“Wow! You’re kidding, right?”
“What? You’re for real?”
“Wow! Wow! Wow!”
I couldn’t believe it when I was first invited to participate in the cooking class at LaFite (HELLO, it’s LaFite!). A very good friend of mine knew exactly what my idea of joy is, and if you’ve not figured it out by now – it’s good food and good company. And that was exactly what this class was all about.
This Cooking Experience 2009 was in its third installment and it was part of the many fantabulous events organised by BMW Malaysia for its White Card members. And what’s a White Card you ask? Well, it’s this über cool club where only Beemer owners can join. Own a BMW and gain a complimentary 3-years membership. It’s that simple. BMW has always believed that when customers purchase its vehicles, they are not just buying a car but a lifestyle. And with its BMW White Card program, their customers are given the opportunity to live the ultimate BMW lifestyle – one that is custom towards high-end activities usually associated with very affluent individuals. Not just limited to food, White Card members can also participate in exclusive fashion, travel, health & beauty, sports, and other likewise luxurious events. And as a member, you’re entitled to invite your family or friends any of the special events like this one. Hooray, lucky me!
Well, Lady Luck didn’t shine for too long anyway. I found out that I had to show up at 7.30am on a Saturday morning for the class. But yet I still chose to happily stay out late with other food bloggers (and toy fans alike) the night before. McCutie reckons I’ve got bananas for brains! Anyway, let’s start with the cooking class already.
Walking into Shangri-la Hotel in the morning, I was glad to know that the class will be conducted by none other than Chef Damon Campbell, the resident Chef de Cuisine (or executive chef) of LaFite. I’ve met the bubbly, laid back and funny Canadian Chef about 8-months back during one of my company’s PR events at the restaurant. He reminds me of a certain Naked Chef. Anyway, it was nice meeting up again and finding out what the day was going to be like over morning coffee.
After breakfast we made our way to the TTDI wet market in a convoy of BMWs (what else?!). I was actually half expecting them to bring us to the Pudu market for an authentic market experience. But I guess the TTDI was a more sanitary option for many participants.
The class was intimate with only 12 lucky students (participants were chosen on a first come, first serve basis. As this was a very popular event among the members, I felt privileged to even be there). It’s important for a class like this not to get overly big in size, so everyone can get the share of attention they deserve. Speaking of attention, boy were we showered with plenty that afternoon. Just between slicing, filleting, skinning, and flavouring our market-bought fish, we had 4 glasses of wine offered to us and plenty of kitchen helpers to clean up after us! Heck, there was a long buffet of breads and pastries laid out by the side of the kitchen (just in case we get hungry apparently) and there was even a bar serving every juice, coffee and wine imaginable. Now, that’s what I call a royal treatment!
It was well into the afternoon by the time we were done with our souffles. We were each given a nice big room to just chill and freshen up. Ahh… das ist gud, ya? This is the life. And before I can ask if this can possibly get any better, it was time for lunch. It was Chef Damon’s turn to cook for us. We made our way to the restaurant with great anticipation (and appetite too).
As the restaurant do not normally operate on Saturdays for lunch, so, we were the only patrons in the restaurant. And naturally we were promptly seated. On the table was this beautiful menu, personally handwritten by the Chef himself. And there it was listed under the mains, the magnificent Melt-In-Your-Mouth Beef (the other option is fish). It’s my favourite dish here. I got to have it. I was actually just telling my friend about this super yummylicious beef dish in the morning. And I’m happy to see it listed down as it’s not on LaFite’s regular dining menu. Slowly cooked for 48-hours using the sous-vide* method, the meat holds its shape when served but literally melts into meat juice upon touching one’s palate. I don’t think there’s a word to truly describe this dish. It’s no wonder that the restaurant used such a literal name for it. If you ever want to try this when you’re dining there, do no hesitate to request for it. Another highlight came in the form of a shot glass containing coconut juice and a delicate egg-yolk-looking bubble which exploded in a wonderful tropical mix of mango, passion fruit & pineapple juice right inside my mouth. The Exotic Explosion was a great burst to start off the lunch.
By the time we were done it was almost 4pm and we were beat from all the ‘hard work’. Made me really appreciate the hard work and long hours real chefs put in to make our food. As we walked leave we were handed a goodie bag each. A very heavy one to say the least. I took a peep and saw our chef whites cleaned and nicely folded, a group picture & my professional head shot as a chef (could one day appear on the cover of my cookbook or comic should I have one), and a nice BMW notebook which I’ve been eying on for a very long time now. Finally! But those aren’t what’s making the bag heavy. The weight actually came from a nicely wrapped hardcovered cookbook by famed Singaporean Chef Justin Quek entitled Passion & Inspiration. It was even autographed by the chef with a note saying, “Live Life with Passion!” How inspiring!
The Cooking Experience was a great way to spend half a weekend-day doing something productive yet fun. It may not have thought me much in terms of cooking as I felt the class was catered more for beginners; but the Cooking Experience 2009 has taught me to enjoy the finer things in life and it has sparked an interest in baking. Perhaps, I should start taking baking classes too. That’s the one kitchen skill that’s still alien to me. Hope I get to do this again sometime soon. It’s been a real pleasure.
*Glossary: Sous-vide (pronounced /su_’vid/) [taken from wikipedia] French for “under vacuum”, is a method of cooking that is intended to maintain the integrity of ingredients by heating them for an extended period of time at relatively low temperatures. Food is cooked for a long time, sometimes well over 24 hours. Unlike cooking in a slow cooker, sous-vide cooking uses airtight plastic bags placed in hot water well below boiling point (usually around 60°C or 140°F).
*Disclaimer: All conversations featured on this comic is a complete work of fiction and does not represent any individuals, their personalities, or identities whatsoever.