Chakri MIGF Dine Around by Kee Hua Chee

KEE@FSWMAG.COM
I CANNOT BELIEVE MIGF IS DOWN TO ITS LAST 2 DINNERS—I HAVE BEEN FEASTING ON THE LAST 28 OR SO DINNERS AND AM SO SPOILED I ASSUMED THIS WOULD GO ON FOREVER.

Anyway, big thanks to the organisers, founders and franchise owners Dato Steve Day and Datin Su Day who are Malaysia’s top power couple!¬†

CALEEN CHUA, DATO GARRY CHUA, YAM TUNKU LAKSAMANA TUNKU NAQUIYUDDIN TUANKU JAAFAR, DATIN SU DAY AND DATO STEVE DAY

 CALEEN CHUA AND DARLING DADDY DATO GARRY CHUA, OWNER OF IMPERIAL CHAKRI PALACE THAI RESTAURANT

 DATO STEVE DAY, DATO SERI IBRAHIM SAAD, DR GABRIEL PETER SALGO AND DATIN SU DAY

 CALEEN CHUA AND DATIN SU DAY


Of course it takes a mat salleh to promote Malaysian food and elevate emerging local talents to the next level! Malaysian Chef Wan, a frequent guest to MIGF dinners is a great food ambassador but he does not organise food festivals or host such gala dinners but with Chef Wan and MIGF working in tandem, Malaysian cuisine is taking on a haute status!

As Dato Steve Day always encourages the culinary team after each repast, “All you trainee cooks and young sous chefs are on your way to becoming a Cool Chef (motto of MIGF 2013) cooking with attitude. Work hard, be passionate in what you do and one day you will be a head cook or chef like your master tonight.”

At every MIGF dinner, he announces, “It is not just the food on the table but the guests at the table that makes a MIGF dinner exceptional!”

Dato Steve Day then proceeds to dissect, oops I mean introduce each guest, regaling us with the guest’s background, business status, achievements and amusing anecdotes. Of course the irrepressible Dato Steve Day can never help adding in one or two (maybe three!) salacious comments which were never submitted by the guests.¬†

At the Imperial Chakri dinner for instance, he added cheekily, “Alice Choon, asistant MD of Poh Kong Jewellers and Gary Chang ¬†MD of Poh Kong are giving a 50% discount on all jewels purchased tonight!”¬†

At the MIGF dinner at Samplings on 14, he declared Syed Khalil Syed Ibrahim, MD of Jaguar Malaysia, was also giving 50% discount on all Jaguars purchased that evening and even reminded wife Datin Su if she had paid the deposit!

Guest of honour was also MIGF Royal Patron YAM Tunku Laksamana Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Jaafar who has consented to be Royal Patron for the last 13 years since MIGF Malaysia International Gourmet Festival started!

Kudos must also be given to Caleen Chua Yen Keng, director of Rotol Food Chain which owns Chakri and other restaurants. Translated, Caleen Chua’s daddy Dato Garry Chua owns Rotol and she is his eldest child who is now in charge of all the restaurants!

Caleen Chua is not just a pretty face but a Beauty + Brains, just like me, though she is a few years younger. 

Her radiant complexion, charm and vivacity belie a formidable business tycooness in the making as she is a graduate in finance and marketing from Melbourne University and plans to open a Chakri Palace restaurant in Victoria’s capital by end of 2014!¬†

Under Chef Nippa Nutto, Imperial Chakri Palace at Suria KLCC is now the best Thai restaurant in all Malaysia, from KL to KB to KK to the 2 KTs (Kuala Trengganu and Kota Tinggi). 

Don’t ever call Chef Nutto ‘Chef Nuts’ though it is so tempting I know but everyone refers to her reverentially as Chef Mama. She has been cooking up a storm in Imperial Chakri Palace’s kitchen since Day One when the restaurant opened in 1999!

Beamed Caleen Chua, “Imperial Chakri Palace is only 1 of 2 restaurants that has operated nonstop since Suria KLCC first opened 15 years ago! The other restaurant is Spring Garden. All the other restaurants which opened in 1999 have closed! But we are still here and still going strong so that says something about our food!”

Chakri Palace has been so successful there is another Chakri Palace at Pavilion. “But the KLCC restaurant remains our flagship as it is fine dining here and the name Imperial Chakri Palace Restaurant says it all. The one at Pavilion is just called Chakri Palace.”

Chef Nippa Nutto trained at the Royal Palace in Bangkok and served King Bhumibol of Thailand before coming to serve Malaysian royalty at Imperial Chakri Palace at Suria KLCC! Indeed this year alone, His Majesty the King of Malaysia Duli Yang Maha Mulia Yang DiPertuang Agong came thrice to dine at Imperial Chakri Palace restaurant! 

His Majesty would arrive at the Louis Vuitton entrance and take the lift straight to the 4th floor to Imperial Chakri Palace with his entourage and dine in a private room. 

“This is a such a huge honour for us as it means our food is good enough for the King of Malaysia!” beamed Caleen Chua with justifiable pride.

As Tunku Naquiyuddin the Royal Patron of MIGF noted, “The food is excellent and I am pleased to attend as Royal Patron and this being a ‘palace’!”

Chef Mama brought her 25 year old son when she came and her son Nopporn Nitto, 40 now, is also a chef at Imperial Chakri! This mother and son duo is the only Thai maternal team in Malaysia! Said Chef Nopporn, “My mother taught me how to cook using recipes handed to her by her mother and grandmother. All our ingredients are freshly sourced in Malaysia or imported from Bangkok for a true authentic taste of Royal Thai cuisine.”

Giggled Caleen Chua, “I grew up in Imperial Chakri! I was 10 when Dad opened the 175-seater Chakri and I held all my birthday parties in Chakri.”

Upon graduation from Melbourne University, Caleen worked as business analyst for mining properties in Australia before returning to take over the restaurant side of the business while younger brother Mark Chua, 23, looks after the engineering side.

Her 15 year old brother Royston will also join Rotol when he grows up but 19 year old Kington has decided he wants to be a rock star as he plays the drums so well! 

“Actually my first dream was to be a singer too,” revealed Caleen Chua as I gasped and almost passed out from this unexpected news since Caleen looked so prissy, prim and proper I could not imagine her prancing on stage in leather bra, garter, miniskirt and thigh-high boots cracking a whip. She explained demurely, “I dress for the work I do. Anyway I still sing. I love hip-hop and I write music. I also compere.
“But running Rotol restaurants is my main focus. I have exciting plans and hope to open Chakri in Jakarta and Melbourne. We also have Chakri Xpress which is the casual version of Chakri Palace at KL Tower, Alamanda Mall and KLCC Food Court. Our Rainforest Cafes at Sunway Pyramid and Kl Tower are both already 10 years old.

‘Chakri’ is the name of the current ruling dynasty of Thailand and His Majesty King Bhumibol Aduladej is the 9th King of the Chakri dynasty.

CALEEN CHUA YEN KENG AND KEE HUA CHEE

CALEEN CHUA TRIES ON KEE HUA CHEE’S RM 18,000 HAND-BEADED JACKET WHILE HE WEARS HIS PANTS

LOOK AT THE JACKET HAND STITCHED WITH TINY PEARL BEADS! AMAZING HANDIWORK!

LOOK AT THE TINY BEADS WHICH WERE INDIVIDUALLY SEWN AND I THOUGHT SLAVERY HAD BEEN ABOLISHED

CALEEN AND GARRY CHUA—FORMIDABLE DAUGHTER AND FATHER TEAM

THE THAI WAI (FLORAL GARLAND) WAS GIVEN TO EACH GUEST

NICE DRINKS

GARY CHANG, ALICE CHOON AND DATO GARRY CHUA

I LOVE THE FRUIT CARVINGS

EACH HAND CARVED BY LAMPRAI

ROSE PETAL VEGGIE HOLDER!

DR GABRIEL PETER SALGO AND DATIN SU DAY

DATO STEVE DAY, DATO SERI IBRAHIM SAAD, DR GABRIEL PETER SALGO AND DATIN SU DAY

THE HAWAIIAN CONTINGENT OR MAYBE NOT

DATO STEVE DAY, DATUK SERI IBRAHIM SAAD, DATIN SU DAY, DR GABRIEL SALGO, CALEEN CHUA AND KEE HUA CHEE

THE ORCHID GARLANDS GAVE A FESTIVE, HAPPY TOUCH

DATO STEVE DAY, KEE HUA CHEE, MARCO AND PATRICK MCVEIGH THE 14TH SON OF A 14TH SON SO THIS IRISHMAN HAS MAGICAL POWERS!

DATUK SRI IBRAHIM SAAD AND CALEEN CHUA

ALICE CHOON, YA TEAK SING, SHAWNA YAP, DATIN SU DAY AND GARY CHANG

CALEEN CHUA AND DATIN SU DAY

THE ROYAL PATRON OF MIGF ARRIVES AND IS GREETED BY DATIN SU DAY

WELCOME, YAM TUNKU LAKSAMANA TUNKU NAQUIYUDDIN TUANKU JAAFAR!

CALEEN CHUA, DATO GARRY CHUA, YAM TUNKU NAQUIYUDDIN TUANKY JAAFAR, DATIN SU DAY AND DATO STEVE DAY

CHEF WAN AND DATIN SU DAY

DATO GARRY CHUA, YAM TUNKU NAQUIYUDDIN TUANKU JAAFAR, SHAWNA AND YAP TEAK SING

GARY CHANG AND PETER HO

HANDCARVED BY LAMPRAI WHO IS PAID JUST TO CARVE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES AS BEFIT CHAKRI’S IMPERIAL STATUS!

NO OTHER THAI RESTAURANT IN MALAYSIA OFFERS THIS EXTRAVAGANT TOUCH DAILY!

DATO STEVE DAY WELCOMING HIS GUESTS

DATO STEVE DAY INTRODUCING CHEF MAMA

CALEEN CHUA IS VERY EASY ON THE EYE

DATO STEVE DAY, CHEF MAMA AND SON CHEF NOPPORN

CALEEN CHUA, DATO GARRY CHUA AND YAM TUNKU NAQUIYUDDIN

 CHEF NOPPORN, CHEF WAN AND CHEF NIPPA NUTTO

GROUP PIX

CHEF NOPPORN EXPLAINS HIS DISHES

PAPAYA SALAD WITH SOFT SHELL CRAB

DATO STEVE DAY INTRODUCING HIS GUESTS

IT’S NOT WHAT IS ON THE TABLE BUT WHO ARE ON THE SEATS


KEE HUA CHEE GORGES ON HIS JUST DESSERTS

YUMMY

FAB DESSERT

NICE TEETH BY DATUK DR SEAN PAUL OF LIVINGWELL CLINIC AT STARHILL GALLERY

THE COOKS COME OUT!

CHEF WAN SAYS THE WESTERN STYLE PORTIONS ARE JUST RIGHT, NOT TOO HEAVY

YAM TUNKU LAKSAMANA TUNKU NAQUIYUDDIN TUANKU JAAFAR DECLARES THE MEAL FIT FOR A SULTAN

AND IN A RESTAURANT CALLED ‘PALACE’ TOO


YAM TUNKU NAQUIYUDDIN TUANKU JAAFAR, ROYAL PATRON OF MIGF, CONGRATULATING DATO GARRY CHUA

GOOD JOB, DATO GARRY CHUA!

JAMES BRANCHING OUT

THE IMPERIAL CHAKRI PALACE TEAM HEADED BY CALEEN CHUA



THE END 

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