with no days off for 4 months for the winter season. I’ll never forget how hard that was (laugh).
6. During your extensive times of travelling around the world to pick new ideas and cooking technique, which city/ country that the food fascinates you the most? Name two dishes (+ their origins) and the reason why?
Japan fascinates me a lot because each restaurants or Chefs are specialized in one food concept only, and maybe the same family has been cooking the same style of food since years… I don’t have a specific dish in mind but what fascinates me is their technique to keep the best from each ingredient and to always choose the top quality; the way how to cut or filet a specific fish, the way to cook a specific fish to have the best of it. Everything is so meticulous.
7. According to you, what is the most underrated Indonesian indigenous food? Do you have any plan to introduce/ incorporate the said food in one of your restaurants?
In general most people and tourists have no idea of Indonesian food. They only know 1 or maximum 2 dishes and their perception are underrated for Indonesian cuisine. In my previously job where I was also in charge of an Indonesian restaurant I really enjoy to help tourist discover Indonesian cuisine and it was so funny to see their reaction, they were so impress by the quality and the variety of Indonesian food. I’m even thinking why not in the future launch a concept that helps foreigner customers to understand more about it.
8. What is the next thing that we could anticipate from Mauri in near future?
We’ve only been open 6 months; it is too early to think about future projects now. Our priority today is to make sure that our customers leaving the place with the wish to come back soon as possible. We also just launched a New Discovery tasting menu inspired by fresh produce sourced from “Market of the day” which changes daily based on what we found at the market. For the first time in Mauri, we don’t even know the menu of next week or next month! This is something that we want to develop to bring the restaurant philosophy to a new stage.