Chef John Bakker

Chef John Bakker, Gili Lankanfushi, The Maldives

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is John Bakker and I’ve been the Executive Chef at Gili Lankanfushi for the past three years.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Gili Lankanfushi?
Well, basically I’d like every guest to know that when you come to Gili, you shouldn’t expect your “typical” resort food. I’d like guests to know that we’re one of the few places that still takes time to try to remain seasonal, buys the best items we can buy and presents an ever changing series of menus that I’d be proud to serve in London, New York or anywhere.
What’s your view on the Maldivian Resort food scene?
Honestly, most guests come for sea and sun, but increasingly we’re attracting knowledgeable foodies from around the globe who expect more from us then just your average fare. With the amazing support of the management here at Gili I’ve been encouraged to push the limits and try to make Gili Lankanfushi as much of a culinary destination as it is anything else.
What’s your favourite style of food?
Actually at the moment what we’re doing right here, right now is my favourite. I absolutely love the organic garden; being able to walk out back of the kitchen and have a ¼ acre of the freshest organically grown produce right at your fingertips is amazing. Pair that with the abundance of seafood available fresh caught daily, I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.
What have you learned from your three years in the Maldives?
Tough question, firstly, I’ve learned to really appreciate working with amazing staff. I’ve been so lucky to come here and work in a kitchen of regional experts who’ve taught me far more then I can ever teach them. Secondly, the complexity of the Indian Ocean palate, masalas, sambals, spice mixtures, rubs, marinades, the list goes on and on and it would take a lifetime to know everything. I love it.
The perfect day off would be?
This will sound very boring to you, but if I could do anything on my next day off, I’d like to go out for a nice meal followed by a current film at an actual cinema.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
Well, I’m looking forward to the European autumn seasonal stuff starting to come available in September, looking forward to getting some of the old home flavours back onto the menu, it’s always one of my favourite times of the year. We are also in the planning stages of series of wine dinners and guest chef appearances so stay tuned to the website for details!
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  1. That's the butterfly-pea flower, the bunga telang – used for the blue colour in nasi kerabu, nyonya kuihs and dumplings. Some say it has health benefits too.

  2. You said at the end of your post to 'follow this link'….what link? I don't see one. 🙂 Wonderful post and gorgeous photo, thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  3. An interesting interview with John Bakker, especially what he would like to do on a day off.
    I dare say seeing sea all around you can become a bit blase after 3 years!
    I don't fathom out how he could refer to London and New York being culinary / epicurean centres.
    I have eaten far better and presented meals in other places and at far less the cost – MUCH far
    less the cost.
    Now: The organic garden for vegetables etc. Soil???? The Maldives being virtually at sea-level would suggest a very sandy base. I presume the dirt / earth is imported???????

    John would not then be interested in the water skiing exploits of the 2nd and 3rd Cordobes.
    Good – more room for us to manoeuvre as we whiz around the atolls!

    El Colin Cordobes

  4. I'd love the know what all he has growing in the garden at the moment. Looks so beautiful!

  5. I just found the link! Heading there right now. 🙂

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