Friday, August 10, 2012

Hennessy XO Appreciation Grows With Edward Lee - Part 1 of 4

Actually, this Edward Lee fellow was in town quite a while back, and the wonderful meal that was hosted by Moet Hennessy Diageo was in the now closed Equatorial Hotel in KL. A fascinating choice of venue, as the hotel had already closed its doors to the public, for its big rebuilding project, ...but in typical Hennessy Style, one last hurrah seemed befitting for this old KL Dame, and the place was transformed beyond recognition, inside. We were left to guess where we were in relation to the original the place was totally camouflaged with the dark drapes that have become the Hennessy XO Appreciation Dinners trademarks.

I digress, and will post about the meal eventually, but we have recently been fed with some interesting video footage of the Chef's tour around KL, starting with a visit to the Selayang Market. To be honest, I am very surprised that he could not identify galangal, and nor has he ever laid eyes on tumeric in its original form. I mean, he's a "Lee" you know. I love his description of petai, ...funky ....

Check out Chef Edward Lee's Biodata here:

Chef Edward Lee’s story – and his food – could only happen in America. One part Southern
soul, one part Asian spice, and one part New York attitude, Lee is a Korean-American who
grew up in Brooklyn, trained in classical French kitchens, and has spent the better part of a
decade cooking in Louisville, Kentucky.

Lee’s passion for food is only surpassed by his sense of adventure; it is, after all, what took him
to Louisville from a successful career in New York City. In 2001, on a cross-country road trip,
Lee wound up in Louisville during Derby Week, the busiest dining week of the year. On a tip
from a friend, he sought out the eccentric chef of a local gem called 610 Magnolia, finagling an
invitation to work in the kitchen for the week. Impressed with Lee’s passion and skill, the chef
offered him the restaurant less than a year later, and his Southern adventures began. The rest is

Chef Lee’s idiosyncratic culinary style draws inspiration from his Asian heritage, his classical
training, and his adoptive hometown, while celebrating the best ingredients from local farms.
But far from relegating him to the realm of the outsider, Lee’s patchwork cuisine has attracted
attention and acclaim. A James Beard finalist for Best Chef: Southeast in 2011, he has been
featured in Gourmet and Esquire magazines, defeated Iron Chef Jose Garces on Food Network’s
“Iron Chef America,” appeared on the CBS “Early Show” preparing an eclectic three-course

meal for a family of four for under $40, and was most recently seen on “Top Chef: Texas.” Chef
Lee enjoys and continues to explore his writing career as a contributor to Gastronomica, Organic
Gardening, and others in addition to penning an upcoming cookbook of recipes and stories
chronicling his unconventional journey from Brooklyn to a lauded Southern Chef.

Lee continues to seek out adventure, whether fishing bare-handed in a Kentucky creek, hunting
for venison, working in a slaughterhouse or dropping in on a friend’s restaurant to cook for a
few days. He approaches his professional and culinary life with candor, humor, and – most
importantly – the same spirit of adventure that was the original impetus for his success.

To learn more about Chef Lee, please visit and follow Chef Lee on


With appreciation comes true knowledge; quality cues are discovered and connoisseurs created. This is true of luxury products, including cognac and Hennessy X.O. This journey towards understanding the quality of Hennessy X.O begins with Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows – a series of events related to gastronomy, where at every stage the potential connoisseur will further his understanding of the making of cognac, the understanding of the history of the Hennessy brand and the quality of Hennessy X.O, a result of which would be his greater appreciation of Hennessy X.O. “Hennessy X.O is a very complex drink and it goes well with many different dishes,” said Frederic Noyere, Managing Director of Moët Hennessy Diageo Malaysia, “The reason being that Hennessy X.O is a blend of hundreds of different eaux-de-vie; some are younger, some are older, some have more floral notes while others possess woodier notes.”

This year Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows Gastronomy finds a true match in three-time James Beard semi-finalist for Best Chef Edward Lee, who trained in classical French kitchens, and has tempered this experience with the better part of a decade cooking in 610 Magnolia. “Heritage is the ability to source from your past but then re-invent it, give it a twist and as a result, make it contemporary. At Hennessy we have 250 years of heritage but at the same time Hennessy has always been at the forefront of innovation. Chef Edward Lee’s journey draws a similar parallel to Hennessy X.O in that he endeavours to modernize the various influences – Asian, French and the Deep South in his cuisine,” added Noyere.

Prior to the upcoming Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows event to be held in mid-April, Korean-American Chef Edward Lee, who has challenged culinary royalty on Iron Chef America and won, spent a week immersing himself in the heritage and cultural diversity of Malaysia by literally “eating his way through Kuala Lumpur” in a journey taking him from one revealing mouthful to the next.

Key highlights of his gastronomic journey included:
Selayang Wholesale Market: Catching the market just as it is picking up, Chef explores a veritable hub of raw ingredients collected from various local sources as they are about to be distributed to smaller traders, and residential markets in and around Kuala Lumpur. Key highlights include sampling raw petai (bitter bean) and chillies, getting acquainted with the diversity of local produce from a variety of limes, and the smell of fresh of fresh lengkuas (galangal) and kunyit (turmeric) – a key ingredient for many Malaysian dishes.

Jalan Tun HS Lee: Stepping away from the market, Chef primes himself for a taste of the local street food which has developed and refined over generations of Malaysian tastebuds. Here, he tucks into hearty serves of curry laksa, assam laksa, chee cheong fun, yong tau foo, washing it all down with a helping of cendol. For a chef used to mostly salty and sweet flavour profiles, the amalgamation of different ingredients in assam laksa into the perfect balance of salty, sweet, spicy, sour and bitter reminds the chef of the complex layering of the precious eaux-de-vie that results in the perfectly balanced Hennessy X.O cognac he has come to love.
Petaling Street, Chinatown: Key to Chef’s interest here are the fruit stalls hawking local fruits from mangoes, bananas and papayas to the queen of all fruits, mangosteens. Of course another ‘must try’ is the local mata kucing drink – sweet, refreshing and restorative in the afternoon heat. Salted roast duck from Sei Ngan Chai (Four Eyed Man) is a fiercely guarded local secret, but Chef’s charms on the stall proprietor earn him an extra bonus treat of braised duck liver wrapped in its own intestine.

Brickfields: In the heart of Little India, a stop is made to indulge in a Malaysian institution, banana leaf rice followed by a spot of teh tarik (pulled tea) – where Chef gets hands on as he tries a hand at banana leaf and then pulling his own cup of tea.

Publika: To experience how urban Malaysians live their lives in the city, Chef takes a brief pause from the heritage trail to indulge in contemporary coffee culture.

As the day draws to a close, Chef Edward Lee finds himself absorbing, understanding and reformulating all he has seen, heard and tasted in this whirlwind nonstop eating journey through the city for the upcoming Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows dinner. The journey through the gastronomic heart of KL has certainly sparked key moments and generous insights into Malaysia, her diversity of food influences and contemporary take on classics serving as a launch-pad for conceptualizing his much-anticipated menu come April.
About Hennessy
Hennessy is the world’s leading premium cognac brand. Founded in 1765, the house of Hennessy has continually strived to create the world’s finest cognacs.

Hennessy is a master of the art of blending fine aged cognac eaux-de-vie and has been creating fine cognac for seven generations. This heritage and savoir-faire has earned Hennessy Cognac world-wide renown and the appreciation of today's greatest cognac connoisseurs, making the brand the world’s number one cognac and one of the world’s most sophisticated spirits.

About Moet Hennessy Diageo Malaysia Sdn Bhd
Moët Hennessy Diageo Malaysia (formally known as Riche Monde Malaysia) was set up in 1980 as a joint venture between Jas. Hennessy & Co. in France and the local partner, Boustead Holdings Berhad. Now its shareholders include Moet Hennessy (LVMH Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton) and Diageo PLC.
MHD is the recognised industry leader in the marketing and distribution of premium branded spirits, champagnes and fine wines in Malaysia. Our portfolio includes some of the most well-known premium brands such as Hennessy cognac, Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon and Krug champagne. Johnnie Walker Scotch Whiskies, Glenmorangie Single Malt, Belvedere Vodka, Grand Marnier, Gordon’s Gin, Smirnoff Vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream as well as a wide range of quality wines from traditional and New World countries.
For further information, kindly visit and

For more information, please contact:
May Sze Tan
Tel: 012 555 2462

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