Meet the locals – Thomas Tirta from Nebula Cafe

We love our food here at The Dose, so were very excited to pick the brain of the amazing Executive Chef of Nebula cafe: Thomas Tirta. He’s a busy man, overseeing not one but THREE kitchens and menus for the Nebula Cafe group (check out their Instagram to see some of Thomas’ amazing creations). Read on for this culinary insider’s tips. 

Thomas Tirta Nebula

How did you end up working as a chef in Bali?

I have now lived in Bali for almost a year, but my cooking intuition was born when I was study and working in Sydney. After I finished my studies, I finally came back to Indonesia. It was a difficult decision to return. However, it was a dream and a blessing at the same time to have the chance going back to my mother country. Since coming back and living in Bali, I have been with Nebula.

Being an Executive Chef at Nebula is not just a job and making delicious foods. Nebula has given me the opportunity to make my vision become a reality. I can help talented young people in Indonesia and give them a chance to learn more not just about cooking, but how to a better person and think about food on a higher level. Just like Nebula vision: “we pursue the mission of changing the world through the power of food.”

Thomas Tirta Nebula

You’re originally from Surabaya, what are some sites people might not have visited in East Java that we should get to?

Surabaya (the second largest city in Indonesia) is on the Northeastern shore of Java and is well-known for its wide range of traditional foods. It is also home to some of the most famous East Javanese dishes, such as beef spare ribs with sambal terasi, soto ayam and spicy yellow chicken soup, both of which capture the flavor of this tropical island.

For people trying Nebula Cafe for the first time, what’s a “must try” dish?

The burgers & anything from our breakfast menu.

As a chef, apart from Nebula (obviously), what other Bali cafes or restaurants have food you highly rate?

Un’s Restaurant in Kuta

Thomas Tirta Nebula

You spent some time working in Sydney, are there any places there doing Indonesian food well?

I have known Indonesian people who have become Australian Citizens and then open a culinary business in Sydney. Some good ones are Teras Bali, Shalom, Ayam Goreng 99 and New Orient Pempek Clovelly.

How would you spend your perfect “Bali day”?

I like to spend time reading a book and get out to new culinary places in Bali, not just to see the what’s new, but also hangout with friends.

What is your go-to weekend getaway on (or around) the island?

Nusa Ceningan & Gili Meno (untouched island)

Thomas Tirta Nebula

Are there any foods you miss from Surabaya that you get visitors from home to bring?

– Sambal Udang Bu Rudy
– Nasi Ayam Pak Djo
– Rendang Ayam – my mom Recipe

Your five must follow Instagram accounts?

Grant Achatz
Mike Bagale
Albert Adria
Bad Bobby Reid
Erik Fatono

Thomas Tirta Nebula

Local knowledge quick list:

Best coffee: Nebula Petitenget, Revolver, Pison and Hungry Bird

Best brunch: Nebula Kuta, Shelter Cafe

Best sunset spot: Karma Kandara Beach, The Rock Ayana, Legian Beach

Best warung: Warung Kolega, Warung Podjok, Warung Adyana, Warung Ibu Weti

Best massage: REBORN