AYA Restaurant – Street Art Gallery
Chef Marco Cueva is a Peruvian chef with an effervescent love of cooking who is part owner of new restaurant AYA; a temple for the senses, with Peruvian fusion cuisine, international beats and eclectic global street art bringing a new level of modern street culture to the ever-cool Seminyak dining scene in Bali.
Marco Cueva’s culinary journey began in his native Lima, Peru and after graduating from culinary college it was not long before he found himself embarking on the first of many international cooking adventures, from high-end hotels in Costa Rica to his first stint in Bali at the perennial favourite La Favella, before a stint at the Royal Hideaway Playaca Resort in Mexico. But a sense of unfinished business and a desire to bring great Peruvian cuisine made from fresh local ingredients to Bali has seen him return to the Island of the Gods.
“I really love the food in Bali, with such a diverse range of flavors and available fresh ingredients,” said Chef Marco. “I love a lot of spice and by marrying traditional Peruvian recipes with the amazing local ingredients, I am creating dishes with the best of both worlds. Our dishes at AYA are presented in a very creative and ‘fancy’ way, but when you taste them it is like home, like my mother and grandmother would make, or the street vendors in Lima. I want to educate people to the wonderful varieties of flavor in Peruvian cooking, the flavors I grew up with, but with my own modern twist because for me cooking is all about flavor, flavor and more flavor.”
At AYA, Chef Marco brings his love of Peruvian street food alive with the addition of fresh, Balinese produce sourced from local growers that gives an Indonesian twist; from the vegetables, herbs and spices, fish and chicken down to the edible flowers, grown from seeds he gave to the farmers himself. Only the beef is sourced from Australia.
There are influences from the indigenous Inca population and elements introduced by Asian immigrants, with a focus on Peruvian-Japanese (Nikkei) and Peruvian-Chinese (Chifa) fusion. Chef Marco creates a convivial and welcoming atmosphere through food that is casual and designed to be shared. He welcomes interaction with guests and is more than happy to describe the dishes and their provenance from his open kitchen as he creates them. The passion and joy he brings to creating great food is contagious and on display in every aspect of his craft.
“On the menu, we have everything; fish, meat, pasta, rice, saté, teppanyaki,” continued Chef Marco. “I want there to be something for absolutely everybody to enjoy, whether they are locals or tourists and when customers come to AYA they can choose to sit at the bar in front of me in the open kitchen and we can talk about the food and what they like. Then I make it and they are happy!”