Launch of Passion Cookbook by Sheraton Imperial KL & Westin Langkawi – A commendable effort by our local chefs!

Last December, both the Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel and The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa embarked on a special project, the production of a cookbook, delightfully called Passion.

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Passion is a 150-page book, featuring 39 recipes from 13 culinary experts of the both hotels. The collaboration between both hotels was born out of a mutual love for food and what it represents in our local society.
Both hotels have many local culinary specialists who are so creative and talented in their fields, guided and led by two very brilliant home-grown culinary maestros – Rajesh Kanna, Executive Chef at Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel (most right in the pic below) and Chandran Narayanan, Executive Chef at The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa.

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Quoting Helmut Pluecker, General Manager of The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa; the Passion cookbook aims to spread the joys of life through the specially cooked recipes by their team of talented chefs, in hope that it will turn to be an inspiration for other budding culinary talents out there.
The key that made ‘Passion‘ even more of significance was the fact that almost all the chefs are home grown. ‘Passion’ showcases and promote our very own local talent, who are capable of achieving greater heights and international standards.

Below: Our very own local cooking maestros.

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To celebrate this special project, the hotels organized a special launch ceremony, where Yang Berhormat Senator Dato’ Maznah Mazlan, Deputy Minister of Human Resources, Malaysia (pictured below) graced the ceremony as Guest of Honour.

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Moi, Rebecca Saw graced the ceremony as well. As a blogger. LOL.

The event was held last Thurday at the Villa Danieli Italian Restaurant, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel. The launch ceremony featured a cooking demonstration by 4 of the 13 talented chefs featured in the ‘Passion’ cookbook – Chef Severin Huerlimann, Chef Syahir Ismail, Chef Mohamad Halim and Chef Kabir Abdul Rahman.

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Below: The set up at the al-fresco dining area outside of Villa Danieli.
It drizzled a while prior to the cooking demonstration so all of us enjoyed the fresh, cooling air as we were entertained with the chef’s cooking antics & platters of food.

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Needless to say, the dishes that were demonstrated are from the cook book itself. As a guest, I got to sample some of these novel creations that day as they were serve in ‘Hors d’œuvre’ portions.

Baby Octopus & Green Pinchos with Mojito Sauce.

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Seabass with Avocado Salsa.

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Black Glutinous Rice & Coconut Ice-Cream. This was my absolute favourite. The green purée is sweetish cream of honeydew. Scoop deeper within for soft chewy black glutinous rice and eat it mixed with the saltish cream of coconut milk (santan). Lovely blend of western dessert with our local favourite!

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The very next day, on Friday, the chefs from both hotels collaborated on their first ever wine dinner with the culinary stars at Villa Danieli.

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I was honoured with another invite, and partook in a celebrated six course dinner, exquisitely paired with a variety of Australian, New Zealand and Italian wines. Priced at RM220++ per person (set course with wines), I sampled more innovative dishes, all available from the ‘Passion‘ cookbook.

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We started off dinner with a sparkling white – Cantina Castelnuovo (as pictured above) & being a sparking wine, this was sweet & light, and I thought it started out dinner nicely. The breads here came in these quaint “gunny-like” sacks & I thought that was just so cute! Other than the presentation, the bread was lovely as well, crisp on the outside & wonderfully soft inside.

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I love raw seafood but this Pan Seared Tuna with Eggplant Caviar & Salsa Verde didn’t manage to taste as interesting as it sounded.

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Fortunately the Laksa Marinated Seabass with Avocado Salsa & Ginger Coconut cream fared better. Laksa spices, creamy coconut milk & tangy avocados all combined seamlessly for a stimulating mouthful.

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The next wine for the next two course was the Capel Vale Verdeho. This one was crisper, and has a sharper lingering taste that I didn’t quite fancy. The trick was to drink it after the food, for I found it to be pleasant enough then.

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Scallops with Capsicum Puree, Asparagus Panna Cotta & White Tomato Foam. I have to salute the chef who attempted this. The foam, the vegetable – based panna cotta; is very “Lafite“, very ‘Nathalies’ Gourmet Studio’….well….in other words, very french. Taste-wise, I liked the Asparagus Panna Cotta but some may find it an acquired taste.

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Imperial Golden Puff Stuffed with Scallop & Truffle in Miso Flavoured Topped with Asparagus & Salmon Roe. Soft sweet yam with bits of scallops were encased within the crispy puff, with bits of black truffles on top. My favourite for the evening.

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I can’t say the same for the accompanying side. This glass has a mixture of cubed sea cucumbers, dried beancurds & cucumbers topped with meat floss in spicy nutty sauce which reminisces strongly of our local Achar .

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The next change of wine had me re-introduced to the Taylor’s Chardonnay; which I had tasted last during the Celestial Court Cantonese food & wine pairing dinner.

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This time it was paired with the Cajun Grilled Wild Salmon with Spiced Congee and Tomato Salsa. The salmon was done perfectly but it was the “Indian-ised” spiced congee, which tasted like, well, thick porridge cooked with Indian spices that caught our attention that night.

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A lover of cod, I was looking forward to the Pan Seared Black Cod and Sautéed Carambola Mint . Carambola is essentially starfruit, and the sweetish sourish sauce imparted piquancy to the dish. I however, enjoyed the cod on its own, for I love the fresh, flaky & fatty texture of cod fish. This piece was no exception.

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After the overdose of seafood dishes we were finally served red meat. The Tandoori Lamb sounded good on the menu, and was actually the most anticipated dish of the evening since it was the only meat dish! The Hunter’s Marlborough Pinot, a dry red was chosen to match.

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I would have preferred a bloodier preparation ( I like my red meat medium rare)  but that might not have suit the theme of the dish since this is essentially the lamb version of Tandoori Chicken.

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Well, meat cravings satisfied anyhow.

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Finally it’s desserts time! We were absolutely stuffed, and the rich Manjari Giandunja Mousse, Puff Pastry with Passion Coulis, Whisky and Hazelnut Chocolate Pots was a bit too heavy for the ending.

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Still, it was a good dessert. And perfect for chocolate lovers. Alcoholic desserts lovers (like myself) would find the whisky to be a tad too faint so keep your expectations low for the chocolate pot.

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Dinner was at Villa Danieli, which is Sheraton Imperial’s Italian outlet that boasts of serving true Italian cuisine.

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Our dinner that night wasn’t the actual Italian cuisine of Villa Danieli as we were tasting the best dishes from each chef in the hotel. It was the first time for me to see so many chefs in one kitchen as they worked their magic to serve us dinner!

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I have never dined at Villa Danieli and have heard mixed reviews from fellow foodies. But it has a wood fire oven for its pizza so I’m half sold! I love pizzas, especially so for those with lingering smoky aftertaste.

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Seating arrangements are comfortably spaced out & interior is beautiful; and it seems to be truly reminiscent of an Italian Villa (or from what I have seen from magazines anyway).

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Wines and liquor selections are impressive.

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Not here for food? Relax with a glass of wine at the comfortable lounge area.

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Below: Villa Danieli’s signature Charcoal Bread.

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Villa Danieli opens for lunch from 12 noon to 2.30pm from Mondays to Fridays and serves dinner from Mon to Sat from 6.30pm to 10.30pm. The restaurant is closed on Sundays & Public Holidays.

Any further inquiries on events or on table reservations at Villa Danieli can be made by calling 03-27179900 ext 6922 or at [email protected]

And last but not least, I’ve got 2 copies of ‘Passion‘ to giveaway! A 150 pages, 39 recipes from the 13 culinary experts of Sheraton Imperial & Westin Langkawi. Price- RM38.00.

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What do you have to do?
Very simple, just leave a comment on this post – “What dish would you like to see these chefs create?
So give me your most creative dish (not too outrageous please, something that can really be prepared in the kitchens) ; be it crocodile meat congee to salted egg duck thigh with pickled century egg. The most interesting dish wins!

**Judges’ decision is final! Dateline for entries is Friday, 25th March’11. 2pm.

All pictures are:
rebeccasaw-samsungnx100

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