Chef Brook Petrie from The Commoner, Melbourne Australia showing his magic at Alila Soori Bali

Brook Petrie, First in Line-Up of Culinary Stars To Descend on Alila Soori, Tabanan, Bali.

Brook Petrie, First in Line-Up of Culinary Stars To Descend on Alila Soori

Alila Villas Soori unveils its first celebrity guest chef on its bill of culinary wizards that will present their expertise in lavish feasts at the resort throughout the year. 

First up is Brook Petrie, head chef of The Commoner restaurant in Fitzroy, Melbourne, who will excite guests’ palates at the resort’s Cotta on the 22nd February 2013. 

Brook was instilled with the importance of fresh, seasonal produce during his time as a chef at the Auckland Institute of Technology. Further posts along his career included the famed Auckland seafood restaurant Hammerheads and Wellington’s acclaimed Icon restaurant at Te Papa Museum. 

After leaving New Zealand in 2002, Brook’s extensive travels saw him take up chef positions at a number of internationally acclaimed restaurants including clocking up over four years at Peter Gordon’s Providores in London. Time spent at Christine Manfield’s dynamic East West in London and Michelin-starred Public Restaurant in New York helped Brook hone his talents for producing eclectic, global cuisine.

Drawing inspiration from his travels around the world and experience in some of the world’s best kitchens, Brook shakes up classic British dishes with a contemporary edge at The Commoner in Melbourne. Here he excites guests with food that is both comforting and quirky. At Alila Villas Soori’s Cotta, Brook will bring with him some of his signatures that have become favourites among the patrons of the famous Melbourne restaurant. 

Alila Villas Soori

Alila Villas Soori gives the sophisticated traveler the option to stay at a luxury resort in West Bali. Located along the southwest coast of Bali, in the Tabanan Regency, the resort is just 20 minutes from Tanah Lot temple, and over an hour from Ngurah Rai International Airport. Set in one of Bali’s most fertile and picturesque regions, Alila Villas Soori lies between beautiful volcanic-sand beaches and verdant rice terraces, with the mystical Mount Batukaru in the distant horizon. Designed by Singapore-based SCDA Architects, Alila Villas Soori is an inspired expression of contemporary Asian architecture that blends seamlessly with the lush surroundings of its tropical beachfront setting, and which has been designed, constructed and managed in accordance with Green Globe international environmental standards.


Lifestyle Collection

Alila Hotels and Resorts offer stylish, relaxing environments with surprisingly different lifestyle concepts and guest experiences that are continuously redefined by the latest developments in design and living. The Alila Experience is centred on building unique “emotional moments" between the guest, the hotel and destination. The name Alila is derived from Sanskrit meaning ‘surprise’.

Alila Villas

Crafted Luxury

Alila Villas represent Alila’s new generation of ultra-luxurious yet sustainable developments in some of the most spectacular locations offering an unprecedented level of private space, design and architecture, personalised hospitality and destination experiences that set it apart. Designed by award-winning teams of architects, interior designers and artisans, an Alila Villas project is the only brand that is designed, built and operated to Earth Check standards - integrating the natural, physical & cultural elements of its environment.

For reservation and information, contact 
Photos courtesy of Alila Villas Soori
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Epicurina Insight: Portabella Bistro, Bali

Consistent with what Howard Schulze set out when he operated the first branch of Starbucks, Portabella Bistro in Bali sets to offers enchanting eating experience instead of good food alone. Portabella Bistro aims to indulge all of your senses to feel the Italian Bistro experience, hence the meticulous attention to details and the huge efforts involved in the process of providing the sparkling experience, including bringing the chairs straight from Italy to further enhance the experience of authenticity.

The Sensory Indulgence


Right upon your entrance to the dining area you will be greeted by the familiar rustic scent of old wood; those that you encounter during a visit to your lovely granny's house back in the rustic village. While it's true that most of the interior are dominated with wood, this scent according to Billy Wirawan, one of the masterminds behind Portabella Bistro, and Fontana hotel Bali respectively, comes from the front door and the chairs used in the room. What’s with the front door? It’s a stunning collage of different pieces of wood put together into a new use; Eco-friendly design at its best. You can still see parts of old mechanical locking hand attached to a part of the collage, standing as a testament of what it used to be.


Beside of the front door, at the center of the dining area are different sets of old dining chairs which according to Finy Wirawan, the other mastermind behind Portabella Bistro, each hold interesting background story. What's a more amazing fact perhaps, are those chairs that are over 100 years old, and still looking perfect! They are the product of European chair masters hence while looking humble, the details are quite interesting. Most of their parts are carved out from a single piece of wood, including its arched back.

While Portabella Bistro is brand new, the passion for heritage plays a huge part in Portabella Bistro’s setup. Beside of the front door to the bistro, many of the hotel’s lobby decors were coming from Java in a form of a whole house! Stripped down to be used as part of Fontana Hotel where Portabella Bistro resides. 


On the Portabella Bistro wall, there are many curious items to indulge yourself into: rustic icons of the past, clips of newspaper from the World War I, vintage working tools, and displayed on the wall among other interesting memorabilia, is one familiar puppet who often associated with truthfulness (or the lack of it): Pinocchio. And more than just an ornament, Pinocchio secretly sets the direction of Portabella Bistro’s atmosphere, including the wood-dominant interior, items displayed on the wall, including photographic concept used in its menu, and website. This place is literally full with hidden stories to discover; hence I think it makes sense that Billy seeing his Fontana Hotel as an art gallery. 

All of the items displayed on the wall are the fruit of both Billy and Finy's adventure where they handpicked each and every one of them then restore them from whatever old and weathered conditions they were in. So it's not an overstatement to say that Billy and Finy really pours their heart and soul into making this experience orchestra happens.

Should you prefer an open-air experience, Portabella Bistro also provides two level outdoor seating: on the ground towards the swimming pool; and on the raised patio with a romantic setting, under the watchful dramatic face of Portabella Bistro's iconic puppet girl, who perhaps is a distant nephew of Pinocchio. 


Shot by a professional fashion photographer, the puppet girl also appears in Portabella Bistro's menu and website, which stands as a proof that Portabella Bistro doesn't want to stop in providing unique interior design alone.

As a duet between Popo Danes and former Super Potato's designer Nobuyuki Narabayashi, the hotel provides a good playground for Billy & Finy to express their idea of a good bistro, including in meticulously hand-picked the entire menu, and bringing the chef from Naples, Italy to ensure that you get the best of Classical Italian cuisine.

The Eating Experience 

A master of Classical Italian cuisine, Vittorio Negri was born in Naples, Italy, and then developed his career in Tuscany, London, Abu Dhabi, and finally Koh Samui in Thailand before settling his foot in Bali.

Aiming for a perfect hit, Chef Vittorio Negri cook the menus consolidated in Portabella Bistro using original Italian spices, then further enhancing it for a stronger, palatable taste to regional appetite while still maintaining its originality. 

Chef Vittorio Negri also shares a same vision of Italian cooking with Billy and Finy: that in the heart of Italian cuisine lies a simple happiness. Because while it’s true that Italian cuisine might take laborious preparation, it offers enjoyment that’s easy to discern by common people.

Take for example the Ossobuco served with Milanese Risotto using genuine (and plentiful) saffron, which resulted in its unique aromatic with slight metallic taste risotto; a good match for the tender juicy veal shank that represent what Ossobuco is.

The Calzone Ripieno further provides a good example of this simple happiness tenet; crunchy on the outside, rich with cheese on the inside, it's quite an easy to like treat, especially for those pizza bellies.

The Risotto Porcini has this creamy flavor in between the strong lingering aroma of fresh Porcini mushroom, a perfectly mellow treat. 

The slow cooked Beef Cheeks offers an interesting choice; while it has rough, coarse grain, but it’s cooked until achieving a tender consistency, with a strong beef taste leaning towards the taste of tongue. Served on top of mash potato, it helps toning down the strong beef taste. While it's might not be everyone's dishes due to its unique taste, surely it ranked high on my personal favorite list.


As starter, the Italian Cheese Pie offers this rich cheesy mound, similar with Yorkshire pudding only with much richer and stronger cheese taste. The Vegetarian Platter offers several interesting ingredients like artichoke heart, olives, and sundried tomatoes.   

The Mint Green Tea & White Chocolate Lava Cake provides a sweet closure to the hearty dinner. You can also find various other desserts here including the classic Tiramisu.


Portabella Bistro also offers various kinds of cocktails, including wine. Another strong point here is the Coffee which is specially designed for Fontana Hotel. While the coffee at Portabella is good, for a more artisan blend feel free to visit Portabella Bistro's sister next door: Sunny 16 Café which opens 24 hours. Filled with books, desserts, and good drinks, Sunny 16 excels in offering a very reasonable price as well. 

After the meal, or while waiting for your food to arrive, have a look around this chic and interesting hotel full with hidden stories, like where the rest of the whole wooden house gets to become, the rustic old barber chairs coming from Vietnam, a working zoetrope machine, or the old typewriter used by Italian notorious leader, Benito Mussolini. (byms)

For more information about Portabella Bistro please contact:


Portabella Bistro

Jl. Dewi Sri No. 68

Kuta - Bali, Indonesia 80361

T. +62 361 8947002

F. +62 361 8947123 



T. +62 361 8947002

F. +62 361 8947123


Fontana Hotel

Jl. Dewi Sri No. 68

Kuta - Bali, Indonesia 80361

T. +62 361 8947100

F. +62 361 8947123 



T. +62 361 8947100

F. +62 361 8947123 



T. +62 361 8947100

F. +62 361 8947123 


Photos are courtesy and copyright of Portabella Bistro unless stated otherwise.

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Eating out at Forrest Gump's restaurant

Forrest Gump

Image via Wikipedia

I was intrigued with this Internet testimonial on Trip Advisor website I’ve came across, that says Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co. in Kuta serves garlic butter shrimp in a bucket! While the bucket might not add special taste to the shrimp, it surely provokes interesting vision in my mind; a raw extravagance that usually only exhibited in Galia’s after-war party with Asterix and Obelix.

I love shrimps! However the funny thing about Bubba Gump in Kuta is that I have never heard anyone from my fellow foodies reccomends it, while this chain restaurant looks like garnering quite a success elsewhere. I wonder why.

Besides, if you have watched the movie “Forrest Gump” and becomes quite attached to it, then there’s a big chance you’d be curious to find out more about this imaginary Forrest’s business turns real, which was born by inspiration from Forrest’s late friend, Pvt. Benjamin Buford 'Bubba' Blue, the shrimp obsessed soldier.

Curious to find out, I think this shrimp in a bucket would serve as my entry to the eating experience in Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

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Jeruk Bali Indonesian Pomelo

If you are growing up in Indonesia before the coming of the console games, you have to be creative in looking for amusement. It means bundling up plastic bags to make bola kasti (a lighter version of softball), scouting up good round rocks to participate in sorodot gaplok (foot bowling using rocks), and stacking up pieces of genteng (pantile) for Bancakan, a combination game of hide and seek, softball, and full body contact game.

Bahasa Indonesia: Jeruk Bali di pasar pondok l...

Image via Wikipedia

Another kind of creativity practiced by fathers for their kids, is to shape a toy cart made up of the skin of Jeruk Bali fruit, or internationally known as Pomelo.

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Food Expression in Indonesian

Asian Food Channel

Image by NikMuhdHafiz via Flickr

Start airing on AFC (Asian Food Channel) this November 2011, is one food adventure show which based on Indonesian eateries, titled "Taste of Indonesia". The show is hosted by a father and daughter duo, Bondan and Gwen Winarno.

Perhaps less known to the audience outside Indonesia, Bondan Winarno is a national celebrity; food-celebrity to be precise. His friendly face and smile greets national TV audience regularly on weekends, through various cooking & eating shows.

He also leads a tribe of foodies "Jalansutra", a term which means "Knowledge on Jalan-jalan (Traveling)", which includes surely the activity of eating -- two things that "Pak Bondan" enjoys very much since back from the time when he's regularly traveling around Indonesia and the world as a journalist.

While quite famed himself, Pak Bondan are best known for the phrase he helps popularized and has becoming his trademark; "maknyus!" or the more complete "poko'e maknyus!"

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About Epicurina

Epicurina is maintained by Bayu Amus, a gastronomic storyteller and Food Experience designer. He pens food articles for travel magazines, speaks on food events, and was part of Makansutra Indonesia 2013 team. Contact him through

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