THE GASTRO SWITCH

Written by root. Posted in IN PERSON

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Published on May 03, 2017 with No Comments

Chef Devesh Dabral of Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam speaks about his journey of discovery and experimentation as he explores the local cuisine.

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Radisson, together with the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, celebrated the Brunei Gastronomy Week recently. How was that for you?
It was an amazing experience for me and the team during gastronomy week. I am a great believer of using local produce wherever I work. Since arriving in Brunei, I have been exploring local delicacies around the country and got the desire to give local fare a twist. Once I heard that we got the opportunity to participate in the Brunei Gastronomy Week, I involved my team to plan and develop the regional cuisine with modern culinary twists. Just to name a few: Nasi Lemak sushi roll, Beef Rendang Burger with Bergedil Kentang, Sambal Tuna Sliders, kueh tako wrapped in pandan leaf, dark chocolate ondeh ondeh with isomalt, and durian sorbet. We also did some traditional popular dishes like Ayam Pansuh (chicken cooked in bamboo).

How would you describe Bruneian cuisine?
Bruneian cuisine is influenced by the neighbouring countries as many of the indigenous people are related to each other. At the same time, it has its own twist. As part of South East Asia, usage of local spices, fresh seafood and of course Halal products, make the cuisine different. Some of the unique dishes are Ambuyat (made of sago starch and accompanied with different condiments and sauces) and Ayam Pansuh.

If you were to take one Bruneian dish and give it a modern twist, what would it be and how would you do it?
One of my favourite delicacies in this country is kueh, which can be cakes, dumplings, pastries or puddings (basically baked and steamed). Appearance wise they are very different from western delicacies; even the texture. So we have decided to keep the real texture and flavour as it is, but add modern culinary trends and some western touches. Hazelnut praline celorot (a cone-shaped traditional sweet snack made of rice flour) was one of the outcomes, infused with homemade hazelnut praline paste instead of gula melaka (palm sugar).

What are the present trends in culinary you are embracing right now?
The culinary world is growing and chefs are experimenting more and more. As a chef, I always create my menus and dishes around the local produce. Brunei has tropical weather which limits you, but again there are many possibilities to play with ingredients. At our fine dining restaurant Deals, we opted for a modern contemporary trend. One of the characteristics of the style of cooking is to use each selected ingredient with utmost care, which follows my mantra of using local produces. At Tasek Brasserie our new a la carte menu showcases the modern style of presentation and twist with flavourful ingredients. Soon we will be launching our Family Sunday Brunch at the pool side; the concept will be based on food market selection, Asian Tapas at poolside Bar, Kids Cooking classes and many more.

Bruneians rarely eat out. Do you find that a challenge and how do you hope to entice them to dine at Radisson?
We believe in providing great service and high quality products for a competitive price. Our regular Bruneian guests know and understand our philosophy and therefore we are a preferred destination for functions, meetings and dining. Even in this competitive market we are able to stay ahead of the competition by staying true to our beliefs. We are nearing the Ramadhan month and already brainstorming on the dishes we’re going to create. My motto is clear: to give an extraordinary experience during the Holy month to Bruneians with local and modern delicacies.

How would you describe your own style of cooking?
I believe in taste and ingredients rather than following ancient trends in culinary. My priority is understanding how important each guest is and how different each of their tastes and palates are. That gives me a platform to twist my cooking style. In terms of challenges, I take the reverse way to make myself tougher than challenges to forward my culinary journey.

What, in your opinion, separates good chefs from great chefs?
Good chefs are great in preparing a meal through the way they have learned how to prepare it, whereas great chefs love to experiment and think out of the box to get a result that no-one would’ve expected (in a positive way).

If you’re not working, what are you likely to cook for yourself?
I always try to find some twist with available ingredients at home as I love to cook over the weekend or in social gatherings at my place. No hard and fast rules for recipes – just create something with a punch.

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