“Look,” Dominique Hammond says, showing us her hiking boots and wiggling her feet for effect, “I’m going off foraging in the rainforest around Lake Beratan in Bedugul right after this.” Having experienced her playful and provocative nine-course plant-based menu served in the interplanetary planetarium that is Potato Head Bali’s Tanaman Restaurant, we believe her. She has the next menu to research and develop too.
Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt
The first, season one, based on the theme of water, ends in mid-October. It’s a technically dazzling menu – cold-smoked coconut labneh and lacto-fermented passion fruit, shio koji tenderized watermelon and nori – but for season two, based around the idea of fire, she plans to strip all the artifice away, replacing it with simple product-focused food touched with a lick of flame.
Chef Dom Hammond’s Culinary Journey Of Self-Discovery
Tanaman Restaurant will also move from three to five days of operations, and with the launch of the new menu to seven days. Rainy season is approaching too, which means sourcing ingredients will become unpredictable (vegetables can get moldy easily or suffer from pest damage at that time of year) so the menu will need to be dynamic, changing constantly based on what’s available.
Dominique, bright-eyed and cherub-faced, doesn’t look unduly stressed. But, then, Bali is not a place to get unduly stressed about anything. In fact, that was the reason she came here in the first place – on the kind of journey of self-discovery the Indonesian island has practically trademarked. Plus it’s only three hours from Australia, a fraction of the time it takes to reach Ibiza.
Dominique always cooked; lots of grilling fish over fire growing up in Coffs Harbor, and making lots of curries and slow-cooked meats with her Zimbabwean-Greek relatives on her mom’s side. Then satiating the munchies by throwing together leftovers in the fridge as a university student. “We’d have random things like some peanut butter and a few chillies and I’d turn them into a sate,” she remembers.
Arriving in Bali in 2016, she fully embraced a plant-based diet, although she’d already trained as a raw and vegan chef back in Perth. She began consulting on restaurant projects – menus for Kynd Community, Nalu Bowls, Peloton Supershop, Single Fin, Alamayah Resort, Ninety One and Neon Palms. “I always cook with an earth to plate philosophy,” she nods, “with sustainability and nutrition at the heart of every dish.”
Cosmic Plant-Based Cuisine
Although she’s calmly handling the development and launch of the new menu, and working on another drinks pairing with mixologist Hary Wahyudi, she does admit inhabiting Potato Head’s Tanaman Restaurant space was a bit daunting at first.
Only 50 meters from the beach, and built below Desa Potato Head’s sublime oceanfront studios, Tanaman Restaurant is part submerged submarine, part neon-lit botanical garden in neo-Tokyo.
Potato Head calls it an otherworldly venue with a teleporting soundscape. And a multi-sensory dining experience rooted in creative expression.
A Kind Of Blue
“The tables are so blue!” Dominique laughs. True, there’s electric blue everywhere – the tables, the chairs, even the walls and floor. And there’s tanks of cacti lit with pink neon, strips of vertical neon lighting that throb and change color during the evening, a round, sunken bar in the center, and a long open kitchen at one end. “And then I’m thinking should we be serving space food in here — you know the stuff in sachets and capsules they’d take to the moon?” she shrugs.
Fortunately, she chose to create a menu, touching on themes of zero-waste and incorporating processes like fermentation, that fits perfectly with the other-worldly space and the faintly post-apocalyptic vibes heightened by the recent pandemic; dishes like her pumpkin with mushroom scraps salt and pumpkin seed dukkah.
Farm To Table Food In Bali
“For that pumpkin dish the process, where we discovered we could use all of the pumpkin, from skin to seed, naturally led us to a zero-waste product,” she explains.
But she’s a bit uneasy with people thinking she follows buzzwords and trends like ‘zero-waste’. Her approach has always been to source locally here, and build deep relationships with farmers and suppliers, reducing the distance between farm and restaurant, and eliminating the need for disposable packaging – which is also why she’s heading off right after this to the rainforest around Lake Beratan looking for edibles to add to the new menu. And why her takeover at Potato Head, where the philosophy is ‘Good Times, Do Good’ makes perfect sense.
She was recently at Temuku in Papuan, she tells us, a beautiful organic farm up in the mountains, and before that Rama organic farm in Plaga. And tomorrow she’s back to Sweet Potato, Potato Head’s organic farm project, to help them harvest. “I don’t need the Tanaman Restaurant team to tell guests where every single thing came from, but I do want that narrative to underpin the dishes,” Dominique says.
The menu is also a whole-hearted celebration of plants. Besides one dish, the yuba, shallot waste dust, soy milk remoulade, finger lime and cucumber pickle which “transports you to the beach with a plate of fish and chips,” there’s no attempt to mimic meat. “Vegan chickens and steaks can be good stepping stones to plant-based living, but these days I prefer to cook whole foods and vegetables – for example, I’m playing around with a charred broccoli dish for the next menu.”
“Fermentation has become a bit hip too,” Dominique frowns. That, she says, slightly mischievously, is another reason to do away with it in the new menu.
“Fire is where my heart really is,” she decides finally. That and Bali.