Chef Dom Hammond Tanaman Potato Head Bali

Dom Hammond – Head Chef Tanaman, Bali

Dom Hammond

In this interview, Dom Hammond, head chef of Tanaman at Potato Head, Bali, shares how she got into the industry and her future plans.

What do you do?

I am the head chef of Tanaman at Potato Head, Bali. I lead the research and development of the restaurant, focusing my time on creating seasonal menus, researching different ingredients, building our flavour library, and leading the team at the Desa.

How did you get into the industry?

When I first moved to Bali from Australia, I met some great friends in the hospitality industry. From there, I started developing and creating menus and recipes. After that, I began consulting and working on various projects in the hospitality industry.

Share with us a story from behind the scenes.

I spend a lot of time reading and researching food resources, taking inspiration from history, art, travel literature, films and documentaries. I also spend much of my research and development time outside in nature, learning from the land. On one specific trip, I met with a local forager who took me hiking through the jungle. To get to the jungle, we had to canoe in a traditional fishing boat in the sprinkling rain. I learnt folklore about the lake and wilderness and the traditional medicines growing around the lake. We came across wild coffee trees, mulberries, and edible plants and roots. I was shown how to forage fresh water from the jungle trees’ roots, which was a special experience.

What food memory from your childhood or travels stands out?

Memories from childhood are filled with the scent of toasting spices and slow-cooking curries in the kitchen, with African beats filling my ears. My mum is Zimbabwean, so our family home was always served curries, stews and exotic dishes. We would also travel a lot as kids to Africa, so I have fond memories of family brai, a family-style barbeques over the fire. Dad is Australian, so of course, again, the barbeque was always a common way of gathering the family and cooking.

What’s the best/ worst part of your job?

The best part, for sure, is my team. My colleagues are fantastic. Although we don’t speak the same language fluently, we always have that one thing in common: food! It’s a universal language that brings us together. I couldn’t pinpoint the worst part, but not seeing my friends and family as often as I’d like.

What’s one of your favourite food and beverage pairing?

Currently, I’ve got a broccoli dish on my menu, which pairs beautifully with a lovely Yarra Valley chardonnay.

What’s one of the wildest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?

I’ve seen my executive chef deal with some pretty wild and outrageous things. He’s had to feed groups of over 200 pax with last-minute changes not once, not twice, but a handful of times. Props to Chef Daryl for always keeping a tight ship and pulling it off every single time.

The perfect day off would be…

… sailing Raja Ampat, snorkelling in the morning, sunbaking in the midday heat with a cold coconut and then enjoying a barbeque dinner on the white sands of a secluded beach.

A day in the life of Dom Hammond is…

… hectic and fun but enjoyable! Being able to work in your passion is rewarding.

What does Dom Hammond do for fun?

I skateboard!

What’s something you’d like guests to know about Tanaman?

Our brand Tanaman is otherworldly, it’s inspired by plants, and it’s a journey. A multisensory experience.

How has the pandemic changed your perspective or the way you operate?

The pandemic definitely taught me to adjust and surrender to what can’t be controlled. I learnt to be flexible with our guests because you never know what to expect. I started by doing small chef’s tables and then operating the entire restaurant. It also taught me to live life to the fullest.

What’s something you’d like people to know about being a chef as a profession?

Being a chef is so much more than just cooking. It’s bonding with your team; it’s also operations, curating, developing recipes and engineering the menu. It’s looking into forecasts, researching different restaurants and ingredients, working with suppliers, heading out into the field and actually getting to know the farmer and the product. It’s constantly dreaming about the next dish. It’s not 9-5 but 24/7!

What’s your view on the food scene in Bali?

The food scene in Bali is amazing. There’s a bit of everything here, from high-quality Western, Indonesian and fusion foods to the most incredible street stalls. We have some really epic local and international talents here, from the boys at Fed by Made to Kieran Moreland at Sangsaka. There’s something for everyone here on the island of Bali.

What practices do you currently implement or hope to implement to work towards social responsibility and sustainability in the future?

At Tanaman, we use almost every part of every ingredient we come across. We have been creating what we call our flavour library. An encyclopaedia of sorts that is made up of experimenting with all kinds of plant matter. We make pepper from papaya seeds, use our citrus scraps to make oils, and turn mushroom waste into garum. We’ve been working with producers who practise regenerative agriculture. We also manage all of our trash in line with Potato Head’s waste management so that as little of it ends up in landfills and, where possible, is repurposed into something else.

What can guests look forward to in the upcoming months?

Guest chef collaborations, a Season Three menu (to be launched next year), and excellent service.

Read more interviews similar to this one with Dom Hammond here, and stay up to date with the latest food and beverage happenings in KL here.

One Comment

  1. Great to have colleagues one gets along really well with, sure makes working a pleasure!

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