Formerly of Copper, Kuala Lumpur, Chai showcases farm-to-table approach with new nine-course signature degustation menu.
Elevating the dining experience at The Datai Langkawi in Malaysia, the resort welcomed Chai Chun Boon as Senior Chef de Cuisine. Founder and Head Chef of renowned European restaurant Copper in Kuala Lumpur, Chef Chai brings his trademark farm-to-table approach to the resort’s all-day restaurant, The Dining Room. Showcasing the natural bounty of the island, Chef Chai has also created a new nine-course degustation menu for The Datai that embraces both the technical and experimental aspects of gastronomy – skills gained through working with esteemed chefs such as Sergio Herman, Xavier Pellicer, and Jason Atherton.
A Malaysian national from Sarawak, Chef Chai graduated from DCT International Hotel and Business Management School in Switzerland in ‘European Culinary Management’, before working at two-Michelin Star ABac in Barcelona and three-Michelin Starred Oud Sluis in the Netherlands. In 2011, Boon moved to Singapore where he worked at restaurants such as acclaimed fine-dining tapas restaurant, Santi, alongside three Michelin star Chef Santi Santamaria, and Pollen Garden by the Bay, before rising to Head Chef at modern Australian restaurant, Graze. In 2014, he returned to Malaysia, launching his casual fine dining Copper restaurant a year later.
Chef Chai’s culinary philosophy is based on working with the best of locally-sourced ingredients from responsible producers, espousing a farm-to-table approach to guarantee natural freshness. He is delighted to find an extensive garden at The Datai Langkawi, with essential ingredients such as chilli, turmeric, ginger, ulam raja, and more grown for the resort’s dining services and ripe for the picking. Taking full advantage of local resources, the culinary team at the resort has long practiced sustainable purchasing and has been supporting local producers wherever possible.
Outlining his passion for sustainable procurement, Chef Chai said: “At The Dining Room, we offer locavore cuisine; inspired by our locality, the terroir of the surrounding Andaman Sea and the bounty it has to offer, the history, people, culture as well as the strategic location of where we are situated. The cross-cultural influence of the Nusantara period has shaped the cuisine in this region, and combined with the use of herbs and spices sourced locally, we create nuances of flavour that aromatise and tease the palate. We do not confine ourselves to a set cuisine but are instead inspired to cook with what’s given and the talent available. We are inspired by the fresh buffalo curd 30-minutes down the road; sweet, tart seasonal pineapples from the hills; organic petite vegetables farmed especially for us; humanely farmed organic chicken, full of flavour and bestowing its essence into gulais and curries; and sweet rockmelons and grapes matured generously under the heat of the Andaman sun.”
A crafted nine-course degustation dinner premieres Chef Chai’s arrival at The Datai Langkawi, taking guests on a gastronomic journey, traversing inspirations and influences from near and far. Believing in a multi-sensory culinary approach, the menu bridges the fundamentals of contemporary European haute cuisine with cross-cultural techniques and the sensibilities of the Asian palate. Chef Chai’s culinary style amalgamates a breadth of textures, aromas and ingredients, artfully innovating through more expanded range of flavours and intensities than a traditional degustation menu. Dishes, such as black & white Iranian Sevruga Caviar served with scallop umai, sago pearls and kaffir coconut dressing, are elevated or imbued with piquancy through the addition of aromatic herbs and spices like kaffir lime, chilli, lemongrass and masala spice. The flavours of each dish resonate like a chord of notes – each note quite distinct, cascading effortlessly in layers, complementing or counterbalancing other flavours in a harmonious whole.
The sequence of courses is in turn perfectly modulated to create an overarching balance in the menu. Each is paired with fine wine or Champagne, such as the 48 hours slow cooked oyster blade with parmesan cream, charred aubergine pegaga shade and Andaman aromatic juice, which is expertly matched with a Chateau Sociando-Mallet from Haut Medoc that brings out the aromas of the meat with its leathery deep cru notes. With a range of non-alcoholic beverages as well, ranging from teas to light mocktails, the menu offers a thoughtful and innovative alternative to the wine pairing. The curation of this extraordinary tour de force of a degustation menu reflects a further evolution of Chef Chai’s cuisine, effectively creating a unique signature style with verve.
Commenting on Chef Chai’s appointment, Arnaud Girodon, General Manager of The Datai Langkawi, said: “Chef Chai’s arrival further establishes the gastronomic reputation of The Datai Langkawi through introducing enhanced innovative dining concepts at our fine dining restaurant, The Dining Room. Chef Chai’s experience working in some of the best restaurants in gastronomic centres of the world will be an asset to the resort, while his technical skills and inventiveness will delight the most discerning diner. I’m pleased to see the positive resonance to our enhanced focus on food and beverage; with the continuation of The Chef Series, we bring the best in local and international dining to our guests, and with creative talents such as Chef Chai as part of our resident team, we ensure that guests can savour extraordinary culinary experiences any day of the week here at The Datai Langkawi.”
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