Jo & Hugo: Two Frenchmen on a culinary mission in Bali

 

Chef and co-owner at Joli Restaurant, Kerobokan, Bali

Seminyak may be Bali’s most popular restaurant food strip, but just 10 minutes to the north in quieter Kerobokan, beside an emerald rice field, can be found one of the island’s finest French eateries. Joli is already a popular favourite with the locals and regular island visitors, and deservedly so.

If you like your tuna tender and delicious, your risotto brimming with flavour and your chocolate tart a symphony of yumminess, then this is your restaurant.

Our Guest Chef, Hugo Thiebaut, from the French isle of Corsica, opened Joli with his partner, Jo Maroselli, earlier this year.

He chats to The Starfish.

Why Bali?

Because Jo and I liked this island so much, we wanted to live here. We’d been here on holidays a few times, but to really know the place, to feel the spirit of the people, you need to live here.

Was it hard to find the right location?

No, because our friend, a chef also from Corsica, who has a creperie across the road, told us a place had come up which he thought we’d like. We came here, loved the location, and never looked anywhere else!

Bali has so many restaurants already. How could you be confident this one would work?

We wanted to live here, and we know food. We were very confident. This is a quiet area, but that’s what we want. We don’t want it to be big; we want a small restaurant. We started without any publicity but word of mouth has been fantastic. We were full last Friday night, so Joli is certainly catching on.

 

A Joli piece de resistance: tuna accompanied with gaspacho

 

What are the most popular dishes you serve?

Nicoise Salad, Beef Chuk and our Classic Chocolate Torte.

Were there a few challenges to setting up the restaurant?

Many! We had legal hassles, renovation hassles, and lots of headaches. Even our opening night was a disaster. There was a power blackout, so we had to close before we’d even opened – and make it the following night!

Hugo, where have you worked in the past?

I trained in Paris, at a famous restaurant, 59 Poincare. Later I moved to Louis XV in Monte Carlo, then a couple more restaurants, and most recently, Alain Senderens in Paris. Every restaurant I’ve worked at has been Michelen-star.

 

Joli devotees come from far and wide for Hugo’s divine chocolate torte

 

How would you describe your menu?

We create classic French cuisine, but give each dish our own special touch. We like to be a little bit different. We are also learning a lot about the local Balinese produce, and have started to integrate some of this into the dishes. I visit the local markets daily, shopping for produce, but also continue to import certain ingredients I can’t get here in order to achieve authentic French tastes.

How have people responded to Joli?

Very well. Since we have been open we haven’t had one negative comment. Everyone compliments the quality of the food, so I think we are doing things right. We have also started a take-out service which is very popular with people staying in the villas in the area. Jo and I are very happy with the way things are going.

 

Jo and Hugo have brought a new level of sophistication to international dining in Kerobokan

Hugo’s scrummy Tuna Bloody Mary recipe is also on our Yum page.

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