If you’ve been an avid follower of Dewakan restaurant on Instagram, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that its chef and founder, Darren Teoh, has been collaborating with chefs from around the world – including Tom Halpin, ex sous chef of two-Michelin-starred restaurant Noma (ranked 'Best Restaurant in the World' in 2010 to 2012 and 2014), and Chef Ross Magnaye of Melbourne’s Rice Paper Sister – to plot exciting menus. Bringing his know-how to Dewakan’s kitchen this time around is Chef Kristian Baumann, the Korean-born Dane who opened the acclaimed 108 Restaurant in Copenhagen with his mentor and co-owner of the famed Noma, René Redzepi.
Chefs are turning the most quotidian practices, like eating and cooking, into an adventure, prompting us to look beyond individual ingredients and explore the source of what goes on our table. We relish food that impresses, even more so simple, earnest cooking that lavishes attention on humble ingredients. Because most of the time, we’re not looking for a glamorous spin on say, spaghetti – we’re just looking for a spaghetti done well.
Food, essentially, is concocted in a cultural melting pot. It continues to reinvent itself because it is to be interpreted as you wish. And this is precisely why chef collaborations are great fun – they bridge the boundaries of geographic distance and knowledge, all while speaking the same language of food. Chefs may be obsessed with their food heritage – it’s a culinary patriotism almost – but there’s no denying that they’re equally excited about how a local pride such as the buah keluak, ulam raja or the bunga kantan (Teoh’s favourite ingredient, by the way) is going to hold its own or transform in a Nordic kitchen like 108’s.
Naturally, there’s no better way of getting to know a country and narrowing a cultural divide than visiting the local markets. Before the advent of glossy cookbooks, which sometimes romanticise the food we grew up with, wet markets – like the Pasar Besar TTDI Teoh brought Baumann and Mia Boland (sous chef of 108) to – were and still are the foremost educational systems that teach us how food is grown. They serve as a reminder – while crediting the integrity of farmers and fishers who produce and source fresh ingredients – that every meal that’s being put forth by chefs, our grandmothers or our mothers is truly a labour of love.
Therefore, the biggest stars of the night at Dewakan’s culinary crossover, would be none other than the ingredients. The menu for this elaborate 11-course sit-down dinner is kept under wraps, but trust Teoh and Baumann to sneak in little surprises with ingredients that are indigenous to the Malay archipelago. This celebration of modern dining will be a compelling experience and lesson for not just the two chefs, but also diners, to discover their home state’s culinary riches. Watch their trip to the TTDI market below:
Dewakan x Kristian Baumann will be held for two nights on Nov 10 & 11, 7.30pm to 9.30pm at Dewakan, lower ground floor, KDU University College, Utropolis Glenmarie, Jalan Kontraktor U1/14, Seksyen U1, Shah Alam. RM450 per pax with wine pairing.