Chef Chai Chun Boon has hit the ground running ever since he was appointed Senior Chef de Cuisine at The Datai Langkawi in April this year. Not only has he welcomed a small but select number of Malaysian industry peers to the resort’s kitchens for The Chef Series – 2022, but in a handful of months, he’s also created a 10-course degustation menu for guests at The Dining Room.
It certainly helps that the Sarawak-born chef brings with him a wealth of experience gained from cooking at Michelin-starred establishments, such as those of chefs Xavier Pellicer and Sergio Herman, as well as at his own Kuala Lumpur restaurant, Copper. Beyond that, the culinary philosophy of Chef Chai Chun Boon is completely aligned with The Datai Langkawi’s commitment to sustainability, with a view towards continuing the kitchen team’s sustainable purchasing practices and highlighting the unique quality of local Malaysian produce.
“We use diverse ingredients from our region, whether foraged or grown responsibly, caught or farmed sustainably, whenever possible,” Chai elaborates. “It doesn’t make sense to import baby carrots grown 10,000 kilometres away and then hope they’ll be as delicious as when they were freshly harvested. Why use imported pineapples when we can support farmers who grow them just 15 minutes from The Datai Langkawi? The best cold-pressed, extra virgin coconut oil is being made on this island as we speak. Supporting our local farmers cuts down our carbon footprint, encourages and sustains our island’s economy, and the fresh aromatics are packed full of flavour.”
His gastronomic journey (prices start from RM750), which currently features his Tribute Royale – a velvety organic egg with truffle, jungle garlic and caviar that long-standing fans will recognise from his Copper days – is Chai’s way of honouring Malaysia’s earth and seas. “I knew I needed to craft a solid narrative of the why, what and how food is served in The Dining Room,” he explains. “It shouldn’t need much storytelling. The food should be great enough to conjure most of the message. All of these exceptional ingredients have, in turn, shown me how the cooking should be done at this exceptional hotel.”