Have you ever attended one of those swanky parties, where champagne flows freely to wash down the oyster canapés inside the walls of iconic hotels; the same parties that leave you saving up your best cocktail dress, forking out on a blow dry and motivating even habitual flat-shoe bearers like myself to dig out our heels from the dust?
Over here in the public sector though, those parties? Not so much.
That’s not to say that I do not enjoy the work Christmas pub dinner, always a pleasant enough gathering, where for two years running, I have unwisely insisted on ordering the (overdone) nut roast, when I’m not even vegetarian. Public sector careers, though, aren’t typically your passport to glamorous events but there is a little dreamer in me, who imagines being Cinderella for a night with a chance to dress up in something glitzy and dance a waltz in a swish surroundings (maybe in another lifetime given my dancing skills.)
The Kayumanis Chef’s Collaboration Dinner
Last year, as if visiting the lush island of Bali was not a fairytale enough, the incredibly warm-hearted team at Kayumanis Resorts made it even more of a reality, when they invited me to attend the annual Kayumanis Chef’s Collaboration Dinner.
But unlike Cinderella, I arrived arm in arm with my prince, there was no curfew and the dress code was more Batik (traditional Indonesian print) and less glass slipper. Unfortunately, I did not have time to purchase a Batik dress but they were more than accepting of my conventional Western attire.
This exclusive, private event is usually only for senior members of the Kayumanis group, the travel industry and media professionals across Bali, Indonesia-wide and further beyond and last year’s function that we attended was held at Kayumanis Nusa Dua.
It was a double celebration because this was to be the launching night for the newly re-branded Tetaring restaurant, a high-end dining establishment, showcasing the best of Indonesian cuisine and believe me, ever since returning to London, I have had no luck in locating any Balinese food that even comes remotely close to the authentic, fresh flavours I sampled out there. If you can point me in the right direction, I’m all ears. 🙂
The Chef’s Collaboration element of the title refers to the way in which the most experienced, creative and skilled chefs from the different Kayumanis properties come together to prepare their most prized and renowned dishes so you can be sure it will be an epic night of gourmet mayhem. Given the incredibly high quality cuisine we had experienced the previous two days at Kayumanis Jimbaran, where we were staying, the prospect of this feast had our mouths watering all the way to the event.
We arrived after dark, to a balmy outdoor drinks reception, where we were introduced to members of the Kayumanis team – or family as they endearingly prefer to refer to themselves.
After a few formal photographs were taken, we could not resist walking around the hotel grounds, with the floodlit pathways providing a romantic ambience, whilst traditional Balinese music was played by a live band.
We felt rather humbled to have been seated at the top table, as it allowed us an opportunity to meet with many of the key figures in the group, who have worked so tirelessly over the years to make these properties so luxurious, welcoming and homely and if you want to understand why it was one of the best properties I have ever experienced, check out my first impressions of Kayumanis Jimbaran or have a peep inside our luxury private pool villa and hopefully I can convince you.
I was seated next to a lady, originally from Australia but who had settled and married in Bali and who shared fascinating stories about her experiences with me.
Drinks flowed freely all night with no restriction on type or quantity so you can imagine how merry the guests were starting to feel after a few hours. Meanwhile, as I happily sipped away at my mocktails, I was able to relieve Pumpkin of his photography-assistant duties for the night to allow him to enjoy the last of this magical evening.
After the savoury dishes were completed, we were invited up to the dessert buffet and throughout the evening, the courses had been interspersed with speeches and competitions.
Pumpkin even managed to win one of the raffle prizes and we found ourselves the lucky recipients of a spa voucher. Unfortunately, as we were departing Bali the next morning for Singapore, we were unable to use it and despite the staff insisting we keep it till we return to Bali one day, I ultimately offered it to the lady I had been chatting to for so much of the evening.
In the same way that so many conversations come with their own unique randomness, I somehow got talking to someone at the event about mortars and pestles (a few years ago, this is exactly the sort of conversation I would have teased my Mum about having!) I was told that solid, high quality ones are available readily at traditional markets in Bali but again, I put that thought to one side, since we were leaving so soon.
Imagine my surprise the next morning then, when the doorbell rang at our villa with several members of staff turning up to wish us well, bearing a newly purchased mortar and pestle for me to remember them by.
We were so touched by their kindness and it sits proudly in my kitchen, works a treat when we cook and always reminds me of my trip to Bali. They are absolutely solid and really quite heavy so I will leave you to figure out whether that got packed in Pumpkin’s case or mine 😀
Perhaps the most surreal moment of the night happened after speeches, desserts and formalities had come to a close and guests were starting to let their hair down. The live band was showing no signs of slowing down and I was asked to select a song. Captivated by the magical moments we were experiencing, the first one that sprang to mind was our wedding first dance song (ever the hopeless romantic.) Given that it was a well-known Elvis number, they started belting it out within minutes and I remembered every move of the choreographed dance we had rehearsed so many times in our living room.
Now, I have mentioned before in this post how much of a man of practicality Pumpkin is. A little shy by nature (and clearly not intoxicated enough), he was mortified that I was proposing we get up and dance right there in front of everyone but before I could persuade him, a Japanese businessman, who had been sitting on our table grabbed my hand enthusiastically and started twirling me round in circles. Meanwhile, his female business partner, feeling a little left out, stood up keen to dance herself.
It was one thing Pumpkin saying no to me, knowing I will love him regardless, but to turn down a request for a dance from a woman who was asking so politely, I reminded him, would be most un-chivalrous.
So somehow, on our last night in Bali, we each found ourselves dancing to our wedding song with unknown Japanese business associates rather than each other!
We had such a memorable evening at the Chef’s Collaboration Dinner and it was the most perfect way to say goodbye (for now) to Kayumanis and to Bali, a destination I already dream of returning to.
Have you ever been to event that had a funny or surprising ending?
Disclaimer: We were guests of Kayumanis Resorts for the Chef’s Collaboration Dinner but I am an opinionated little traveller and I am not capable of raving about something this much unless I truly love it. All views, good or bad, are entirely my own.