Kicking off in epic fashion, the Gala Launch of the Malaysia International Gastronomy Festival set into motion the culinary calendar’s most anticipated event featuring Malaysia’s best restaurants. “Gastronomical glitterati of Malaysia, bon vivants and bon viveurs, culinary cavalry men and gustatory gladiators…welcome one and all,” announced MIGF Organising Chairman Dato’ Steve Day as he stood on stage in the Theatre of Cuisines, welcoming the masses to the launch of the 17th MIGF. He addressed a crowd of over 2,000, comprising captains of industry, celebrities, ambassadors and the who’s who of Malaysian society. Among these were Festival Royal Patron, Tunku Naquiyuddin ibni Tunku Ja’afar and the Most Honoured Guest Datuk Yean Yoke Heng, Deputy Secretary General (Management) of Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia. The auspicious occasion was made extra special as it coincided with Malaysia’s National Day, and as Dato’ Steve bellowed out a “Selamat Hari Merdeka,” the crowd whooped and cheered with rapturous applause. All around them and positioned on the perimeter of the Theatre of Cuisines was a stunning display of 27 elaborate restaurant stations, each of them a one-of-a-kind booth from which they offered their fare. Guests thronged these stations as soon as the doors to the Theatre of Cuisines were opened, eager to try the bite-sized samples of the unique Festival Menus the restaurants will be offering during September. From progressive Japanese to authentic Italian, this year’s diverse line-up includes food from around the world and something to suit everyone’s palate. The masterminds behind these menus and the stars of the festival are the Muhibah Chefs of MIGF 2018 – and these were introduced with Malaysian flags in hand one-by-one on stage, culminating in a spray of confetti while they posed for pictures with the Organising Chairman, Royal Patron, Most Honoured Guest and Festival Partners. Muhibah is the Malay word for ‘goodwill’, and is used to denote friendly feelings. The theme of this year’s festival, ‘Muhibah Chefs! Good Food Brings Us Together’, reflects the capacity of the Festival chefs and restaurants to put aside their differences and work together for the greater good. It also illustrates the power of food and its ability to unite society. “Food is the unifying factor of all Malaysians. No matter our political affiliations and our religious beliefs, food unifies us all,” said Datuk Yean as he addressed foodies at his first ever Festival Gala Launch. And with that, an massive wok was carried on to the stage for all those gathered there to partake in a culinary muhibah session – mixing and stirring together a traditional Malaysian dish while the cameras flashed. With the Theatre in full swing, Dato’ Steve, Tunku Naquiyuddin and Datuk Yean took a tour of the restaurant stations, stopping to chat with each chef while they sampled the food. During their Super Gourmet Safari and next to SukaSucré Bistro, the trio tried their own hands at some culinary action with Dato’ Fazley Yaakob who demonstrated his prowess on the Sweet Table – a larger-than-life-dessert ‘plated’ directly on to a table.