KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 ― The Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) Red Ribbon Gala 2021 this year promises to be one with a difference considering the Covid-19 pandemic.
It will, nevertheless, strive to serve up excellence despite the constraints.
One important thing is the food that will be served up on the night of December 10 at Hilton Kuala Lumpur.
The gala’s food and beverage advisor Nigel Skelchy said the menu has a narrative.
Skelchy said the highlight was how food brought Malaysians closer together especially after the past two years of living with the pandemic.
“I wanted it to reflect that the food needs to be healthy. It needed to talk about ‘Kita Jaga Kita’ where I wanted the ingredients to come from Malaysian suppliers.”
The gala will also feature the Sunway-MAF Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award that has been awarded to 10 recipients since its inception in 1996.
Attendees will be served with a range of dishes from appetisers to desserts specially curated by Hilton Kuala Lumpur executive chef, Kazi Hassan and his team of culinary experts.
Kazi assured that these arrays of fine cuisines will be embedded with the taste of Malaysian authenticity and richness.
The dinner will kickstart with the Tai Ping Popiah Basah which is a deconstructed popiah roll (spring rolls) topped with a juicy Sabah tiger prawn layered with Perak’s dried shrimps, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts along with a slice of senkuang (jicama) at its base.
This is then followed by a serving of a double boiled fish soup with young ginger, tofu, tomato, bamboo fungus, coriander, spring onion along with a keropok udang on the side.
Guests will have a choice of either a Lacto chicken breast stuffed with pucuk paku, or a grilled sea bass marinated with asam pedas for their main dish.
Both of the main courses come with spiced fresh shredded coconut with pegaga leaves (urap) and a bunga telang rice topped with special seven local herb sauces commonly known as percik.
To end the evening, attendees will be served Butir Nangka, a well-known dessert in Kelantan.
It consists of pandan flavoured glutinous dumplings in coconut cream with a straw of gula melaka on the side served with teh tarik ice cream.
Dessert, said Skelchy was paying homage to MAF chairman, Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman who is from the state.
“As you know, Prof Adeeba is the president and the first Asian to hold the chair of the International AIDS Society (IAS) and she’s also one of the members of the World Health Organisation (WHO) science council.
“I want one of the desserts to honour and recognise her achievements,” he said.
Kazi revealed that most of the menu used locally-grown ingredients which is in line with Hilton’s sustainability goals.
“We want to keep it authentic. We do not use any processed foods and we cook it just like how our ancestors or great grandfathers did.
“One of the main focuses for us is using local produce. We have farmers in Brinchang, Cameron Highlands who are growing these vegetables.”
Hilton Kuala Lumpur Banquet Chef De Cuisine Jamsari Mohamad said the process of curating the menu was challenging but fun.
“As you can see in the menu, the seabass is clustered with pucuk paku leaves but the process of clustering it was a bit tricky.
“So, we adapted a Western method by taking breadcrumbs and bits of shredded coconut and we combined them together to make it look clustered,” Jamsari said.
“It’s the same with the Lacto chicken breast as well where we stuffed it with pucuk paku whereas people would commonly stuff it with spinach, but we’ve chosen pucuk paku to give it a Malaysian element.”
Dr Adeeba said aside from embracing the new normal, this year’s gala will be following the theme of traditional Malaysia where it aims to celebrate the richness of local culture.
“And of course, above all of it, it’s still about HIV and AIDS. We still have a lot of work to do, the global goal is to end AIDS by 2030,” she said.
“We have done quite well to reverse it in the last 10 years, but we’ve got more to do and there’s so many advances in HIV treatment that we need to get back to preventing and treating HIV again.”
She added that this year’s gala would be extra special compared to previously as the pandemic had affected people in so many ways but in terms of HIV programmes, the foundation’s partners, organisations and people working on the ground had to work extra hard through the difficulties.
“Although there can only be one winner, it’s in recognition of all the hard work of people in the community to deliver HIV prevention treatment and services,” she said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic had also affected the Gala’s table sales, funding and other HIV related programmes.
To learn more about the Red Ribbon Gala and make your contribution to the MAF, contact Azahemy at 016 646 5874 or click here.
* Malay Mail is the official media partner for the Malaysian AIDS Foundation Red Ribbon Gala 2021 and Sunway-MAF Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award.