Cook up a storm | Aqua Expeditions

Cook Up a Storm with Chef Benjamin Cross

4 years ago Dining, Indonesia

Australian Chef Benjamin Cross has built an impressive career over two decades, becoming one of Indonesia’s most prominent culinary professional and successful restaurateur. His restaurants in Bali are ranked as some of the best on the island and with his new role as consulting chef for the Aqua Blu luxury expedition yacht, he brings world-class dining to the seas of East Indonesia.


After working for some of the best icons of Australian cuisine, he excelled in the USA and Spain at Tom Colicchio’s Craft in New York, Seamus Mullen’s Tertullia New York, and Santi Santamaria’s three-Michelin star restaurant Can Fabes in Sant Celoni, Catalonia. The Balinese chapter in his life began as he fell in love with its people, culture, and gastronomy on a serendipitous stopover on his way to Barcelona, motivating him to relocate to this beautiful island in 2008, which has since become a food mecca in Asia.



In 2013, he set up Mejekawi, a fine-dining concept under the legendary Beach Club Ku De Ta, with an innovative twist on traditional cuisine focused on unique ingredients and fresh locally-sourced produce. Five years later, Ben ventured out on his own to open Hank’s Pizza & Liquor, Fishbone Local, Mason, and The Back Room with BHG (Brett Hospitality Group) as Co-Owner and Executive Chef.


He characteristically describes his culinary style as ‘simple’ and ‘unpretentious’, but it is more apt to describe it as pared back to essentials, distilling a dish into its purest form. That does not mean a lack of creativity – in fact, with a focus on top-quality ingredients, Chef Benjamin Cross has become an expert in handling them to preserve their distinct qualities, allowing each element to stand out for themselves.


Chef Ben Cross draws inspiration from Indonesian, European, and Mediterranean cuisines which he has acquired from traveling and living abroad. As with most Aqua Expeditions’ guests, he loves to immerse himself in culture while traveling, and his preferred way to do so is by tasting the local cuisine and discovering their unique produce.


As Consulting Chef for the Aqua Blu, Ben Cross has crafted over 160 recipes to incorporate a variety of Indonesia’s spices and flavors, allowing diners to go on a culinary journey of the region. Some highlights to look forward to includes 48-hour beef short rib rendang, Balinese suckling pig with bumbu Bali (Balinese spices), and organic Javanese prawns marinated in fragrant oil and lime.


Left: Organic Javanese prawns with fragrant oil and lime, Right: 24-hour Slow-roasted lamb shoulder


For the second episode of our #CookingWithAqua Masterclass Series, we bring you Ben Cross’ philosophy of uncomplicated food to your table, where he will guide viewers on how to prepare two of his personal favorites:

  • Sweetcorn fritters: Perfect for any time, as a side dish or a crispy savory snack to comfort your days.
  • Seared barramundi with sambal dabu-dabu: Asian sea bass with a fresh and fiery chili sauce from Manado, the provincial capital of Indonesia’s North Sulawesi. Packed with flavor and deliciousness, this exotic dish will transport you to the remote islands of Indonesia.


Food aboard the Aqua Blu is served family-style, authentic to the region’s traditions. Although social distancing is currently keeping us apart, why not make it an occasion and invite your friends and family to join the Premiere and simultaneously enjoy an online cooking masterclass? Or you can even host your very own virtual dinner party and surprise them with a new exotic addition to your culinary repertoire!


With a short list of simple ingredients and the guidance of our experienced chef, this is the perfect opportunity to make use of the extra time on your hands and learn something new. Download the ingredients list below and get ready to join us for the Premiere on Facebook, Friday 1st May at 12pm ET / 6pm CET.


Hope to see you there!