The Kita Food Festival, which celebrates the culinary culture of Southeast Asia, returns this year, kicking off events in Kuching, Malaysia on Sept 27.
The festival showcases an array of experiences with some of the finest chefs, winemakers and food thinkers from around the globe. The goal of the festival is to put a spotlight on Southeast Asia’s emerging food scene and to offer inspiration for the next generation of food producers. The word Kita means “us” or “we” in Malay, which signifies that the festival is about embracing all cultures and bringing food lovers together to enjoy the act of sharing and learning about sustainable food production with the theme “We Are One”.
Founded by Malaysian chef Darren Teoh of the Michelin-starred Dewakan and N0.74 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 in Kuala Lumpur; Australia food and travel journalist Leisa Tyler; and Malaysian Adrian Yap, founder of Tiffin Culinary, the festival also will be held in Singapore this year. Guest curator for the Singapore Weekender event is chef Ivan Brehm from the Michelin-starred restaurant Nouri and creative space Appetite. “The Kita Food Festival stands as a unique attempt for the region to ask questions specific to its reality on the ground. An opportunity not only to discuss the most relevant and pressing issues found in our industry, but a way to cultivate and rejuvenate a community outside of our competition and content starved day to day,” says chef Brehm.
After opening in Kuching, the festival moves to Penang from Oct 13-16, then Singapore from Oct 19-23 and end sin Kuala Lumpur from Oct 26-30. The festival will feature fine dining and casual dining events, along with two Big Sunday Barbecues and The Great Mezze. “While the 2021 Kita festival was localised due to closed borders and the 2022 festival featured chefs and speakers from across Southeast Asia, 2023 will cast an even wider net, with chefs, culinary historians and business leaders from across the world”, says co-founder Leisa Tyler.
It will also include a series of Ted-style talks and symposiums titled “Kita Conversations” with discussions from chefs, food producers, historians, anthropologists and food suppliers all talking about what is pertinent to the industry here and now, such as sustainability, food waste, and how to make a business profitable. "Kita Conversations hopes to be a catalyst for a positive conversation around food that isn't always discussed in this region. A lot of the people we are inviting aren't only good cooks but some of the most original thinkers surrounding food in the world. Kita Conversations is an F&B industry-led event, for the industry,” adds chef Teoh.
Another highlight will be “Horizons”, a free-to-attend mentorship programne, which is designed to broaden the horizons of Malaysia’s next generation of chefs. The programme will include 12 hand-picked young chefs (below the age of 28), who have demonstrated a commitment to their craft. The chefs will be taken on a journey of culinary experiences and farm experiences around Malaysia, and will be mentored by some of Kuala Lumpur’s top chefs.
Confirmed events are:
• On Sept 27, a casual dining event with chef Anthony Yeoh (Summer Hill, Singapore) and chef John Lim (Roots Bistronomy).
• On Oct 13, New Zealand’s Vaughan Mabee from Amisfield will collaborate with Malaysian Kim Hock Su at Michelin-starred Au Jardin. The dinner will showcase the two chef’s culinary skills using fresh artisanal produce.
• On Oct 13, chef Hans Christian of Jakarta’s August will bring his globally-inspired flavours for two dinners with Johnson Wong at Gēn, a restaurant known for its modern Malaysian cuisine.
• On Oct 14, the “Communal Table By Gēn” will see Singapore’s Malcolm Lee from Michelin-starred Candlenut takeover the kitchen.
• On Oct 15, The Great Mezze brings eight chefs from Singapore and Penang, two to a counter, working over open flames with Malaysia’s finest produce in the courtyard of China House in Penang. The event will feature an international acclaimed mixologist, live music, a DJ, natural wines and a dance floor. The chefs are Mohamed Al Matin from Le Matin Patisserie and Mathijs Nanne from Suffolk House; Eugene See from Birds Of A Feather and Nurilkarim Razha from Jawi House; MJ Teoh from Native and CC Lee from Juju Lounge; and chef Lee from Candlenut and Wagyu Tan from Communal Table By Gēn.
From Oct 19-23, The Singapore Weekender with chef Ivan Brehm includes fine dining and casual dining events, Big Sunday Barbecue and Kita Conversations.
• On Oct 19-20, join a four-hand dinner at Marguerite where India’s Prateek Sadhu will join forces with Michael Wilson from Marguerite to create a thoughtful menu based on Sadhu’s quest to discover the lost ingredients of India, with Wilson’s worldly cuisine.
• On Oct 20, a four-hand lunch and dinner at Fico Masseria with Italian chef Mirko Febbrile from Fico Masseria and author Anissa Helou.
• On Oct 20, a four-hand dinner at Underdog Inn will be presented by Australian chefs Matt Stone from Mosey On Inn and Pete Smit from Underdog Inn.
• On Oct 20-21, expect a six-hand dinner at Fiz with chef Brehm, Deepanker Khosla from Haoma in Bangkok and chef-owner of Singapore’s Fiz, Hafizzul Hashim.
• On Oct 21, there will be a six-hand lunch and dinner at Kubo with avant garde Filipino chefs Ross Magnaye from Serai Kitchen in Melbourne, John Kevin Navoa from Hapag in Manila and Kurt Sombero from Kubo.
• On Oct 22, the Big Sunday Barbecue will see an all-star line-up of Singapore’s best up-and-coming chefs and hottest barbecue restaurants. There will be eight chefs, each paired into four teams. Each team will rein command over a barbecue, flame grilling an array of dishes throughout the evening. Rounding out the barbecue will be great tunes, craft beers, cocktails and more. Chefs will be Marcus Tan, David Tang, Matteo Ponti, Al Goh, Son Pham and Ahmir Arshad.
• On Oct 23, Kita Conversations will be held with chef Matt Orlando, Denmark-based sustainable food movement leader; London-based chef, teacher and author Helou who specialises in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African cuisines; author of “The Food Of Singapore Malays: Gastronomic Travels Through The Archipelago”, Khir Johari, who specialises in Malay history and how food has played a part in shaping Singapore-Malay culture; chef Sadhu; Nithiya Laila, TV presenter; Dr Farshad Shishehchian from Blue Aqua, a pioneer in inland aquaculture and the inventor of MixotrophicTM system, a super-intensive but fully-sustainable shrimp and fish-farming system; chef Stone; chef and author Will Goldfarb from Ubud’s Room4Dessert; chef Smit, known for his “nose-to-tail” approach to cooking using open fire grilling and smoked goods techniques; and Masterchef Australia winner Diana Chan.
• On Oct 26, a fine dining event at Dewakan with chef Teoh along with chef René Stein from Michelin-starred Tisane in Germany.
• On Oct 26, dinner sees chefs Julien Mercier from Singapore’s Claudine and Japanese Masashi Horiuchi from Entier create fine bistro plates and sharing style dishes, all set against the skyline backdrop of the 43rd floor of Entier at the Alila Hotel.
• On Oct 27, an upbeat party vibe, funky tunes and feisty Spanish Mexican tapas set the night for dinner at Mano with Mexican Sergio Meza and Spanish Chele Gonzalez from Gallery By Chele.
• On Oct 27-28, dinner at Hide will see a French-inspired omakase from chefs Takeshi “Goh” Fukuyama from La Maison De La Nature Goh and GohGan, and Malaysia’s Shaun Ng from Hide.
• On Oct 28, dinner at Ignis will showcase one of the top female Japanese chefs, Keiko Kuwakino from Michelin-starred Sanaburi in Niigata, who cooks with Lroy Lim at Ignis.
• On Oct 29, the Big Sunday Barbecue will present a coterie of some of the region’s best grill masters, who will grill meat, seafood and vegetables — all with a zero-waste approach to turn ugly food into beautiful creations at Tiffin At The Yard. Chefs on service will be Jovan Goh and Mohammed Eliyaz; Oliver Truesdale-Justra and Michael Yee; Carlos Montobbio and Leong Chee Mun; and David Tang and Mandy Goh.
• On Oct 30, concluding the festival will be another round of Kita Conversations. Speakers include, Johari; Laila; chef David Thompson; chef Moustafa Elrefaey from Zooba; food anthropologist Dr Eric Olmedo; Light Blue founder Benjamin Lephilibert; chef Gonzalez and chef Trusdale-Jutras.
The Kita Food Festival tickets go on sale from Aug 11. Email email@example.com or visit kitafoodfestival.com.