SeeFoon Enjoys a Battle from Afar – Artisan Handmade Bread & Crew Skills

I’m not a bloodthirsty person and don’t fancy battles of the warring kind but this is one Battle that I applaud. The Battle Of The Chefs 2018, a Penang State Signature Competition Event organised by the Penang Chefs Association which was held in early October in the Setia Spice Arena, attracted over 1500 participants from all the neighbouring countries with the furthest away being Pakistan.

This was the 17th edition of the battle which is held every two years and chefs in teams or individually battled it out from 7am-8pm over three days. Each entry was given 45 minutes to cook two dishes and a panel of judges tasted and voted.

Ipohites can be proud of four competitive teams; three of whom brought home gold medals while the fourth brought home a bronze.

In this issue, I wish to congratulate two of these and share with my dear readers their winning entries.


Artisan Handmade Bread

I first raved about Artisan Handmade Bread a few years ago for his delectably crusty bread reminiscent of what I would eat in Europe, led by Sam Lau with his acolyte Kew Zong Yang, brought home a gold for his winning entry of Lor Mi Fan (our famous Dim Sum Special of steamed glutinous rice given a creative Fusion twist).

Sam, who has been promoting his Bistronomy cuisine ever since he opened his Cafe on Market St., has had the good fortune to discover a few good talents in the culinary students he tutors, one of whom is Kew Zong Yang, who created this fusion dish that won the gold.

A very complex recipe indeed requiring many steps of culinary wizardry. Essentially a Ballotine of chicken stuffed with a fungus filling served with glutinous rice in Asian flavours, an egg crepe, soy caviar, vegetables, Milan sweet potato sauce, spring onion oil, sous vide yolk and a confit of chicken wing seasoned with western herbs like thyme and bay leaf. While the ingredients of this whole composition are primarily Asian, the cooking methods as in sous vide and confit are western and make for an interesting curation.

Artisan Handmade Bread
27 Jalan Market, 30000 Ipoh.
Tel:  05 255 2727 or 016 597 8922
Business hours:  9.30am-6pm (last call 2pm)
Monday & Tuesday closed.


Crew Skills

Crew Skills International is a culinary school in Ipoh, recognised as a quality culinary education provider by the World Association of Chefs Societies (Worldchefs), a global network of chefs associations founded in 1928 in Paris, by the venerable Auguste Escoffier who espoused global training methods for cooks. Awarded the citation in November last year, it was a first for Perak and the fourth in Malaysia, thus putting Crew Skills International on the map and ranking it with institutions such as Taylor’s, Sunway, Berjaya and KDU.

Now they can add a bronze medal from the Battle of the Chefs 2018 to their list of accolades and gain more trust from parents wondering where to send their offspring for career training.

I was invited to a tasting of all their entries from different participants from the school with the winning bronze entry being shyly presented by Laven Shiv Kumar, Creamy Spaghetti infused with saffron served with marinated duck breast and roasted red pepper sauce, accompanied with flavoured nut crumble. This dish certainly deserved the bronze and this young chef Laven will go far with this kind of mastery.

The spaghetti was al dente as it should be and the saffron infusion not only lent its colour but the subtle fragrance of the crocus flower stamen permeated the whole dish. The marinated duck breast was still pink and the red capsicum with tomato paste sauce lent a nuance of piquancy to the whole dish with texture provided by the nut crumble.

I also had the pleasure of sampling all their other entries which were all good efforts put in by these fledgling chefs under the guidance of their mentor tutor Chef Mohamad Safwan. Keep up the good work Crew Skills. And the next time, perhaps a gold or two.

Crew Skills International School of Culinary
No. 9, Lintasan Perajurit 17G
Taman Perdagangan dan Perindustrian, 31400 Ipoh.
05 545 9800

Squirrels Hideout at The Roots Eco Resort: SeeFoon gets away to a hideaway

It’s called the Squirrels Hideout at Roots Eco Resort. Lest my dear readers conjure up images of scurries of squirrels jumping about, have no worries as it refers to the nest, a cosy protected place in nature.

That is exactly what the Squirrels Hideout is: a cosy nest in nature situated just past the railway station and 10½ milestone on Jalan Chemor in Tanjung Rambutan. You could easily whizz by and not see the sign which is so discreet that it is almost invisible.

Here where the Kinta River flows, you can order a lovely lunch or dinner and listen to the sounds of nature, either right by the river or undercover, sitting in their outdoor dining area. It is the ideal venue to bring the family over the upcoming Deepavali celebrations, and as the kids roam the grounds, the adults can sit with a bottle of wine or a few beers and enjoy the ambiance while perusing the menu.

Roots Eco Resort is a resort usually catering to groups of eco tourists whom they take on visits to Orang Asli villages, the Chepor waterfalls, sunset trekking, water abseiling, white water rafting and night walks, accompanied by trained guides. A range of villas varying in price from a riverside villa with an outdoor jacuzzi at RM368 to standard twin bedded villas at RM228 and even a tree house are available for rent! All villas come with breakfast for two.

The lunch and dinner menu is eclectic: from Indian, Malay, Chinese depending on the market availability and the whim of Chef Shanty who can cook up a storm.

We had quite a tasting from their menu which is not extensive but satisfying and most of the dishes we tried are to be specially ordered in advance. To begin, we had nibbles on their Snackeroo fish and mutton cutlets which were perfect snacks for pre-dinner drinks. Mildly spiced and deep fried mutton: RM18, and fish: RM16.80. On menu.

Shanty’s Chicken Varuval had all the right notes, using Scotch Bonnet Chilli which can blow the roof off your mouth but you can tell her to tone it down. To be ordered in advance and size to be determined for price. The same goes for their Ayam Masak Merah SambalLamb Curry and the unusual Sardine Varuval.

If sitting by the riverside is to your liking then check what is special for that day or evening. Sometimes thosai is on the cards with different themes changing weekly.

For the kids and adults with a sweet tooth, do check out their Sarah Lee Cheesecakes ranging from Strawberry, Salted Caramel, Triple Chocolate Bavarian and Cookies and Cream Bavarian. Also do check out the Mars mud pie. I know you can get these elsewhere but its the ambiance that changes the whole sweet experience!

There is also a beer bucket promotion with five bottles for RM65 only.

Squirrels Hideout @ The Roots Eco Resort
10½ Mile, Jalan Chepor, 31250 Tg. Rambutan, Perak.
Tel:  Sudesh 012 277 0510, S. Agilan 010 371 2498 (Resort Manager)
Operating hours: 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm-9.30pm