English native Co-owner and Executive Chef in Bali, James Ephraim shares with us his thoughts on his newest venture, Mozaic Beach Club. With outstanding experiences in some of the most established restaurants from South Asia, Australia, England and France, James brings a new spin on Modern Balinese Cuisine.
He started at the highly praised and famous Grosvenor Hotel in England. After a few years, he departed for the South Pacific and Australia. Chef Ephraim continued to develop his skills while holding many prestigious positions around the world.
Embracing the philosophy of co-owner and good friend, Chef Chris Salans, in the use of Bali’s freshest ingredients, Chef Ephraim has been critical in co-creating the Modern International Balinese Cuisine that Mozaic Ubud has made world-famous. Mozaic Ubud is the second of only two restaurants in South East Asia to be recognized as a member of ‘Les Grande Tables Du Monde’ (The Grand Tables of the World).
Chefs Ephraim and Salans opened Mozaic Beach Club, the newest member of the distinguished family of Mozaic Restaurants. In partnership with Nayati, the kitchen design at Mozaic Beach Club is a chef’s dream. The Workshop-Mozaic Cooking School partners with Miele to provide a unique culinary school for the recreational or aspiring master chef. It’s the first professional level cooking school in Bali and is destined to be a modern laboratory of culinary arts in Southeast Asia.
Yogi Times got together with James for some vegan and vegetarian delights in bali
, a big tour of Mozaic’s gigantic kitchen and a sunset Mocktail.
YT: You are known for your advanced gourmet cuisine, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you made it to Bali in the first place?
Originally I am from the U.K and after 10 years of cooking in various restaurants worldwide I met Chris through a mutual friend, the very well known chef Emmanuel Stroobant who has a group of restaurants in Singapore. It was the time when I was looking at moving from New Zealand back to Asia. The jobs that were available at that time were not what I was looking for so I planned on moving to Spain. Then at the last minute Emmanuel put me in touch with Chris. I then changed my plans and flew to Bali! I worked alongside Chris for 4 years at Mozaic Ubud as the “Chef De cuisine” pretty much after the 1st
2 weeks of working together, It was clear that we both shared the same passion for food. Over the last 4 years we have been working together, exploring new ingredients and developing the menus at Mozaic Ubud. For me it’s great to work with someone who has a similar passion and drive for food and quality.
YT: During our visit to Mozaic Beach Club, we heard a lot about all the details that went into the creation of this establishment…Are you a bit of a perfectionist?
Absolutely. My mother used to say "if you take time to do something, do it well”. That has followed me until now.
YT: What most guests won’t get to see is what impressed us the most upon our visit…the incredible kitchen! Can you share with our readers the vision you put into it?
Chris Salans and I had a great time planning this dream kitchen. With the help of Nayati, we drew the space and worked around the teams’ needs. Kitchen staff must move freely, and it is rare that we can take so much space for the kitchen in a restaurant. Chefs own this restaurant, so the chefs decided what was important in terms of operations! That’s why we have a dream kitchen!
YT: Mozaic in Ubud, is known worldwide for its cuisine, how do you plan on maintaining this reputation for the Beach Club?
Of course food comes first for us, but we found a way to have a great multi level complex that combines atmosphere, attention to detail and great service, and the food we wanted to do for a beach location.
YT: Many of our readers are vegetarian, vegan or even gluten-free, can your team prepare such cuisine on the spot?
Of course, we do it on a daily basis and many dishes in our menu are tailored for the people who want to eat well. I’ve always loved the challenge of creating vegetarian dishes using our style of cuisine. In Ubud, I used to do Vegan cooking classes and even spa cuisine.
YT: Who was your greatest teacher, and why?
Andoni from “Mugaritz” restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain. He gave me truckloads of inspiration.
YT: What has Bali brought to your cuisine?
Incredible ingredients and spices, which I discovered here for the first time.
YT: What has been the most challenging aspect of your personal journey, and how has that strengthened you?
I think it was realizing the choice I made to live abroad and be able to discover all those tastes and ingredients, and meeting like-minded people along the way. It is not always an easy choice even though it brings me a lot of satisfaction. It also brings difficulties, like being far away from family and old friends.
YT: With your plan to open a culinary school behind the Beach Club, you would then operate an education center and a large restaurant. How do you plan on managing it all?
With a great team, with Chris Salans’ flair for making the right choices and with the Mozaic name as a vehicle for high standards of quality. That is how Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique was built. That’s how we have built the Mozaic Beach Club and I believe the same philosophy will be behind future projects.
YT: What are some of the biggest challenges, and what do you enjoy the most about being a restaurant owner?
I enjoy having the freedom to create dishes and lead the team. It always gives me, and the team, a boost when a guest comes to the kitchen and expresses their gratitude for the food and service. The challenge, of course, is making sure that things go smoothly each and every day.
YT: How do you define success?
I believe that success comes from a great team. A restaurant with no staff is just a building. It’s the entire team that makes it special with attention to detail and giving each and every guest a great dining experience.
YT: With so many accomplishments already in your life, what do YOU consider to be your biggest success?
I always dreamed to open a place by the beach in a tropical country! I’m living my dream!
YT: What do you implement as a chef, restaurant owner and team leader that you see as being forward thinking?
I like to allow my team to bring new things, ingredients, and techniques to me. I believe I have to be open minded and flexible to allow the next generation to bloom.
YT: What gets you out of bed every day?
The idea of creating great dishes.
YT: Any word of food wisdom?
Dare to try. Taste new dishes and ingredients. You never know what you will discover.
Chef Chris Ephraim’s love of Bali comes through in every detail. Every bite, every sip, every moment at Mozaic Beach Club creates enduring memories.
Mozaic Beach Club - Jl. Pantai Batu Belig, Kerobokan - t: +62 361 4735796