Monday, September 29, 2014

Le Cordon Bleu: To Be A Cuisinier

Hello again from the fat Shneep! I'm really just dropping by today because I feel really guilty to have you guys hanging from my first mention of the day at Le Cordon Bleu and I never spoke about the second session after. But fret not, here it is!

Introducing Chef David Morris, 1 part chef, 1 part lecturer and 2 parts murderer. (I kid.)

Born and bred in the rural areas of the United Kingdom, food from the land and sea is nothing new to the passionate Chef Morris who began to train as an apprentice in a leading Birmingham hotel in his young teenage days. Before long, Chef Morris found himself in Henley-on-Thames where he began to work under the wings of Head Chef Norman Cook at the Phyllis Court Club before being promoted as a Sous Chef and got himself promoted as the Executive Sous Chef at the Compleat Anglear Hotel in Marlow. In the year 2005, Chef Morris was crowned runner up as the Hampshire Chef of the Year and has helped design and open Shendish Manor in Hertfordshire, one of the best country house hotels today.
 
As a patient lecturer who makes sure his students understands each technique properly, he began the session with a really quirky posture; holding the knife up. I thought it was a really interesting way to speak to us because he explained to us how knives or any other thing around us isn't exactly as dangerous as we thought and the real danger in the kitchen was something closer to home. It was us, or rather our recklessness. It's something my brother has mentioned to me before and I do agree wholeheartedly. I mean, if you think about how a knife is dangerous, it's just about how we handle it. Logically speaking, I thought Chef Morris truly knew his deal and I wasn't wrong about that thought.

And here's our our dish of the day; squid.

The demonstration by Chef Morris was an Asian Inspired Consomme with Squid alongside Rosettes of Melon with Mango Chilli Salsa. With his new found love for chillies when he arrived Malaysia years ago, Chef Morris has constantly been instilling this spicy touch to all his creations. To him, a little bit of bird's eye chilli (Or chilli padi as we call it) was really needed for a tang on your tongue that leaves you partly gasping yet wanting more.

Preparing the fresh catch.

And showing us what it's like to clean it thoroughly; inside and out.

As someone who spends possibly only 10% of her life in the kitchen to date, I never knew there was so much to clean in a squid! I've always had them already cooked and deliciously battered or prepared in whatever way, I didn't even know the backbone of a squid resembled plastic pieces and there was a thing inside the squid that absolutely had to be removed (I think it was the teeth or something) that looks extremely small yet dangerous. All these were done and ready in a manner of minutes in the hands of Chef Morris in front of our eyes, people!

Dealing with a paste made of white fish, squid trimmings and left overs of chilli, ginger and lemongrass.

Making sure the paste in cold fish stock hasn't gotten burnt at the bottom of the pot.

It was crucial in the creation of consommes that it doesn't get stirred yet doesn't get burned at the bottom with light taps of a chopstick and this was something we learned from Chef Morris. It would seem like the art of cooking wasn't just with your hands but also a coordination of your 5 senses. You had to see how clear the stock had boiled, smell if your ingredients have gone bad, taste if it has been seasoned well enough, hear if the consomme has burned and feel to know if everything was in place. Being a chef isn't an easy job.

This is how you simmer.

Our consomme is ready for dishing!

During the demonstration period, Chef Morris got us engaged in an interesting activity whereby he had us off our butts and do a little stretch in our arms. It was funny yet intriguing to know that this was how he is in classes too; making it less boring and as I believe, will definitely make it more memorable for his students to know what they are doing right (Or wrong) while cooking.

Little touches to our Asian Inspired Consomme with Squid.

Tada! Everything has been made from scratch, smack in front of our eyes! 

Rosettes of Melon with Mango Chilli Salsa.

It was the first of my consomme experiences and truly something unexpected if you ask me. It wasn't overly coiling as how I expected the fish stock to be. In fact, it had that tangy twist with a bit of spicy taste and the scent of lemongrass all in one while the lightly grilled squid wasn't at all rubbery; a feat that some chefs may not achieve. While I didn't manage to take photos of how the rosettes of melon with mango chilli salsa was made, I can distinctively remember how Chef Morris has used a meat slicer to turn a really sweet rock melon into thin slices before hand-rolling them to resemble a rosette then drenched bits of the mango chilli salsa (That he made from scratch in front of our eyes, no less!) over the sides. The result was a sweet and flavourful appetizer that I wish I had more of.

A tour to the kitchen.

Much like the patissier kitchen, the cuisinier kitchen fits 16 students at every given time so everyone has their own counter tops to prepare their ingredients, cook up a storm then wash up before presenting it to Chef Morris to grade by the end of the class. It has been designed such as that Chef Morris could be standing exactly where I stood as this picture was taken and look out to his students so he knows if they've done something wrong. And may I just remind you that these kitchens costed RM 6 million to build in Sunway Le Cordon Bleu? You're welcome.

With Chef David Morris...lesser of a murderer when you've been in the demonstration long enough.

And that was how my Saturday went at Sunway Le Cordon Bleu. It was truly an eye opening experiences to watch as things were created in front of my face when hours ago, these materials were sitting separately from on another and were definitely not what they turned out to be. Visits around the campus also showed me that the kitchen was really well equipped and students in Sunway Le Cordon Bleu would definitely be getting a state of the art education in walking their paths to cook up a storm and make everyone's tummy happy. 

I just thought I should again thank ChurpChurp for the vouchers to this demonstration (That I almost did not turn up to!) and Disney Malaysia in line with Sunway Le Cordon Bleu for arranging this amazing experience. You could check out the official Le Cordon Bleu website to know more about enrollment details as well as scholarships that they offer right now at www.lecordonbleu.com.my or just head off to Sunway University College and ask for a good tour of the place. It's seriously not your regular campus where Le Cordon Bleu stands. Until then, I'm just going to have soup from the can because I can't make consommes...or rosettes of melon with mango chilli salsa. Yet.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rakuten Super Sale September!

I suppose we should all by now be familiar with the song, "Wake me up when September ends" since it's the lyric everyone chooses to post on social media whenever September looms. For me, it does give a nice punch to it considering then end of September always means it's my birthday! This September however, it also means the arrival of Rakuten's Super Sale September event!

Running from the 25th of September to the 1st of October, the Super Sale comes just in time to dish out on the latest Autumn/Winter 2014 collections from brands such as Sweet Sixties, Sporty Chic and Fairytale fashion so everybody gets to look fashionably good without breaking a sweat in our sweltering heat. I mean, we don't have Autumn or Winter here in Malaysia but it doesn't mean we can't look good in their collections, right?

Rakuten Super Sale happening 25th September - 1st October, all day long!

In fact during the period of the Rakuten Super Sale, shoppers are going to be rewarded with money-saving promotions such as the Time Sale event, Everything under RM 99 promotions and bundle + free shipping deals! That's like putting something on sale then slashing the prices again so you practically go a little crazy shopping when you visit the Rakuten website or connect with Rakuten on Facebook or the phone application LINE.

As for me, I've been scurrying the Rakuten website and looking through their Autumn/Winter 2014 fashion trends only to land my eyes on this amazing piece that would be perfect for my cousin's wedding in November.
 
 Stylishly parading the Open Back Skater Dress in Beige from KEI MAG.

Sophisticated yet simple, I'm putting my money on turning a number of heads back (No pun intended) during the upcoming banquet dinner. I left no hesitation to put a piece into my shopping cart even when it is currently on back order because I'm very sure it will come in time for me to lavishly look good when the night comes.

Oh and if you're not one for fashion goods online, Rakuten also holds products in health, beauty, electronic, food (Hint: They have really amazing KitKat flavours!) and grocery categories so nobody has to slip out of their oversized clothes and home pants when they do their shopping. Everything is at the tip of your finger with your computer or phone, anytime and anywhere you are! Happy shopping, people! After all as Rakuten says, shopping is entertainment!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Le Cordon Bleu: To Be A Patissier

Fat Shneep beckons! I hope you all remember when I was at the Churpremiere Screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey thanks to ChurpChurp because today's post is also thanks to them...for letting me win tickets to the cooking demonstration at Le Cordon Bleu that was prepared exclusively for Disney Malaysia!

Thank you, ChurpChurp for the vouchers and Le Cordon Bleu for teaming up with Disney Malaysia for this amazing opportunity!

While I was initially lazy in the morning (And so was my mother!) to attend the cooking demonstration, I puckered all of my energy to get roll off bed and prepared myself to look out for Le Cordon Bleu at Sunway University College at Sunway. For those who don't know, Le Cordon Bleu was set up in 1895 and has embodied the spirit of French cuisine as well as culture in providing the ultimate training in the culinary arts of the contemporary hospitality sector education.

Sunway Le Cordon Bleu.

A place where tradition meets innovation.

Pictures of kitchens all over the walls.

Set up in January 2012, Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia offers 3 month Certificate Programmes in either cuisine or patisserie and by successfully completing all 3 levels of each programme, the student will earn either the Diplome de Commis Cuisinier or Diplome de Commis Patissier. From what I've heard, fees are also fairly competitive!

 Chef Thierry Lerallu.

Our first demo was done by Chef Thierry Lerallu, a chef lecturer at Sunway Le Cordon Bleu who hails from France, Normandy and has always had a passion for bakery and patisserie. Having set foot in Malaysia in several 5 star international hotels, Chef Lerallu moved onto Seoul in South Korea before joining Constance Hotel and Constance Academy and Mauritius IVTB in Mauritius to share his professional knowledge in patisserie.

 Chef Lerallu explaining what it's like to get the perfect temperature in boiling down sugar, glucose and water to make the perfect meringue.

Still hailing with traditional methods like testing with his hands and not with the thermometer.

Students from Sunway Le Cordon Bleu were handpicked by Chef Lerallu to aid him with the demonstration on that very day.

While he prepared us two variants of nougats; the nougat provencal and the nougat au chocolat, Chef Lerallu remained quirky and upbeat with a fun spirit to follow. We were told that this is a no holds barred place and this is how he is in classes too, making me believe that his class would be a fun one. Seriously I've had a lecturer who once put me to sleep because he wouldn't stop yapping and it really didn't help that his classes was ultimately boring subjects.

Chef Lerallu was different however; always chirpy and extremely traditional to a stage where he once dipped his hand into the boiling mixture of glucose, sugar and water to show us what it used to be like for them to know if the temperature was right before the invention of cooking thermometers! Imagine, it's over 148 degrees hot and all he did was dip his hands in cold water for several seconds and plopped his fingers into the heat before popping them in the cold again. I would have been screaming in pain!

Showing us what "soft crack" sugar looks like. By hand.

Pressing down the nougat provencal...

Before slicing them into such goodness that melts in our mouths.

Having loved nougats all my life but not wanting to risk my set of teeth for them is quite a pain, to be honest. According to Chef Lerallu however, there are two types of nougats and what he was preparing were the soft ones and watching them come up from scratch is amazing! Each step was done with such precise care; from the heating to the whipping of meringue and careful care of spreading the nuts around, it made me rethink my every bite of nougat that I've had outside. Imagine all the work these chefs have done for us!

Our bite sized nougats, cut to perfection.

And displayed under a cling wrap...THAT NOBODY CAN SEE!

Slabs of delicious nougat provencal.

We were of course offered little pieces that I couldn't stop eating even when I haven't had breakfast because I absolutely love nougats. Even my mum who isn't much of a fan for sweet things had a go at these nougats and went for thirds or fourths! They were soft and chewy while the nuts gave it such an aromatic tips and a great bite in our mouths so it wasn't just slabs of gunk.

Having said that, I believe that Chef Lerallu definitely makes for a great lecturer and chef as he always believes in teaching his students the basics before handing them what makes their life easier. That would definitely mean there are no mixers in the first few lessons, forcing these students to whip up everything by hand. I cannot, for the life of me imagine what it is like to whip up a meringue because as far as I know, meringues are really difficult. I remember making buttercream by hand once and it was such a horrendous process, I never wanted to make buttercream again! Now, these students would have to do them over and over before they could proceed to learning everything else!

With Chef Thierry Lerallu.

The classroom where Chef Lerallu shows his students how to whip up magic...

And the kitchen where the students ACTUALLY whip up magic.

With over RM 6 million invested in the four kitchens set in Sunway University College, students of Le Cordon Bleu are limited to 16 a class and everyone gets their own counter-tops as well as appliances such as mixers (For the later stage of course. Basic classes are just whips!) and refrigerators just to name a few. We were given a grand tour around the campus to see what it was like and these marble counter-tops was what greeted us in the patisserie kitchen. 

We've been told marble is used so students could leave chocolates or knead dough without the fear of the heat affecting the ingredients. In fact, so much meticulous thought has been put to these preparation that even little things like the temperature of the kitchen has been considered. Entering the patisserie kitchen gave us a chill because it was set significantly colder so the ingredients wouldn't be affected in any way as minor items like sugar, eggs and chocolates could easily give out a different punch should the temperature run just by that little bit.

So this was what it was like to be a patissier and to pick up the ropes on being one at Sunway Le Cordon Bleu. Of course, our demonstration didn't end right there because we were shown back to the hall where a cuisine chef took the center spot so all of us were in awe once again by the professionalism these chef lecturers had. I won't be talking about that just yet though because then this post will be REALLY long. 

If you are free this weekend however, you should just drop by the Malaysian International Gourmet Festival happening at the Sunway Convention Centre from 11 AM onwards (I think?) because that's where Sunway Le Cordon Bleu will be having a booth for such demonstrations and little chances of scholarships for those who are interested in their courses! I'll probably be there on Sunday too so if you're around, remember to holler at me!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

LEGOLAND: The Launch of Star Wars Miniland

Here's a fun question to ask: Do you know how to make a young adult happy?

Jump shot attempt: 3.

You take them to LEGOLAND. Having grown up with these colourful building blocks and reminiscing of times when I snuck into my brother's room to steal a few to add to my collection, being in LEGOLAND is one of the best feelings ever. But of course, I wasn't just there to be fascinated by blocks...

I was there to witness the launch of the LEGO Star Wars Miniland Model Display.

Nothing says excitement like biting on your media tag!

Officially launched on the 3rd of September, the LEGO Star Wars Miniland Model Display houses over 2,000 LEGO models built to a 1:20 scale using over 1.5 million LEGO bricks. It features 7 scenes from the six Star Wars films and The Clone Wars animated series in an octagonal building that has been divided into 8 areas; with each area showing a single scene while the final area is a dedicated retail section for products from the LEGO Star Wars franchise.

The arrival of the squishy Darth Vader. I'll explain why I say "squishy" later.

Mark Germyn, General Manager of LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort giving his speech.

The attraction that costs RM 6 million is built in commemoration of LEGOLAND's second anniversary and half of the models in the display has been shipped from Germany and Czech Republic while the rest were built in Malaysia.

Dato' Dr. Ong Hong Peng, Secretary General of Tourism explaining how LEGOLAND has helped boost tourism in Malaysia.


As you could see from the little boy behind Dato' Dr. Ong Hong Peng, it was fairly stuffy on the day of the launch; possibly from the rain clouds that were shrouding around LEGOLAND the entire day but thankfully enough, the LEGO Star Wars Miniland Model Display is fully air-conditioned so nobody has to battle through sweltering heat as they enjoy the walkthrough.

A hilarious sign outside of the display where you queue to enter. It was made of LEGO, obviously.

 Jar Jar Binks cleaning the floor...

And a frustrated Darth Vader on screen.

Before we were led to experience the amazing displays itself, we were treated to a 5 minute short clip that was not only hilarious but truly set the mood so you could be truly immersed into looking at everything Star Wars from then on. Here are some parts of the scenes we got to walk through:

Episode I: The Phantom Menace - Naboo.

It took over 1,285 hours to create some 237 models in this scene whereby we see the Battle of Naboo and the capital Theed. We were treated to a view of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn fighting the Sith apprentice, Darth Maul and the Theed Palace actually weighs 63kg, taking over 350 hours to build.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones - Geonosis.

Push the button, I say!

Parts of the model displays were also animated by the push of a button, complete with lights and sounds to accommodate to the mood. It was truly an eye-opener for someone like me who has never quite caught on the Star Wars fanhood.

A scene of the Geonosis Arena where Padme Amidala, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker battles ferocious creatures.

This scene has become the most populated scene in the entire display, housing over 247 models and taking up to 1,000 hours to build. In fact, the arena itself was built using 290 hours; an equivalent to 12 days for a single arena!

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Kashyyyk and Mustafar.

With two different planets in one scene, this display shows you the Battle of Kashyyyk - the home to Chewbacca and Wookiees while the other side takes you to the fateful duel on Mustafar between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. There are up to 152 models in this scene; including 30 Wookiees, 30 Scout Troopers, 40 Battle Droids and 15 Dwarf Spiders to boot.

Episode IV: A New Hope - Tatooine.

A look into the Cantina at Mos Eisley.

Weighing 130kg in total, the fourth scene, Tatooine, houses the famous starship of Han Solo, the Millennium Falcon. With a push of a button, the Millennium Falcon lifts off ground and sets back in a matter of 40 seconds so you get to see the intricate detail that has been spent on the model. You can also spot the animated Cantina Band above the spaceport! It took up to 1,098 man hours to build some 126 models in this scene.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back - Hoth.

Take a peek into the icy planet where The Rebels takes refuge in before the Empire tracks them down and The Rebels are forced to flee! This scene features models of the Imperial AT-ATs, Rebel Snowspeeders and Luke Skywalker's X-Wing starfighter and has been built using 1,210 hours, weighing up to 129kgs.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi - Endor.

Darth Vader being delivered on the landing platform of the Imperial shuttle.

The sixth scene takes place in the forest moon and home of Ewoks who fought against the Imperial Forces alongside the Rebels with each tree taking 3 days to create and are moulded from a real tree! The Shield Generator in this scene took up to 220 to build, totalling the building hours to 941 for this scene alone.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Christophsis.

Finally, the display takes us to a scene from the animation series, The Clone Wars on the planet Christophsis. It is the biggest model in the LEGO Star Wars Miniland Display, featuring the 8-foot tall Crystal Building alongside 70 Battle Droids, 40 Super Battle Droids and 50 Clone Troopers.

It seems this isn't the entrance!

With a dedicated retail area for all the fans of Star Wars to pick up little merchandises such as LEGO Star Wars keychains, magnets and box sets, the tour took an end with this scary looking Darth Maul on the outside; warning you that it was just for us to get out from and not to enter. How interesting.

The squishy Darth Vader and I.

Remember when I said the squishy Darth Vader had arrived? Well, here's how I knew he was squishy! Being extremely mischevious at first, Darth Vader refused to look into my camera and instead was constantly fixated on me before I gave his head a little twist and took his (SQUISHY!) arm for a picture perfect moment. It's one of the best shots I've had at the launch and I couldn't get over how adorable the Darth Vader looked, as opposed to being scary as he was supposed to be.

Joel's bombs away moment.

While we were there, obviously we didn't just leave without looking around LEGOLAND itself. With over 70 rides, slides, shows and attractions, LEGOLAND definitely took the inner kid out of us and we had our own moments of enjoyment going around.

Modelling for the LEGO artist.

The joke behind this picture is that Joel said the LEGO artist wasn't doing a very good job as there was nobody for her to paint so we took the liberty to being her "models". Hence the creepy smile from me because that was how the picture looked like...right?

Walking around LEGOLAND with Senri.

One in front of the Project X ride.

We did try out the Project X ride; a ride that features 15 corners and has more twists and turns than any other ride in LEGOLAND. It took great dips from good heights where you can overlook the park itself and is placed at the LEGO Technic park.

Ciao for now, LEGOLAND Malaysia!

Our 5-hour bus ride back to KL soon after it poured in LEGOLAND, Johor was indeed a satisfying one as most of us fell asleep along the way and recharged for whatever endeavors awaited...late at night. Here, I'd like to thank Rantau PR and LEGOLAND Malaysia for the opportunity to be one of the first to witness the launch of the LEGO Star Wars Miniland Display because without it, I probably would have missed out on looking at so many intricate models! Until the next time of releasing my inner child, let's get building LEGOs!