Malaysia

Ok, I haven’t been as good with writing in the blog this trip as I was the Olympics. The conference which is 2.5 days is actually ending this afternoon. I have a flight back to the US at 1:15 in the morning. Fly from KL to Seoul with a 1 hour layover and then Seoul to Atlanta direct. Thursday is going to be a long long day as it basically adds 12 hours onto the day with the time zone changes. Truth be told I really have not been in Atlanta for almost 3 months with all the events so it is going to be weird to be back for almost 2 months with just a touch of travel in between.

Monday night Honeywell did their kick off dinner in Splash. It wasn’t very well attended but those who came did enjoy it. We are not in the raining season here in KL but it rains religiously every darn day. It makes it hard to go out because of all the rain. Sunday rained all day. I never left the hotel at all. Spent some time in my heavenly bed and worked, met Paul for a brunch at the hotel and then met him again for dinner in their Asian restaurant which turned out to be really fantastic. The room is one of the most beautiful restaurant rooms I have ever been in. Very spacious and very chic.

A couple of things have come to mind as I have been here. Regarding the Arabic women who walk around with their robes and I am sorry I don’t know the formal name of this. I tried talking to a few of them. I wanted them to go home “having met” a friendly American. These women don’t always speak English but the few who did were nice. What did occur to me as we were doing our daily downpours is that with their hair and face covered they NEVER have to worry about make up/doing their hair/having it colored nothing. Like how great would that be? Food can get in between your teeth an no one sees it. The only place these women can remove their face veil is when they are at home. The thought is that only your husband can see your face. Odd since a lot of these marriages are arranged. One of the folks at the hotel said that women who have their veils though have beautiful skin because it isn’t exposed to sunlight.

Ok, enough of that – Regarding culinary – let me mention something about China that I forgot to write. The Chinese are big eaters! It is not uncommon for them to take a couple plates of food. What was very sweet is at the hotel in China we had chopsticks out for them to eat with but the tables were set with Western silverware. We saw many Chinese that would have preferred to have chopsticks but felt the need to fit in and use silverware. This turned out to be somewhat awkward for them because they aren’t used to it. Also the Chinese never pick up food to eat with their hand unless it is chips or nuts etc. So an egg roll or spare rib or bread roll they use a fork to eat it. It was so cute watching this Chinese man eat his roll off the middle of his fork. What is even more impressive is watching them eat the above with chopsticks. I will never be that talented.

Ok, onto KL. They are also big eaters here to. Folks will eat the hot food first in a buffet and then they will go for the cold food. Also with dessert – they will eat a ton of fruit for dessert with a small piece of cake or panna cottta. We never go through that much fruit in the US on a banquet meal.

I sat with the chef yesterday to discuss food trends for Asia and get his thoughts on banqueting. He is one of the few chef’s that really is concerned about the guest experience and doing it right. Chef King isn’t all concerned about the dollar. He said with labor being so cheap he has the flexibility to give guests extra. BOY I WISH THE FOLKS IN THE US WOULD PAY ATTENTION TO THIS…because they do could to extras to make it nicer but they are so focused on squeezing every dollar out of you that they loose site of the guest experience. He also takes time to really do some different presentations with food. For him moving forward it is more about atmosphere and creating an environment around culinary. For example today Chef King had someone walking around with a small pitchers of orange water with mint that soaked for 12 hours and they were giving people a morning alixir. So how much did that cost the chef to give people this morning kiss – NEXT TO NOTHING – it is called going the extra mile to be of service to your guests. Would that happen in the US – NO – does it piss me off – YES! This and providing interesting displays to put the food on is his direction of culinary. The last thing that I asked him a lot and this is where I think hotel chef’s get lazy is they don’t go out and eat – what’s around them or at their competition. Chef King is pretty in tune to that. Luckily he also has some street markets that the goes and tries on a regular basis. To chef’s in general I don’t find your food or presentations inspiring especially when you all have good sources around you. To be creative and inspiring you have to be active in the environment around you. Take advantage of the good and the bad. I learn just as much off a bad banqueting experience as I do a good one.

The one other element that stands out with banquets is the choices. You see I also did the culinary for the same conferences that are going on in Dubai and Mumbi India. Did you folks know that Bombay got renamed to Mumib? How the hell does someone rename a city after a million years of existence? That is strange to me. Anyhow in all of these places there is so much more choices to the banqueting menu than in the US. In the US chef’s give you a chicken , beef and think they handed you the world. Here on all menus I had to scale back on the number of offerings because it was just so much. In China I must have had 12 chafing dishes of food for people to choose from. All for less cost than in the US. Interesting eh? Sorry to bash culinary in America but it has gotten all so mediocre and arrogant that I walk away after this experience wondering why.

Tonight when the conference is over – we are all going to do our favorite Asian activity. MASSAGE! Two hour massage for $40.00 USD then back to the hotel to finish packing and off to the airport.

That is my story for now and I am sticking to it.

Claire

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