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Chock-full Of Champions
The 12th Malaysia International Gourmet Festival tips its chef’s hat to all 28 participating restaurants
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Sunway Lagoon, 8th November – Cravings were quenched and senses sent soaring after the final, flavoursome course of the 12th Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) was served. Following a mesmerizing month of gustatory gratification, gourmands nationwide unanimously declared all 28 participating restaurants of the epicurean extravaganza ‘the apple of their eye’. Festival foodies were floored by the dining experience conjured up by each fine-dining establishment – from cataclysmic cuisine to arresting ambience, from outrageous offers to solicitous service – so much so that ‘cherry-picking’ their favourites from among the 28 was a proposition ‘difficult to swallow’.

Their sentiments were shared by none other than the MIGF Maestro himself, Organising Chairman, Dato’ Steve Day. “The standards at this year’s MIGF were absolutely amazing. Quite frankly, if it was up to me alone, everyone would get a Golden Cauldron,” said Dato’ Steve, who had first ‘cooked up’ the idea of the festival, which is now the region’s longest-running and most prestigious gourmet event and competition of its kind.

But Dato’ Steve was NOT alone in his wistful judgment – in acute agreement with him was the crowd of culinary connoisseurs whose trying task it was to vote for MIGF standouts in different categories. (The Judges’ Choice awards were decided on by the Festival Committee at the Gala Launch; the People’s Choice titles were picked by random VIP guests at the Gala Launch; Taste MIGF winners were chosen based on Taste Token sales; and the Festival Diners’ Choice accolades were apportioned based on the tally of scores awarded by MIGF Publicity diners). The wide and almost equal scattering of trophies lavished upon all 28 restaurants during the rapturous Grand Finale was ‘taste-ament’ to the fact.


The Olive’s Chef Daniel Sheen, Congeniality Chef

Devouring MIGF awards left and right were the consummate contenders for the Golden Cauldron, awarded to the Most Outstanding Restaurant of the Festival. The awesome foursome finalists for this honour included a brace of classical French restaurants: the delectable Cuisine Gourmet by Nathalie, and The Royale Chulan KL’s luscious L’Heritage. The Club Saujana Resort’s toothsome The Restaurant – the standard-bearer for fine European cuisine – was another formidable contender. But seducing the judges the most, if only by a whisker, was Maxims Genting’s mouthwatering The Olive – a Western Continental supremo whose wildly-novel recipes, artfully-innovative presentation, chic and sophisticated ambience and flawless service left diners craving multiple dish helpings. All-in-all, The Olive took on a shade of ‘gold’ not only through its Golden Cauldron haul, but by snagging the Chef Congeniality award – won, for the second consecutive time, by highly-charismatic Australian Master Chef Daniel Sheen (considered quite a ‘dish’ by the ladies).


Deputy Director General of Tourism Malaysia, YBhg Dato’ Haji Azizan Noordin, presenting awards to GM of Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, John Autelitano.

Next on the platter of prestigious prizes was the Outstanding Festival Achievement Award – an accolade given to the individual or organisation whose contribution to the Festival went above and beyond the call of duty. Based on its superlative contribution this year, the scorching Sunway Group shone brightest – and can justifiably call itself the home of the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival. Sunway distinguished itself by playing host to all the major Festival events – the enthralling Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall opened its doors to the Media Launch; the majestic Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre was the venue for the Gala Launch and inaugural Taste MIGF; and the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach was the ‘splashy’ spot for the Grand Finale celebration.


MIGF Publicity diners at The Pomelo – Festival Diners’ Choice, Most Outstanding Dining Experience

In addition, Sunway’s participating restaurants – stars among MIGF’s constellation of 28 stars – also scooped up major distinctions. The Pomelo, for instance, was named the Festival Diners’ Choice for Most Outstanding Overall Dining Experience (Overall Winner), among a smorgasbord of other titles.


Five Sen5es, Judges’ & Diners’ Choice, Most Creative Dining Experience

Offering a buffet of flair, flourish and fancy, all 28 Festival restaurants formulated spectacular presentations of their fare, boldly entering the territories of the performing and visual arts in doing so. But The Westin KL’s Five Sen5es inched past its peers to clinch the award of Judges’ Choice and Festival Diners’ Choice for the Most Creative Dining Experience (Overall Winner), thanks to the truly singular, innovative and inimitable sensorial adventure it afforded its bedazzled diners. In the Judges’ Choice for Most Creative Festival Menu category, the uniquely avant-garde masterpieces of each dining establishment were both head-turners and palate-pleasers – but Cuisine Gourmet by Nathalie eked out the Overall Winner title with highly-original culinary curios, such as its visually and gustatorily-stunning dessert of Praline and Yuzu “Big Mac”, Crispy Nuts, Chocolate and Praline Sauce.

Dessert from Cuisine Gourmet by Nathalie, Judge’s Choice, Most Creative Menu West Lake Garden Chinese Restaurant, People’s Choice, Most Outstanding Entrée

Unveiled with a flourish, this year’s inaugural Taste MIGF provided the public a chance to sink their teeth into the Festival. For the first time ever, Malaysia’s legion of foodies was able to savour all 28 MIGF restaurants by purchasing Taste Tokens in exchange for tasting portions of ambrosial offerings in an aptly-named Theatre of Cuisines. The inescapable, bite-sized Thai & Chinese-fusion delicacies of Genting Highlands Resort’s Imperial Rama saw visitors making the highest number of beelines to its station, and the restaurant scooped up the Overall Winner’s award for Taste MIGF: Most Popular Restaurant.


The Genting Group’s station at the MIGF Gala Launch, Judges’ Choice, Most Creative Station

By the Grand Finale’s awards presentation’s glittering conclusion, each and every MIGF Master Chef and their team was bejeweled with and proudly brandishing Festival trophies – the ‘just desserts’ of their hard work throughout the month-long event. But the awards were just one of several ingredients of MIGF.

Makan Kitchen, Judge’s Choice, Best Value Menu Grill 582, Festival Diners’ Choice, Most Outstanding Entrée

 

“It’s important to bear in mind, that the awards are just a small part of the entire Festival. The main benefit of MIGF is creating publicity and raising awareness for the participating restaurants and their Master Chefs. In this respect, every Festival restaurant is a winner”, said Dato’ Steve.

Indeed, the promotional benefits for each MIGF restaurant are worth a heartburn-inducing RM500,000, involving TV commercials aired on Astro and Vision Four, as well as billboard, print and digital media ads. And this year, the official MIGF website (www.migf.com) registered close to 5 million hits both locally and worldwide. Post-event coverage by a rising souffle of information outlets, meanwhile – from tabloids to popular blogs – is also extensive, and ensures that the public enjoys a lingering taste of the Festival long after its Grand Finale.


The MIGF Gala Launch

“With MIGF, restaurants now have a fabulous platform on which to build upon and focus their marketing efforts for the year ahead”, said Dato’ Steve. “To maintain this advantage, however, it is important to keep the ball rolling by building on MIGF’s success to pull in business”, he added.

To wit – by simply being an ingredient in the successful MIGF recipe, the 28 Festival restaurants are now universally regarded as the crème de la crème, the cherry on top, the main course of Malaysia’s flavourful fine-dining scene.