“I THINK MOST PEOPLE THINK MALAYSIAN FOOD IS STRAIGHTFORWARD, LIKE, ‘THIS IS JUST A RENDANG, AND THIS IS JUST A NASI LEMAK’. WHAT WE WANT TO DO IS INCORPORATE ALL THESE INGREDIENTS INTO CUISINE AND BRING IT TO A DIFFERENT LEVEL, WITH PLATING AND SO ON. WE WANT TO GIVE (MALAYSIAN CUISINE AND PRODUCE) A RANGE.”
Malaysia: A land of many gifts, flora and fauna as rich and diverse as the people who inhabit it. From north to south to east to west, ours is a kingdom racked with rain, sun, and bountiful harvests. What better time than the month of August to celebrate the fruit of our earth?
Ask any local what they know about local produce, and the answer will invariably revolve around the bounties of our iconic Cameron Highlands. A quick walk and a cursory glance along the grocery aisles of supermarkets shows an assortment of goods, from luscious peppers to herbs and tomatoes so red and ripe, they may well have come all the way from Roma itself. Mushrooms and salads and various other produce feature in abundance, and it’s then that the ‘ah ha!’ moment presents itself.
Malaysia is bountiful, indeed. Recognising this and marching forward in an attempt to showcase the many amazing ingredients and produce available to us, Chef Matt of Curate at Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur walks us through the upcoming Bountiful Malaysia promotion that will soon be available for sampling at the downtown hotel. “We’re choosing to focus on local produce, paying due respect to local farmers and what they are doing. Ninety nine percent of this menu will have local homegrown Malaysian products.”
From Sabahan lobster to caviar farmed at Tanjung Malim, to a Mozart-indoctrinated lacto chicken farmed sustainably in Johor and Sarawakian pineapple, the possibilities seem all but endless. “These are the things that have unique stories,” Chef Matt shares. And these, as it were, are the stories that will prevail in the dishes put forth by the Curate team.
Sustainability plays an important role in the selection at Curate. As Chef Matt shares: “We use local produce because we want to ensure sustainability and quality, and there’s no shortage of supply.” It’s certainly a green way forward, considering the increasing importance placed upon responsible food sourcing and dining; when eating local, one lowers their carbon footprint by quite a lot, while simultaneously ensuring the prospering of their neighbours and countrymen. “We can get local produce all the time.”
While Bountiful Malaysia is only set to run between August and September, Chef Matt is optimistic that it’s a stepping stone forward to bigger and better things. Chef Matt adds: “Using local produce, we can help our local producers to grow and showcase local produce at another level.” And maybe, in due time, Malaysia will become known for more than our spiny, special durians.
Now wouldn’t that be a sight?