Now into its 11th successive year, the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival made its debut in September 2001 with an intrepid band of 13 restaurants from Kuala Lumpur taking part in the inaugural KL International Gourmet Festival (KLIGF).
From the onset it was obvious that fine dining restaurants could not flourish on tourist receipts alone. What was needed before anything else was a strong base of local diners. However, a decade ago most Malaysians perceived fine dining restaurants as being poor value, high priced and stifling. While they enjoyed eating out, their overriding preference was for the traditional no frills restaurants and hawker stalls.
It became clear that to popularise fine dining, it had to appeal to a lot more people. It needed to provide better value and be better marketed with an emphasis that paying the extra for a pleasant fine dining ambience, high quality cuisine and first class service was well worth it. And to attract new diners the whole experience had to be far less intimidating, more relaxed and a lot more pleasurable. These observations were what shaped the Organiser’s approach to the Festival.
That maiden Festival in 2001 was initiated in response to the industry's need for zest and a rejuvenation of the then very obscure fine dining scene. Though Malaysians have always enjoyed dining out, their overriding preference was for traditional restaurants and hawker food. Only a few fine dining restaurants existed for the simple reason there was not a large enough base of local diners to draw upon.
Each year from then on, during the Festival, restaurants put aside their competitive differences, share contacts and come together in a collective marketing effort. Rather than bringing in chefs from abroad for a one-off food promotion, the Festival’s unwavering focus is on the skills of the world-class chefs already residing in Malaysia and the all-year-round quality of our cuisine and restaurants.