Archives: Malaysia International Gourmet Festival 2014 (01-31 October 2014)

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Bunga Emas
Festival Dining
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Seasonal Tastes
The Island Retreat
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The Westin Langkawi boasts breathtaking panoramas over the Andaman Sea. The venue for the Festival dinner, “The Float” is accessible by a long pier as seen top right.

“Seeing the Festival spirit, teamwork and camaraderie in action is what makes MIGF so wonderful” – a phrase oft repeated by Organising Chairman Dato’ Steve Day but which was perhaps best illustrated by The Westin Langkawi, where guests were whisked away on an unforgettable island experience in a place often referred to as ‘The Caribbean of the East’.

Surrounded by lush verdant jungle, the luxury property is one of Langkawi's most exquisite resorts

An evening chock full of surprises from beginning to end, diners witnessed a highly choreographed sequence of events that entailed everything from grand helicopter entrances to explosive firework displays and quite literally dinner on the water, hosted by the hotel’s flagship outlet and Festival restaurant, Seasonal Tastes.

Seasonal Tastes offers international cuisine while focusing on health-enhancing superfoods

The evening’s feast, however, did not take place within the contemporary environs of the restaurant itself, a space bathed in natural light streaming in from glass walls, but on an idyllic venue perched at the end of a private jetty that strikes some 100 metres into the Andaman Sea. It was here on ‘The Float’ that diners were immersed into a utopic culinary experience as they dined on Chef Black’s (aka Chef Syahir Ismail) Festival Menu, surrounded by undulating waves and the fresh ocean breeze.

The island dining group comprised invitees from KL, including Datuk Redzuawan Ismail aka Chef Wan, Tuan Haji Johari Abas, Dr Beh Chor Khim, as well as Langkawi residents such as Oh Kean Shen, Wicky Sundram, YK Lim and Rosidi Daud. Sitting in from the hotel side were GM Michael Schlueter, Executive Assistant Manager Rajiv Kapoor, Director of Sales and Marketing Sherrilyn Charles and Director of Rooms Effendi Ramley. 

Maria Schlueter and Michael Schlueter

Guests pre-dinner mingling - Rajiv Kapoor, Rosidi Daud, Tuan Haji Johari Abas, Nupur Kapoor and Rino Cucarano 

Pre-Dinner Revelry

This year’s Festival theme of ‘Red Hot Chefs’ was ubiquitous right from the start, with guests gathering in the lobby where they were greeted by a sand strewn table flaunting a range of bloodshot cocktails, each with varying degree of spiciness: there was the citric tequila kick of ‘Bull’s Bloody Mary’, the gin-based zing of ‘Spice of Bali’, the lager-laden brew of ‘Bloody Fizzy Mary’, the peppery punt of ‘Maria Mexicana’ and the wholesome celery infused ‘Innocent Mary’. It was a promising, and fiery start, to the evening, but guests had scarce idea of the adventures that lay ahead.

Sizzling spicy cocktails on a sandy table

Bull's Bloody Mary - Premium vodka and tequila based bloody mary with a spicy citrus flavour 

Oh Kean Shen and Martin Jones Maria Schlueter and Wicky Sundram 


A fleet of BMW and Mini Coupers promptly appeared at the entrance of the hotel, staff ushering guests in to the vehicles that ferried them to an outdoor garden setting bordering the sprawling five-bedroom villa mere minutes away. A red carpet led the way to a stage where four-piece band ‘The Talents’, clad in crimson MIGF outfits, played laidback lounge music against a glory board featuring Festival Chef Black. Cocktail tables and a gorgeous spread of canapés with a make-shift volcano stood to one side, ‘Red hot lava’ trickling down its side much to the amusement of guests.

A convoy of Mini Coopers and BMWs en route to the next destination

Datuk Redzuawan Isamil aka Chef Wan, Datin Su Wai Fun and Oh Kean Shen admiring the volcanic spread 

Party host Joseph Wong introduced hotel GM Michael Schleuter next, who took to the stage to welcome guests, recounting a humorous anecdote on the terrible weather conditions preceding the event, and the luck with which they were blessed to have clear skies for the dinner. “This is our second year hosting an MIGF dinner and I do it for two reasons. First because you can meet new people which you would otherwise not have the chance to meet, and second because it gives my team a chance to do something extraordinary, and extraordinary is what we are trying to deliver tonight,” he said with words that rang truer than anyone could have imagined.

Michael Schlueter on stage with The Talents in the background

Guests were then ‘shaken up’ as Seasonal Tastes Restaurant Manager Luxman Thapa walked them through an interactive cocktail session using the jars of vodka, cranberry, Cointreau and green tinged crystal sugar on the tables. In no time, guests were enjoying their self-made Cosmopolitans, toasting the fun thus far.

Mixologist sifu Luxman Thapa Christian Metzner, Martin Jones and Wicky Sundram getting into the spirit of things and mix up a Cosmo


Soon Poh Lin, Dr Beh Chor Khim and Chef Wan 

Airborne Arrival

Over a blood red sunset sky came the thundering sounds of a helicopter, looping around and landing beside the startled group who watched as a cheerleading team, with pom poms in hand and wearing red MIGF uniforms, emerged from the chopper to launch into a dance number while a figure in robes stood behind. Dressed as a boxer about to enter the ring, Chef Black, accompanied by the sound of Rocky’s “Eye of the Tiger”, literally danced his way across the lawn to greet the guests. Fireworks added a further spectacular touch to his arrival.

Hoovering in from above, Chef Black's aerial entrance was nothing short of awesome

With escorts in tow, Chef Black was every bit the culinary Sylvester Stalone 

Red hot sunglasses were distributed to all guests, who posed in front of the stationary helicopter for a group shot with Chef Black and the cheerleading team. With this custom complete, guests were led to The Float where dinner was served.

Wearing red hot shades, the group pose for a pre-dinner photograph before the helicopter 

Banquet On The Float

Red lit trees on a winding path guided the way through the grounds to a long pier that led to the enchanted Float. As guests took their seats they heard the mellow tones of a live saxophonist blending with the lilting sound of the Andaman Sea. Beautiful drapes provided picturesque frames for the surrounding islands and glinting shoreline beyond. It truly was a magical atmosphere

A spellbinding trail led guests down to the jetty

The Float is the ideal venue for intimate get togethers, romantic dinners or an unforgettable Festival dinner

Out came the food, introduced by Chef Black with F&B Manager Lorenz Annasohn giving in depth explanations on the wine pairing for each course. Incredibly, a small kitchen was erected on The Float itself with the Seasonal Tastes team, including Executive Sous Chef Arthur Christie, working in the limited space to create the evening’s menu.

Bathed in soft red lighting, The Float is a magical chalet on the sea

Chef Black’s menu began with ‘Combination of the Blue Sea’, consisting of salmon sushi, breaded oyster and pan seared tuna, giving guests a taste of the environment in which they found themselves. A broccoli soup, creatively served in an herbed bread bowl, came out next, garnished with almond flakes that provided a crunch to the creamy soup. The lid of each bread bowl featured an MIGF sticker with Chef Black emblazoned on it – a minute detail that added a touch of charm to the course.

 A chef plates up the seafood starter 'Combination of the Blue Sea' - Double Salmon Sushi Balls with Roe, Breaded Oyster on Spinach, Parmesan Béarnaise and Pan Seared Tuna with Wasabi Mayo on Cucumber Salad Lumpfish Caviar


Chef Black and Chef Arthur preparing the broccoli soup, served in a herbed bread bowl

A passion fruit sorbet, served in a glass bowl with plumes of dry ice smoke billowing out, cleared palates and paved the way for the main course – an artistically presented platter with pan seared lamb loin and marbled wagyu striploin. The meal then featured a musical interlude as Johari Abas crooned out a rendition of Getaran Jiwa, a famous Malay song by P.Ramlee, triggering a round of applause from the appreciative diners.

Broccoli Cream with Almond Flakes in Herbed Bread Bowl Pan Seared and Slow Cooked Lamb Loin, Marbled Wagyu Striploin,
Wild Garlic and Mint Puree, Port Wine Infused Jus, Crispy Cajun Fried Potato Balls, Baby Asparagus and Miniature Leaves


Johari Abas serenading guests with an impassioned performance of Getaran Jiwa

Dessert soon arrived – a ‘Tropical Flora’ of chocolate mille-feuille o roselle mousse and chrysanthemum tea ice cream, underlined with a saccharine dessert wine that put a perfect finale to the island spread.

'Tropical Flora' - Chocolate Mille-feuille of Roselle Mousse and Chrysanthemum Tea Ice Cream

The dinner was a spectacular success, giving rise to a series of appreciative closing speeches, starting with Martin Jones, VP, F&B Asia Pacific of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, who had flown in to Langkawi via Penang especially for the occasion. Next was the well-travelled gourmand, Johari Abas who also sang a beautiful rendition of P.Ramlee’s Getaran Jiwa; and then it was the turn of the inimitable Chef Wan to thank everyone for a superb job well done.

Chef Wan waxing lyrical on the events of the enchanted evening

“I’m very proud to be here today, because for me it’s not only about being part of a special occasion, but experiencing the incredible service from everyone involved, imparting these wonderful memories. Being here makes me feel like I’m part of a royal family with the special treatment received,” said Chef Wan, a sentiment that everyone agreed with. 

At dinner’s end, Michael Schlueter stood proudly before his team, passionately expounding on the efforts that went into the events of the night and applauding his team for what was truly an incredible evening. All the guests signalled their hearty approval with loud cheering and applause!

A Magical Closing

The night was far from over, and as guests strolled down the pier towards the waiting fleet of cars ready to ferry them back to the hotel, a striking fireworks show suddenly exploded in the distance. Diners halted in their steps to soak up the marvellous display, snapping pics as the hotel was lit up in a brilliant shower of flashing lights.

The Westin Langkawi lit up under a brilliant display of fireworks

The night culminated back in the hotel, guests enjoying nightcaps and cigars in the Breeze Bar with The Talents providing a set of upbeat tunes for the jovial group to dance the night away to.

The team that made it all possible. Well done guys!