Celebrity Chef David Rocco Kick Starts BERJAYA UC’s 10th Anniversary Celebration
Kuala Lumpur: Popular amongst the epicures living in Malaysia is a particular interest in documentaries surrounding the experiences of Western cooks and chefs travelling to South East Asia. The exotic flavours and rich aromas found in this region compel connoisseurs to explore the different dishes found in Malaysia. One such chef to have attracted the interest of Malaysian viewers was Canadian celebrity chef, David Rocco, famous for his documentaries around various parts of the world, being introduced to a diversity of dishes, as well as introducing Italian cuisine to locals.
BERJAYA University College (BERJAYA UC) celebrating its 10th anniversary this year invited Rocco to conduct a culinary demonstration for students as well as curate an exclusive sit down dinner featuring dishes from his Dolce Vita travel series last Saturday, 19th January 2019.
In the cooking demo, Rocco introduced to the students Italian style of cooking passed down from generations. He prepared beet risotto using beet root juice reduction, garnished with Parmigiano cheese and finished with olive oil. While preparing the dish, Rocco stressed the importance of the best quality ingredients when it comes to Italian cuisine: if a single ingredient was either missing or of a lower quality, the flavour of the overall dish would be affected. Laughter echoed through the room as he sprinkled a generous amount of Parmigiano cheese into the risotto, and advised the students that if any Italian dish does not seem completely right, one must add more Parmigiano, describing this particular type of cheese as “the Western version of MSG.”
Rocco enthralled the students with narratives of his background, experiences and road to stardom. Much to the amusement of the students, he suggested that if they want to be famous, take up a degree in acting. He also noted that despite his exhaustion from travelling, the “energy and excitement” of the students gave him the “lift that he needed” to conduct the sharing session with them. It was evident that his passion for food and love for Italian culture were Rocco’s motivators.
That evening, invited guests were given the opportunity to sample Chef Rocco’s dishes in an exclusive sit-down dinner, consisting of a decadent four-course meal. The menu comprised of traditional tomato panzanella salad, carpaccio di manzo with whipped truffle ricotta, beet risotto and lamb ragout pasta al Forno Dolce, coffee panna cota with almond biscotti. The meal was prepared meticulously by students and Chef Lecturers from the Faculty of Culinary Arts under the watchful eye of Rocco to ensure top notch quality ingredients available in the local market and served exquisitely by students from the School of Hospitality. Rocco introduced each dish, describing their origins and key ingredients used. Before the beet risotto was served, a showcase of Chef Rocco’s Dolce Africa was displayed, where he was seen drinking cow’s blood as part of a culture he encountered; he likened the appearance to his risotto dish, much to the combined amusement and horror of the guests.
Guests took the opportunity to have small chats with the Celebrity Chef, exploring a myriad of topics, ranging from expressing their admiration for Rocco’s work around the world to discussing one’s passion for intercontinental cuisine. Guests were also able to take photos with Rocco during the course of the dinner.
Mae Ho, Executive Director and CEO of BERJAYA Higher Education Sdn Bhd said that “David is here tonight to kick start our 10th Anniversary Celebrations. We have planned a series of events the whole year to highlight the traditions, culture and values ensconced in our being. It is also the time to reflect and acknowledge members of the community and our industry partners who have helped shaped who we are today.”
Dato Kok Wee Kiat added “Thank you David for educating my complicated palate with the beauty and simplicity of Italian food.”
In closing, Rocco commented, “tonight’s dinner is not about Chef David Rocco, it is about celebrating the students in this amazing University College. There are so many elements unknown to the diner and I would like to congratulate the real stars of the evening. I get the glamour and get to mingle with the guests this evening but the students took it upon themselves to execute the dinner and they did a fantastic job and I’m really proud of them. It is not easy to do a risotto for 50 people and its one of the biggest challenges encountered. The young and talented students are the future of the culinary arts industry here in Malaysia. “