I met up with the members of the Sydney Balinese community in the grounds of Sydney University where they keep their gamelan instruments. This was a special episode because my family had been invited to come with me and join in the day’s celebration.
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20 May 2014 - 11:02 AM  UPDATED 24 Oct 2018 - 2:03 PM

The morning began quite hectically, not only getting myself ready, but trying to round up my own family who were excited about the day ahead.

At first I was distracted, keeping one eye on my kids while trying to talk to the leaders of the community. But there was no need to worry, the beautiful welcoming nature the Balinese extended to us was impressive. The ladies made my wife extremely comfortable and taught her how to weave baskets from palm fronds and it only took a couple of minutes before all the children had made friends. This let me concentrate on the day's filming.

The effort put into the preparation of the ceremonial offerings was remarkable. The women spent all morning building towers of fruit and weaving beautiful creations from palm leaves.

I was cooking with the men, which was a nice change, as a lot of the cooking in this series has been with the women. I discovered that many of the Balinese men work in local restaurants as chefs. I found this refreshing. They were really organised, which was just as well because the number of different ingredients in each recipe seemed endless. But the flavours of the food were complex and very well-balanced. I was hoping they’d bring out a food processor to grind all the herbs and spices but I found myself in charge of the mortar and pestle in more than one of the recipes. I hadn’t worked that hard in a long time!

After all the cooking was done, it was time for everyone to dress up in national costume for the ceremony. It was then I discovered that they had brought costumes for my family to wear. Kadek had brought in a beautiful outfit for my wife, Jo, and they even had outfits for the children.

I thought I had escaped dressing up, but Ode had organised with Yang Jing to give me a Balinese sarong with a belt that belonged to his great grandmother and was more than 100 years old - very cool.

Everyone looked gorgeous in the outfits. The colourful shrines were amazing and the ceremony began. Sitting on the ground with my family listening to the gamelan music and watching the Balinese dancers, I knew I was in a very special place.

My Family Feast airs  Thursdays at 8:30pm on Food Network, then on SBS On Demand.