Wednesday, October 30, 2013



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The end of October traditionally heralds the start of the monsoon season and on a particularly wet and blustery night, a group of diners set forth to battle the elements and traditional early evening traffic to reach the delightful Prego at The Westin Kuala Lumpur. Principal among the party was the affable and charming Minister of Tourism and Culture, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri who was looking forward to experiencing the homely Italian cooking of Bologna native, Chef Samuele Alvisi. Other guests included Chairman of the Vision Four Media Group, Tunku Shahabuddin Tunku Besar Burhanuddin; Executive Director of Antah Healthcare Group, Tunku Mohamed Alauddin bin Tunku Naquiyuddin and wife Che' Puan Putri Badrinise Zakuan-Alauddin as well as MIGF Advisory Committee Members -TV Celebrity Chef, Datuk Chef Wan and fashion empress and President of The Melium Group, Dato’ Farah Khan to name but a few.

A rustic interior punctuated by the impressive wod-fired oven
Guests arrived at the hotel and headed for the first floor for canapés and cocktails and to discover the thought provoking artwork of Charlotte Donvang and Ahsan Qureshi .

Minister of Tourism and Culture, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri discussing the exhibition with Dato' Farah Khan, Chef Wan and artist Charlotte Donvang
Canapés included pumpkin ravioli, mozzarella and caviar on French bread, succulent pieces of beef with bitter chocolate sauce and to wash it down, flowery and fragrant Floral 1Malaysian cocktails.

Mozzarella and Caviar on French Bread

Floral 1Malaysian Cocktails
After a short and witty introduction by the Westin KL General Manager, Hratch Khatchanian, the group paused for a photograph before making their way to Prego where an elegant banquet table awaited them on the mezzanine floor.

Avanti - The Minister leads the way to Prego

A long table situated on the first floor with views over the open plan kitchen below
The first course out of Chef Samuele Alvisi' kitchen was his carpaccio tartufato, comprising thick cut beef carpaccio accompanied with home cured egg, black truffle and capers. Tunku Dato’ Seri Shahabuddin commended the savoury dish, saying "I loved the carpaccio! It was not too thick and was a lot better than many I had recently in Tuscany!"

Carpaccio Tartufato - Thicker Beef Carpaccio, with Home Cured Egg, Fried Capers, Anchovy Cream, Mustard Shallot dressing and Black Truffle
Next up was the soup course, a seductively rich onion soup laced with port wine reduction topped off with cheese espuma. Ms. Lim Wei Ling, owner of the illustrious Wei-Ling Gallery, thoroughly enjoyed the dish, noting that "…it had a lovely smoky flavour thanks to the caramelised onions. If I could order a second bowl I would".

Zuppa di Cipolle com Spuma di Formaggio e Riduzione al Porto - Onion Soup with Cheese Espuma and Port Wine reduction

Mr Yohan Rajan, Ms Lim Wei Ling and Dato' Farah Khan
Smoked pasta is a rarity in KL and so the entree of smoked spaghetti with fresh yabis and burratta cheese sauce came as a pleasant surprise and an exceptional way to pave the road for the main course. The Minister of Tourism and Culture, obviously enjoyed every bite, "the spaghetti was really different to anything I have ever tasted before, a really unique, tasty dish".

Chef Alvisi in action

Spaghetti Affumicati con Gamberi di Fiume e Crema di Burrata - Home made Smoked Spaghetti with Fresh Yabis and Burrata Cheese Sauce
Finally the main culinary event, a succulent piece of cod plated with green pea sauce, potato, mushroom and shellfish reduction. Raving about the dish was Chef Wan, who was eager to heap further praise on Chef Samuele's sterling work and wholeheartedly agreed the dish was "superb".

Merluzzo con Creama di Piselli, Patate e Funghi - Cod Fish with Green Peas Sauce Potato Mushroom and Shellfish reduction
Prego means 'you're welcome' in Italian and few things are more welcome, and delicious, than Chef Samuele's tiramisu, presented with flair in a special tulip cup. Firuz Umemoto, said about the delicious dessert, "it was incredibly light and a great way to round off a great meal".

Tiramisu in Tuille - Tiramisu Mousse served in Tulip Cup
An exclusive private performance by none other than former lead singer of The Platters, Donnie Ray Radford, stood as one of the highlights of the meal as he belted out the hits, Only You and Heaven & Earth.

Donnie Ray Radford crooning out the motown classics

Mr Johan Indot, Hratch Khatchanian and Tunku Shahabuddin enjoying the show
Feeling satisfyingly replete, a few of the diners including Ms. Ming Ho, General Manager of Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia – Sunway, and Director of Micron Steel Bhd, Dato’ Jaffar Indot, were bowled over by the cuisine on offer, vowing to return soon after to try more of the menu.

Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia - Sunway General Manager Ms Ming Ho found the menu enticing
The illustrious Chef Wan, a sometimes fierce food critic, was full of more praise for the restaurant and its food, “The soup was incredible and the Carpaccio was superb. I am always a big fan of this restaurant and they did a great job”.

Chef Wan praising Chef Samuel and his team for an exquisite meal
The last comments of the evening were left to the relaxed and jovial Minister of Tourism and Culture Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri who was full of praise for the young chefs supporting Chef Samuele: “I have seen for myself what MIGF is all about, I have realised that its not just about tourism, when I see young Malaysian chefs in the kitchen, it dawns on me that it is more than just the cuisine, it’s also about training our chefs to cook with passion and making them feel proud”.

The Minister, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri, sharing his thoughts on the evening
Having dined on the fantastic, yet classical, food prepared by Chef Samuele and his team, the happy diners headed for home at the end of what was the perfect Italian evening.
The Full Festival Menu is priced at RM330++ with wine and just RM190++ without wine. 

Where: The Westin Kuala Lumpur, 199 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100
Cuisine: Italian
Tel: 03 2773 8338

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