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

In the late nineties, a series of light-hearted restaurant reviews – called ‘The Gourmet Club’ – appeared in Vision KL, the capital’s leading City Lifestyle Magazine. Selected fine dining restaurants were challenged to create “the most imaginative dining experience possible for a small, eclectic group of celebrity diners”. Seeing the immediate publicity, a number of restaurants approached Vision KL to see what could be done to create a long-term interest in fine dining. It is hard to imagine now, but little more than a decade ago there were barely a dozen international standard restaurants in KL – with most being loss leaders in 5-star hotels. To grow, fine dining had to appeal to a lot more people. Vision KL then brought in AsiaReach Events, a sister company within the Vision Four Media Group, with the idea of creating an annual gourmet festival.

A Unique Format
The team at AsiaReach Events decided on a unique format – a full Festival month during which each restaurant would serve its own specially-created Festival Menu at a special price along with a slew of special offers. Local resident chefs would be promoted as the stars of the show. Festival magazines and TV commercials would spread the message far and wide, while a glittering Gala Launch, to which the city’s influential movers and shakers would be invited, would provide widespread local and global publicity.

In September 2001, the inaugural KL Gourmet Festival (KLGF) made its debut with 13 restaurants participating. The unique set menu approach was an immediate hit – especially with diners trying new types of cuisine for the first time. The Festival sparked a lot of media interest and a greater appreciation of our locally-resident chefs. In 2003, KLGF became the KL International Gourmet Festival (KLIGF) and then in 2006, the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF), enabling restaurants from all over the country to participate

Over the years, the Festival has grown from strength to strength along with a newly-invigorated fine dining scene. Credit card companies developed dining programmes, and mini-festivals mirroring the Festival format sprang up throughout the country. Seeing all the publicity and business generated, more and more entrepreneurs have invested in the sector, creating an exciting array of new restaurants and a wider variety of local and international cuisines. More young people have been encouraged to enter the profession with local colleges and universities offering more comprehensive courses in the culinary arts to increased demand.

International recognition
With a healthy base of local diners firmly in place and an explosion in the number of fine dining restaurants, MIGF switched its focus to international marketing and attracting high-yield tourists, business travellers and MICE delegates. In 2007, MIGF was selected as one of the top 50 events for Visit Malaysia Year and won the coveted Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award for Marketing. Two years later, in 2009, MIGF was made a cornerstone of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture’s ‘Fabulous Food 1 Malaysia’ initiative.

The Festival proudly celebrated “10 Magical Years” in 2010. The Festival evolution continues. In 2013 a spectacular Festival preview event, Taste MIGF was introduced with Festival restaurants gathering in a specially created “Theatre of Cuisines” where food lovers could enjoy a “Super Gourmet Safari” buying tasting portions from Festival Restaurants using “Gourmet Dollars”. Cooking Classes and Lifestyle Workshops were also a feature. Entering Visit Malaysia year 2014, MIGF is top of the web rankings and presides over a fine dining scene that has grown almost ten-fold to encompass over 100 fine dining restaurants offering a globally diverse range of superb cuisines