Archives: Malaysia International Gourmet Festival 2015 (01-31 October 2015)

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Light in the Dark
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The name of this multi award-winning Italian restaurant comprises two parts: ‘Nero’, meaning dark, and ‘vivo’ meaning light. As the fading rays of the sun melted into the enveloping gloom of advancing twilight, Nerovivo shone like a beacon in the darkness as it played host to a score of high society guests for the MIGF Publicity Dinner held that night.

Romance is a term that is just about synonymous with all things Italian, and there was certainly a touch of dreamy delight in the air with fresh rose petals artistically strewn upon the two long tables neatly set out in an intimate nook for the diners. Small tealights glowed with starlike brilliance from within prismatic crystal holders, the light catching and reflecting off the wine glasses and silverware.

Rocio Beltran, H E Christophe Ceska, Aleksandra Ceska, Yolanda Velasquez and James Beltran

Upbeat Italian music set the mood for a relaxing time among friends as the guests mixed about freely around the foyer and bar, toting glasses of rose pink Rosa Nero in their hands – a sweetly light concoction of gin, vodka, tequila, rum, pineapple and pink guava created specially by the bartenders for the MIGF diners. Plates of tasty canapes sat appetisingly on the woodtop bar and wove amongst the crowd upon the palms of black-clad servers, inviting guests to indulge in a snack before the main event.

Tunku Naquiyuddin, Ravendran Sockanathan, Tunku Nurul Hayati and Dato' Jeffrey Lim

Guests greeted each other and chattered gaily like old friends, even though it was a first meeting for some – a growing camaraderie that was further enhanced as MIGF Organising Chairman Dato’ Steve Day began a short but entertaining introduction of all the guests present. Notable names included the Festival Royal Patron, Y.A.M Tunku Naquiyuddin ibni Tuanku Ja’afar Tunku Laxamana Negeri Sembilan with wife Y.M Tunku Nurul Hayati binti Tunku Bahador; Festival Advisory Committee member YM Tunku Mohamed Alauddin bin Tunku Naquiyuddin; Ambassador of Austria, H.E. Christophe Ceska and wife Aleksandra Ceska; President of the Kechara Soup Kitchen, YBhg Dato’ Ruby Khong; General Manager of Avenue K, Sue Wang; and Group Managing Director of the Motorex Group of Companies, Dato’ Jeffrey Lim.

Dato' Jeffrey Lim, Tunku Mohamed Alauddin and Peter Ong

Vida Sockanathan, Ravendran Sockanathan, Yap Teak Sing and Shawna Yap

Nerovivo’s Festival Menu this year is one close to the heart of Chef Michele Cuozzo, drawing heavily from the Mediterranean diet that he lived on while growing up in the mountains – one with less meat but an abundance of fresh vegetables, cheese, and fish. According to him, buffalo mozzarella in particular was a delicacy much-loved by the locals as they produced some of the world’s best; as the MIGF diners sat down in eager anticipation of their dinner, little did they know that many of them would soon follow suit.

Buffalo Mozzarella, Smoked Tuna Carpaccio

“The menu is inspired by where I come from,” said the Italian maestro. “This is almost the food that I was eating when I was young.” His trip down memory lane began with a starter of smoked tuna carpaccio with buffalo mozzarella, delicate yet flavourful and paired with a delicious Prosecco Spumante that awakened the taste buds. Hot on its heels came one of the hallmarks of Italian cuisine – pizza! Two types were served, fresh from the wood-fire oven and prepared with the renowned skill of Nerovivo’s chefs.

Chef Michele Cuozzo working his magic in the kitchen

With a combination of tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella cheese and basil, the Pizza Bufalina was the unquestionable winner for H.E. Christophe Ceska. “Everything was good – the quality of the pizza was excellent, the mozzarella was great, the dough was excellent, and the tomato sauce? Super. It was the best pizza I’ve ever [eaten] in one year in Kuala Lumpur.”

Pizza Bufalina - Tomato Sauce, Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil

Pizza Caprese - Buffalo Mozzarella, Roman Tomato, Grana Padano, Oregano, Basil

Deputy Chairman of Melewar Holdings Sdn Bhd, James Beltran, heartily agreed. “Absolutely phenomenal. I think pizza here outside of Italy is probably the best I’ve tasted.”

Black and Smith bringing some red-hot action to the floor

The highlight of the night, however, came shortly before the main course of pasta was served. Without warning, the lights were dimmed and the “Firemen” were summoned. On restaurant manager Hafir Shafiai’s cue, assistant manager Haffizan Zainudin – simply known as ‘Black’ – and his colleague Smith each struck a pose and breathed a torrent of fire into the air: not once, not twice, but three times in total to the delight of the surprised diners as blue-yellow flames danced in spirited accompaniment upon the wooden bartop. What a red-hot spectacle!

 Homemade Pasta, Seafood  Italian Risotto, Smoked Fillet of Grouper


The show certainly whetted everyone’s appetites for more and Nerovivo duly delivered with the two main and final courses for the night: pasta. The Italian risotto with smoked fillet of grouper was of particular note with Chef Michele personally instructing everyone on the proper way to enjoy the dish – by breaking the semolina-encrusted egg yolk atop the risotto and slowly allowing the golden yolk to drizzle onto the grains, creating a rich texture that was heaven in your mouth.

Tunku Naquiyuddin giving his closing speech

In his closing speech, Tunku Naquiyuddin perhaps best summed up the feelings of all when he said: “I’ve always looked forward to a Nerovivo dinner – in the last 14 years I don’t think I’ve missed a Nerovivo dinner and I must say that Chef, you have lived up to your reputation. My wife reminded me that whenever we have dinner at home, we only have four mains and here you have so many people – no wonder you can come up with such a magnifico (menu)! A great tour of gastronomy and we really appreciate it.”

Dato' Ruby Khong, Vida Sockanathan, Yolanda Velasquez and Sue Wang

The Nerovivo Festival Menu is priced at RM250++ per person with wine and RM150++ per person without wine.