The olive based beach food dishes by Chef Greg Bunt

Set in the beautiful beachfront Sundara at Four Seasons Resort in Bali, for the Epicure Indonesia's Masterclass Chef Greg Bunt prepares array of dishes he likes to call “beach food”: a combination of fresh, light, and healthy ingredients aligned to the spirit of the peaceful Muaya Beach where Sundara is located.

For the dishes Chef Greg explained that there are two kinds of olives used; the big meaty green one, and the pitted “black” purple ones which have more intense and concentrated flavor. With these two key ingredients he created three different dishes: Polenta with King Scallops, Olive tapenade, and goat cheese; Octopus salad with dried olives; and Grilled Tuna with olive, preserved lemon, and parsley.

Polenta with King Scallops, Olive tapenade, and goat cheese

The first dish was created with tapenade: a pesto like compound made with black olives, pitted dates, and anchovies. While there are different ways of chopping olives, Chef Greg preferred to use his slicing knife to create a coarser compound, and at the same time enables him to hunt for those inedible hard olive seeds.  

Polenta is a meal in its own. Considered as classic and rarely found in contemporary restaurants, Chef Greg admitted he hasn’t been cooking it for a while but thought it would be good option for the cooking theme and so he did.

Adding a dollop of butter and parmesan to give it a creamy flavor, he then put the cooked polenta aside to rest and then revealed some King size scallops to the audience. Sourced from cooler waters in northern seas; it was huge, unlike those small sized scallops sourced from local, tropical waters.

And even though the scallops came without its shells, Chef Greg first prudently inspects each scallop for the tough tendon that was used by the clam to close its shells tight.

Preparing the pan, he made special notice that for searing scallops you need a heavy black pan and heat it all the way up until it’s really hot, or borrowing from the chef’s lingo “turn the pan blue”. As the pan begun to emit thin smokes, he then poured some olive oils then proceed to put the huge scallops one at a time.

“These mussels are very good; sashimi grade so there’s no need to cook it thoroughly. Sear them for several seconds on one side until it becomes golden brown, and then flip them over, this way you’ll seal the flavor inside.” Chef Greg explained further.

The polenta which had become firm enough to cut into slices after resting was the first to put into the serving wooden pad. Chef Greg then arranges them loosely, and proceeds to set the seared scallops in a same manner. “Natural arrangement looks the best for this dish, but it requires you to less arrange it” he made another note.

“No garnish, everything put on the dish is to eat” he continued as he poured the tapenade into small mounds on top and in between the main ingredients. Last he pulled out a greyish yellow mound which turned out was a preserved lemon relish. “A good chef always puts surprises in his cooking, and for this dish the fermented lemon would put a zesty surprise for those lucky enough to encounter it on their plate” said chef before grated some lemon peels and drizzled some olive oil as the finishing touch.

The scallop tasted sweet and chunky, its scorched surface gives out a savory umami flavor. The polenta had this grainy slimy texture with a fragrant butter aroma. It’s mouthful and creamy, complimenting well the scallop sweet taste. The olive tapenade provides a piquant smearing in between the mellow taste, while the fermented lemon tasted both zesty and sweet; a serene flavor plays.


Octopus salad with dried olives

The chef then proceeds to create the next dish which is the Octopus salad. First he explained how Italian processes fresh octopus into a delicacy, which involving thoroughly beating octopus which helps to relax its muscles; a process which plays an important part in making the octopus meat pleasingly edible.  

Using the similar method explained, including air drying the carcass for couple of days to let the enzyme naturally soften the tissue, Chef Greg managed to obtain the very tender octopus meat, out of the rubbery tough texture it naturally has.

The tender octopus salad was further enriched in taste and texture with the addition of julienne Jicama (Bengkuang), chopped tomatoes, and breadcrumbs.

The end product itself tasted nothing like the octopus we used to encounter as Tako sushi, where its rubbery texture still prevails; it's like a very tender chicken fillet that's been steamed for a while, though not as soft.

Grilled Tuna with tomato salsa, olive, preserved lemon, and parsley

As his last presentation, Chef Greg brought out a big slab of Yellowfin Tuna meat, and has one of his cook to grill it as of making a steak.

While waiting for the tuna to cook, he prepared the tomato salsa using the chopping technique again to obtain the rough and diced end texture. He then proceed to sauté the salsa and both the fresh and the dried olives, and poured them over the nicely grill marked tuna. As the finishing touch he sprinkled over some chopped parsley.

As the result, the firm meat like tuna has its robust flavor matched well with the tangy and rustic tomato olive salsa combination.

After the meal we then ended our afternoon watching the serene Muaya beach during the sunset. Looking for more challenge, I go for Sundara’s curry flavored mocktail. Which was... not bad at all! The curry flavor itself was used to accentuate the sour lassi, resulting in a pleasantly fresh and fragrant drink.

Meaning “beautiful,” in Sanskrit, Sundara focuses on the lovely vast views of the Indian Ocean. Chef Greg himself is an Australian chef with a track of established six restaurants in Brisbane over seven years before decided to move to Bali.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Greg's earlier career was established in Hong kong where he developed his culinary skills in the capacity of Executive Chef Aqua Group, Chef de cuisine Totts Excelsior Hotel, Chef Manager Mezzaluna Mandarin Oriental Macau. (byms)

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, Kuta Selatan, Bali, 80361, Indonesia | +62 (361) 708333 | |