Important people in Bali: Janet DeNeefe


Janet DeNeefe, the ‘Queen of Ubud’, as some people have called her, is the owner of Casa Luna and Indus restaurants, author of Fragrant Rice, and creator of the Ubud Readers & Writers Festival. Her connection with Bali goes way back.

When Janet De Neefe stepped off the plane in Bali in 1974, she felt an immediate connection to this island paradise. She fell in love with a Balinese and made a new life there. Janet and her husband run two of the most successful restaurants in Bali. Fragrant Rice offers insights into the ancient myths and rituals still alive in Bali, and passes on delicious recipes handed down through generations of her husband’s family.

The book originally started out as a cookbook, but that simple desire turned into a personal experience of one woman’s journey into a new and magical way of life with food as its essential ingredient. With a forward reflecting on the impact of the Bali bombing included, Fragrant Rice is is full of personal anecdotes and detailed descriptions that capture the authors enthusiasm with her adoptive culture and the extraordinary everyday life that is steeped with ancient myths, rituals and spirituality. The detailed recipes (many of which are handed down from generations of her Balinese husband’s family) and the understanding of flavours and spices are uniquely documented in this book. Janet De Neefe tells the story of her journey into the heart of Bali, from meeting her husband, to the beginnings of their Balinese cookery school, the birth of their four children and more. Hat’s off to her, is what I say. she came to Bali and jumped in with both feet, everything she has touched has turned to gold, which I’m sure was the result of a lot of hard work.

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Both Janet’s restaurants, Casa Luna and Indus are very good, but her crowning achievement was the creation of the Ubud Readers & Writers Festival. This annual event draws authors from around the world, as well as Indonesia and Bali.

Ubud Readers & Writers Festival 2006, starts today, September 28th.

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