SAVING THE BEST FOR THE LAST!
HOSTS WITH MOST--- Dato Steve Day, Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng and Datin Su Day at Putrajaya Marriott
Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng, group executive chairman of IOI Group and Kee Hua Chee with his bling gun buckle and dragon/phoenix necklace
Lee Yeow Seng, executive director of IOI Properties and youngest son of Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng
I CANNOT BELIEVE THE LAST MIGF DINNER IN KUALA LUMPUR ENDED LAST NIGHT AT MARRIOTT PUTRAJAYA! AFTER PARTAKING THE FINEST REPASTS MALAYSIA HAS TO OFFER FOR THE LAST 35 DAYS, I WAS LULLED INTO THE IMPRESSION THIS WOULD GO ON FOREVER AND I WOULD BE ENJOYING FINE CUISINES TILL KINGDOM COME!
But like they say, good things cannot last forever just as bad luck cannot afflict you permanently too!
Having eaten AND written about MIGF dinners circa 2013 I can safely swear on the Bible and Buddhist religious scripts Malaysian restaurants are on par with the best other overseas restaurants on Planet Earth as we revolve around the sun in this particular solar system.
I on behalf of all the scores of guests of MIGF founders and organisers Dato Steve Day and Datin Su Wai Fun thank this dynamic duo for their back-breaking work producing this food fest.
Malaysia International Gourmet Festival aka MIGF has put Malaysia on the radars of all international gourmets who almost all are wealthy travellers and are the sort of tourists most favoured by Malaysian Minister of Tourism Dato Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz. The Minister attended MIGF fine dinner at Prego at The Westin Kuala Lumpur and is on record applauding the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival which is no longer a babe in swaddling clothes since it is 13 years old and a strapping, hunky teenager!
Though MIGF is supported and approved by the Malaysian authorities, it remains a privately organised affair by Vision Four Media Group, the umbrella group owned by Dato Steve Day which includes Vision Four Productions, Vision Four Hotel Networks, Vision Four Multimedia, Vision KL magazine and AsiaReach Events the official organiser of MIGF. So a big Thank You also to all the busy 'ants' running all over the place at each restaurant, making sure the guests are comfortable and at the end of each evening, doling out the much anticipated group photographs taken during the guests' arrival.
Also a million delicious thanks to all the participating restaurants for delivering a movable feast at each MIGF dinner.
Each year, my fellow guests and I notice the food, service and ambiance keep going up a notch which augur well.
Many chefs working in Malaysia are mat salleh but as Dato Steve Day always pointed out at the end of each dinner, "All the Malaysian trainee cooks today must work hard as tomorrow you can be a Cool Chef running your own kitchen! And those in the service department can aspire to run your own restaurant since great food must be accompanied by superb service."
While each MIGF dinner was world class, it is like comparing an apple with an orange. The private room at Imperial Chakri Palace at Suria KLCC cannot be compared to the double storey Blu Med at MidValley or the high ceilinged Kelantan Delights at Subang Jaya or the 6,000 feet, high in the clouds Genting Club or Olive let alone the vast acreage of Putrajaya Marriott at IOI Resort City at Sepang Utara some 35 minutes from Kuala Lumpur.
At Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur we had dinner at Lai Po Heen and Mandarin Grill. At The Restaurant at Saujana Club, we ate in the main restaurant and enjoyed dessert by the garden pool. In Genting Grand hotel, we dined in Ltitude restaurant but enjoyed 3 courses from Imperial Rama.
But in terms of size, setting and spectacle, Putrajaya Marriott won hands and wok down! It was not just a dinner but a banquet as we traversed through 4 venues and restaurants with unexpected entertainment thrown in and flickering candles leading the way through purposely darkened corridors for maximum impact. I almost expected ghouls, ghosts and ghastly, gnarled gnomes to jump out from hidden corners since it was Halloween Night!
Upon entering the lobby, I was floored by its Mulu Cave proportions and well I should be since it is said to be the largest foyer in Southeast Asia and maybe Asia! You probably can do bungy jumping from the ceiling as it is so cavernous.
Fortunate guests were led literally up the garden path by staff waiting at the entrance to an enchanting garden patio where the most extravagant canapes awaited.
The venues were arranged by Putrajaya Marriott and even the staff from AsiaReach Events and Vision Four Media did not know the venues while we guests were perfectly contented to be led from one delightful haven to another in a merry-go-round.
We could hardly believe the canapes---so lavish and bountiful we had to be warned repeatedly not to over-eat as these were mere starters. On offer were Kamikaze Oyster Shooter, Smoked Duck with Fruit Glaze, Whitebait Fritters in Spicy Drizzle, Alaskan Crab Leg with Citrus Vinaigrette while the plonk was Laurent Perrier Champagne! These so-called starters were worthy of a complete meal!
However divine the food and settings, the highlight of the night was the presence of owner/developer of Putrajaya Marriott and boss of IOI Group Tan Sri Dato Lee Shin Cheng! He arrived punctually at 7.30 pm and stayed till the very end! He was accompanied by his 26 year old lawyer son Lee Yeow Seng, executive director of IOI Group in charge of properties.
Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng is worth RM 13.4 billion but don't quote me saying that but Forbes magazine! But this is literally at the last count as of March 2013 and we are now November 2013! Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng will soon list his IOI Properties sometime in January 2014 according to The Sun Daily whose boss Chan Kien Sing was also there at dinner.
In 2009 Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng took IOI Properties private as he was annoyed the price was too low. The value of IOI Properties then was a mere RM 1.3 billion.
Today it is worth a staggering RM 18.6 billion. Since Tan Sri owns 45.77%, his share will be RM 8.55 billion and his total worth in January 2013 will be around RM 24 billion, give or take a billion as let us not nit-pick at this level.
The RM 24 billion man saw my massive dragon and phoenix necklace that weighed over 2 kg and pronounced he liked it. He was hugely amused to see my portraits painted on my shirt, pants and shoes.
He commented wryly, "My gun is bigger than yours." Of course Tan Sri Lee was referring to my belt buckeld shaped like a pistol.
"Show me your gun then," I asked.
"It's at home. It is over 6 inches long. Next time you come, bring a bigger gun," grinned Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng.
Despite his stature, Tan Sri Lee mingled with his 20 guests and was mobbed like a rock star as everyone asked to be photographed with the 74 year old tycoon who posed happily with everyone. He was affable, charming and always smiling. I would too if I was worth RM 13.4 billion now and RM 24 billion by January 2014!
I begged to interview him one of these days but he declined politely, saying he was low-key and shy. But he ordered his son to do so. Lee Yeow Seng protested he too was averse to publicity but I will work on them.
Dato Steve Day welcomed us, thanked Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng for honouring us with his presence and introduced the 2 Cool Chefs Fauzi in charge of Midori and Aris Fadillah in charge of Tuscany, the two restaurants we would partake our mains.
As we would be migrating from one venue to another, Dato Steve Day announced, "Putrajaya Marriott's resident saxophonist will play 'Tequila' and that is the sign you have to finish your last spoonful and move!"
First stop---Chef's Table inside the kitchen!
We were led by the attentive and professional staff of Putrajaya Marriott but even if they were not there, all we needed do was follow the trail of candles placed on the floor! The corridors were purposely dimmed so the flickering lights became pronounced, enhancing the drama and surreal experience as if we were in an enchanted environment which in away, we were!
There we enjoyed Crystal tiger prawn and asparagus in malt whisky flambe before the candles led us to a function room all decked in black and white with matching helium balloons which were suspended from the ceiling.
Our Amuse Bouche was pan fried foie gras on red cabbage and champagne jelly, wagyu beef roulade and seared scallop. Each time we were seated with different guests but I never got to sit next to Tan Sri Lee who was seated next to his son so I went to photograph the father and son duo for this lucky blog!
I told Lydia Mae Hendroff, assistant director of marketing the U-shaped table is similar to a Miss Malaysia judging panel. I was half right as suddenly without warning, 2 dancers ran in and danced to a popular tune! Marvellous and very theatrical! I had just finished my Sauvignon Blanc before the saxophonist sounded and off we went again, wondering where the candles would lead us next, reminiscent of 'Lord of the Rings' movie.
Truly a case of lights, camera, action!
This time, the candles led us to the vast lower lobby where I believe I could abseil---this time for the traditional group photo! We assembled on the staircase and beamed for the camera!
We trotted to Midori Japanese restaurant where a closed door greeted us. Suddenly a ninja leaped out with a samurai sword and slashed the white paper to reveal the entrance to Midori!
How sensational is that?
The theatrics continued as we dined on Consomme of Benito with Inari pouch and lime and poached barramundi in sweet ginger sauce and san sai veggies by the appearance of a geisha!
Yes, a Japanese geisha all dolled up in kimono and brandishing a red brolly! I was convinced a sumo wrestler would materialise next but no, the saxophone sounded and we were off to Tuscany, the Italian restaurant and our final destination!
END OF PART 1
LYDIA MAE HENDROFF, KEE HUA CHEE AND SIMON YONG
DATIN MICHELLE WONG, KEE HUA CHEE AND DATO SIMON WONG
LEE YEOW SENG. DATO NELSON KWOK, DATIN KOK, KEE HUA CHEE PULLING THE TRIGGER OF HIS GUN BELT BUCKLE, DATIN SU DAY AND MING HO AND DAVID MORRIS
DATO STEVE DAY, TG NASARIAH TG SYED IBRAHIM AND DATIN SU DAY
LEE YEOW SENG AND KEE HUA CHEE ENTERING THE KITCHEN TO CHEF'S TABLE
CHEF'S TABLE INSIDE THE KITCHEN!
SON AND FATHER---LEE YEOW SENG AND TAN SRI DATO LEE SHIN CHENG OF IOI GROUP
LEE YEOW SENG AND TAN SRI DATO LEE SHIN CHENG OF IOI GROUP. TAN SRI LEE IS CURRENTLY WORTH RM 13.4 BILLION BUT BY JANUARY 2014 AFTER HE RELISTS IOI PROPERTIES, HE WILL BE WORTH RM 24 BILLION, MORE THAN ME
TAN SRI DATO LEE SHIN CHENG AND SON AND HEIR APPARENT LEE YEOW SENG AT MIDORI
CONSOMME OF BENITO WITH POUCH
WHAT A GRAND DISPLAY OF TABLE DECOR! EPIC IS THE WORD!
MING HO AND KEE HUA CHEE BEING SERVED APPETISERS
THE CHEF COMES TO PAY HOMAGE
MING HO, CHEF FAUZI AND KEE HUA CHEE
END OF PART 1