We just had a terrific meal at Favola, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur today, and it was all thanks to visiting guest chef, Chef Stefano Merlo who is from Rossini’s, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok, Thailand. When we asked him if he liked Kuala Lumpur, he replied, very much, but it was actually only his very first time visiting Malaysia. For this entire week, from the 15th – 21th of April 2012, Chef Stefano will be cooking up some terrific, classical Italian dishes and if you want to meet this master of Italian cuisine, do swing by Favola to sample his personal touch and flair that’s added to his menu.
A native of Padua in northern Italy, Chef Stefano has worked alongside with many highly respected chefs in prestigious restaurants around the world, including the chefs from Michelin-starred hotels, one of them being Chef Alfredo Russo. His extraordinary skills and a desire for new challenges led him to Tokyo and the renowned Relais & Châteaux – Restaurant Enoteca Pinchiorri. Regarded as one of the finest Italian restaurants in Japan, it was here that he worked alongside respected Head Chef, Toshikazu Tsuji.
Chef Stefano Merlo
A high point of Chef Stefano’s career and for Rossini’s is his collaboration with Chef Alfredo Russo, the distinguished chef from Michelin-star restaurant, “Il Dolce Stil Novo” in Turin who is acknowledged as being at the forefront of the “New Italian Style”. The two gifted chefs worked closely together to create a special a la carte and tasting menu at Rossini’s and helped establish a cellar of exceptional wines to complement the cuisine. Their collaborative effort draws on Italy’s rich food heritage to produce a menu of modern dishes that reflect contemporary tastes and a flair for creative presentation.
Chef Antoine Rodriguez introduces guest chef Stefano Merlo
With Guest Chef Stefano at the helm, discerning diners will enjoy Chef Stefano’s gourmet delights that blends Italy’s rich culinary traditions with a contemporary twist. Some of his Italian creations include, the foie gras and raspberry, lobster salad with chickpeas and green pepper emulsion, risotto with seafood and sea foam, Wagyu ribeye “pizzaiola” style, citrus scented roasted duck leg, milk risotto with cherry parfait, just to name few. Chef Stefano’s exquisite cuisine will be served for dinner only between the 15th – 21th of April 2012. A la carte dishes are priced anywhere between RM 30++ – RM 250++. A 4-course set menu is also available at RM 300nett per person, while the 4-course set menu with wine pairing is priced at RM 450nett per person. Starwood Privilege members – entitled to 20% off and Facebook fans – entitled to 20% off – Reservations via Facebook required.
We were invited for a preview of his cooking and he whipped up for us in no time, a nice amuse bouche of Artichokes Frittata, a steamy, fragrant Seafood Risotto and finally, a heartwarming, comfort food sort of dessert- the Milk Risotto with Cherry Parfait. All were equally unctuous and well prepared and here are the pictures taken from our live session with Chef Stefano..
Dish 1: Artichokes Frittata
To start off, Chef Stefano, says that he will show us how to make a simple, impressive looking frittata, which does well to be served as an amuse bouche
What is a Frittata? Says Chef Stefano, the frittata is a classic Italian dish, similar in composition to an omelet. Unlike an omelet, however, the egg mixture is not folded over and finished on the stove top. Most variants of the frittata start with a few moments on the stove top until the bottom layer of the egg mixture has solidified. Once it is part solidified, this contemporary frittata is blended in a blender with cream, and then served with artichoke, crouton, shiso cress and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
Chef Stefano making the frittata
Check out the creamy consistency of the frittata – this is obviously a contemporary form of the classic
Perfect to be served as an amuse bouche.
Note the airy yet creamy consistency of the frittata. This is garnished with artichoke, croutons, shiso cress and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). The egg-y flavour of the frittata is tempered with cream. Artichokes give it a more complete and almost “meaty” texture and taste. The overall experience eating this frittata can be described as light, airy and creamy!
And all the hungry people go.. Oooooo!
Dish 2: Seafood Risotto
Next up is the seafood risotto.
Apparently, making a good risotto is rather like riding a bicycle. It takes a little bit of practice to begin with, and a certain amount of concentration thereafter. But once you learn to make it perfect, you hardly forget! Risotto is also very sensitive to timing, and you need to keep stirring it for the entire duration, as it slowly cooks. We learned from Chef Stefano, that different grains will give you a different sort of risotto (and therefore different timing to cook). When buying rice to make a risotto, choose short-grained round or semi-round rice. Amongst the best rices for making risotti are Arborio, Vialone Nano, and Carnaroli.
As the risotto cooks you need to keep stirring it and adding the seafood stock (clams and mussels stock) that you have made earlier. This will prevent the risotto from burning. As it gently cooks, the grains expand giving it that characteristic plump look. The risotto should be cooked till al dente , then it is ready to be served.
I learned something new from Chef Stefano. Apparently lecithin (which is good for lowering cholesterol) is also good for creating a light airy foam, that completes this risotto dish. Chef Stefano whisks the mixture of lecithin and seafood stock, till you get a perfect white foam. This goes on top of the risotto. Chef Stefano toss the risotto just before it is served. The seafood is cooked separately in this case, so that it retains its flavour and texture.
Ta-dah! The Seafood Risotto we’ve all been waiting patiently to eat. Tasty as hell!
And all the hungry people go… Ahhhhhh!
Dish 3: Milk Risotto with Cherry Parfait
Ah, this was a fabulous dessert to end the day’s cooking presentation with
Just looking at the end result (bottom right) who can resist the loveliness and chic modern vibes of this good old fashioned Italian dessert? The milk risotto with cherry parfait, was not too sweet, and had a tangy sour bite to it, conferred by the sorbet. The risotto was served cold, and created a perfect balance of temperature vs. flavour in the mouth. The garnish, a small piece homemade chocolate that imitates the cherry stem gave the cherry a charming and realistic look. A fabulous dessert. Very modern, very chic! I loved it!
And as if that wasn’t enough great food, after the cooking demonstration by Chef Stefano, lunch was served at Favola, courtesy of Chef Antoine Rodriguez’s kitchen!
The Pasta and Chef Connection!
Yen digs in and says the food is fab!
Food at Favola never fails to impress
The pastas are irresistible and so are the pizzas..
Dish after dish of fabulous Italian flavour.. can one ask for more?
As a grand finale, only the crispy, billowy Italian Waffles from Favola will do, completed with generous dollops of butter, maple syrup and of course Vanilla ice-cream.. and with that.. we conclude lunch!
Chef Stefano’s exquisite cuisine will be served for dinner only between the 15th – 21th of April 2012. A la carte dishes are priced anywhere between RM 30++ – RM 250++. A 4-course set menu is also available at RM 300nett per person, while the 4-course set menu with wine pairing is priced at RM 450nett per person. Starwood Privilege members – entitled to 20% off and Facebook fans – entitled to 20% off – Reservations via Facebook required.Add: Favola, Level 8, Le Meridien KL, 2 Jalan Stesen Sentral, 50470 K.L. Tel – 603 2263 7888, 603- 2263 7434 Fax – 603 2263 7222