With so many reasons to come to Bali, the local food and beverage industry believes that they should certainly be high on that list. Does the now thriving restaurant scene have what it takes to attract visitors to the island in its own right? The recently formed Bali Restaurant and Café Association believes that it does.
How Bali is perceived around the world has evolved over time. In just 100 years the island has changed from rural village scenes to buzzing tourist industry. The 1920’s saw foreign artists and anthropologists arriving in search of escapism, exoticism and inspiration; then slowly bohemians and backpackers, surfers landed on the shores. From the 1980’s onwards, the south continued to develop into a real tourist industry, catering to a wide array of demographics from families and honeymooners to partygoers and wellness seekers.
With every tourist destination, there is always a ‘pull’, the ‘why’, and Bali is unique in the sense that it has many, many whys. The way it has developed over time has meant attractions have simply piled up, making an almost exhaustive menu of things to do and see: culture and nature, then we have the arts and craft, adventure, wellness, parks and attractions, and of course leisure, in its many forms. Together these factors have brought millions of visitors to the island.
Starting as a ‘supporting industry’ for tourism, the food and beverage scene now wants its time in the limelight — and deservedly so! With heavy competition and such a variety of eaters to please, restaurants and cafés in Bali have had to always push the envelope. This has meant constant innovation and improvement over decades to the point where now it’s fair to say it is really at a world-class level.
The Bali Restaurant and Café Association
Feeling a lack of representation and a need for collaboration, ‘The Bali Restaurant and Café Association’ (BRCA) was born out of the pandemic, founded by Chef-Restaurateurs Chris Salans and Dean Keddell and Restaurateur Anthony Syrowatka. The objective was to create a shared forum in which the entire industry could elevate together, with the goal of making Bali an international dining destination. They have been joined by sommelier Kertawidyawati, restaurateur Kora Amalwati, hoteliers Bayu Sarwono and Jimmy Gunawan and media-insider Weni Ariasty to form an official board.
This goes beyond a simple promotions campaign. Becoming a dining destination means creating a unified vision and standard that safeguards the entire island’s reputation. With this, the BRCA are committed to actively improving the operational standards of members in the areas of sustainability, sourcing, hygiene and service. This means upholding responsible waste management, sustainable initiatives and pledges, good employment practices and more.
With standards met across the board, the entire industry benefits and everyone wins, this includes diners, the staff, suppliers and also the environment. As a unified group, the BRCA can lobby for entry in international awards and competitions, from Michelin to Gault Millau and ‘The World’s 50 Best’. These have left Indonesia very much in the dark despite its high standards.
This isn’t just about fine dining or Western tastes. Bali has a rich culinary heritage and by promoting the dining scene, Balinese food (from authentic to new innovations) can receive its well-deserved recognition; Balinese produce can be showcased to the world; food festivals can thrive; and it will open up a stage for Bali’s own talented chefs, baristas, mixologists, sommeliers and more.
Learning and growing together
The idea for the BRCA came about in August 2020, holding their first event in April 2021 and, since 25 July 2022, become a legal association, with 23 businesses joined as official members and 50-60 restaurants joining monthly events.
BRCA’S industry luncheons held monthly around the island are more than simple meet-and-greets, they feature key presentations and speakers from solutions providers for the restaurant industry. They have had PT Mantra Bali a leading Environmental Engineering and Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) Consultancy based on the island; Sungai Watch, an organisation that stops the flow of plastic pollution in rivers, then collects, sorts and upcycles said waste into new products; and a tour-workshop around Desa Potato Head’s upycling centre, ‘Waste Lab’.
“It is time for us to unite and implement safe and sustainable practices for all food and beverage businesses in Bali and let it be known that BRCA members care about Bali and its future,” shares co-founder Chef Chris Salans.
The Bali Restaurant and Café Association is open to new members from the food and beverage industry in Bali, including suppliers and producers. Join their regular events, all with the purpose to collaboratively elevate the island’s culinary scene.
The Bali Restaurant and Café Association is open to new members from the food and beverage industry in Bali, and hold regular events, all with purpose and objectives. Find out more: https://www.balirca.id/