Hailing from a (cool) coastal town of Warenambool, Australia, Brenton Banner growing up in the
kitchen, watching his beloved mum cooks delightful dishes for the family. It didn’t take long for him to
step out into the culinary field on his own. Striving to be the best of the best, Chef Brenton’s vibrant
journey has brought him to reside in the island of Bali as the mastermind behind Botanica Restaurant.
With Hellobali, he shared some of his insightful perspective about his culinary creations, local-sourced
ingredients, Balinese cuisine, to his experience living in Indonesia so far. Here goes…
1. Hi Chef! Please tell us a bit of your background. Is there any particular moment that makes you
decide to start a career in the kitchen?
I have always loved cooking and my earliest memories are sitting on the kitchen bench watching my
mum bake Anzac biscuits and creating the most amazing Pavlovas. I started working in kitchens when I
was 17 years old and since then I have worked for some of the best Chefs in Australia. In fact my first job
was working for George Colombaris (from Australian Masterchef fame) at his famed Press Club
restaurant. From there I moved to Circa at the Prince Hotel, another award winning restaurant and
Geoff LIndsay, a chef famed for his modern Australian cuisine. I am continually motivated to learn and
experience more to make myself the best chef I can be.
2. Explain to us about your signature cooking style and how would you implement them in Botanica?
For Botanica my inspiration comes from this amazing country Indonesia. I like to use only the best,
ethically sourced, local ingredients and present them in a fresh, contemporary manner. I look to the
sea, the land and the gardens for inspiration: Bedugul for fresh vegetables, Lombok and Flores for
oysters and seafood, and Java for the best beef, lamb and goat and cheese.
3. Name us one kitchen tool that you couldn’t live without
My knives! I have travelled the world with them and am always buying new ones. I’m obsessed with
the knife sellers on bikes here in Bali. I’ve bought a coconut opening knife, a machete type one and a
bunch of others. I love my oyster knife as well. I couldn’t open the dozens of oyster well to sell daily
4. In Botanica, you feature ‘Modern Australian’ dishes made of locally-sourced ingredients. What’s the
biggest challenge so far to turns that concept into reality?
I find sourcing some local ingredients particularly challenging. Sometimes my suppliers don’t
understand that I want grocers straight from the farm. They don’t have to look perfect, they need to
taste perfect! So they buy from imported produce that looks good, but is taste less and very expensive.
I now have great suppliers who slowly understand our specific needs for Botanica
5. What is your most favorite Indonesian indigenous spice to work with?
Bali has a unique street food cuisine that is rich, aromatic and downright delicious. Pork is top of the list
in Bali. Babi Guling (traditional BBQ suckling pig) is the king. A whole suckling pig is slow roasted in an
outdoor oven for up to12 hours. It is seasoned with ‘Genep’ spices (a mixture of turmeric, galangal,
coriander seed, garlic and other local spices) So far this is my favourite spice mix!
6. Before Botanica, your latest establishment in Australia is called ‘Pickled Pig’. Could you elaborate a
bit, especially about the catchy-yet-peculiar namesake?
The Pickled Pig was the name of the building before I opened it. It has no real significance; however I do
tend to love pickling (but vegetables, not pigs).
7. What’s the biggest different between living here in Bali and back home (Australia). Any ‘culture
shock’ moment when you first arrived on the island?
I like to take things in my stride, and I am really enjoying being here. The challenges are quite simple
things like finding out where to buy certain foods, how to navigate the traffic and the police, also the
heat. I’m from a cool coastal town called Warenambool where it is bitterly cold in winter and moderate
in the summer, it taken time to acclimatize. There are a few language challenges but I'm learning very
quickly kitchen Bahasa Indonesia. In terms of culture shock – Bali is so progressive and modern in many
ways – it’s been easy to find my place. I respect the cultural differences of all the people I meet here;
though I can’t keep up with all the ceremonies, holidays etc. I think we need more in Australia!
8. If you’re a type of dish, what would you be, and why?
Steak, because you don’t make friends with salad!
Botanica Bali Restaurant
Jl. Kayu Jati No.1, Seminyak, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361
T: +62 361 473 2377