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Who’s the chef running Malaysia’s first Dior Café?

Chef Raymond Tham runs the Dior Café, as the one-of-a-kind dining experience arrives in Malaysia for the first time, taking place from 18 to 22 November 2021 at Colony Star Boulevard, Kuala Lumpur alongside the showcase of Dior Cruise 2022 collection.

Dior brings the Cruise 2022 season to Kuala Lumpur with an immersive experience comprising an exclusive showcase of the collection. The Dior Cruise 2022 celebrates the eternal beauty of Greece with silhouettes adopting a resolutely contemporary sportswear style where cuts are loose and supple, as well as boldly matched and mixed motifs.

Along with the enchanting showcase combining past and present, there will also be the highly anticipated Dior Café. The first of its kind in Malaysia, Dior Café will take place at the iconic roof top of Colony Star Boulevard. With the immaculate vista of the Twin Towers, diners will immerse in an epic experience in the evenings with a soiree-like atmosphere amidst the garden-themed setting. 

The Dior Cafe at the rooftop.

There will also be seatings at the 5th floor, set indoors with views of the city and plenty of Instagram-worthy corners for photo opportunities. On the menu is a Greek-forward creations curated by Chef Raymond Tham of Skillet@163 and Beta KL. The charismatic chef will present the All-Day Menu consisting of cold and warm dishes, desserts, as well as a bevy of beverages to savour.

Ahead of the exciting event, we speak to Chef Raymond Tham on his inspiration behind the menu and his thoughts running the first Dior Café in Malaysia.

Chef Raymond Tham for Dior Cafe
Chef Raymond Tham

Firstly, share with us your first reaction when you were asked to curate the menu for Dior Café.

I was over the moon especially since I’ve been following the journey of Maria Grazia Chiuri. Through her creations, I’ve also managed to get some inspirations to curate the menu for the first Dior Café.

What would be the highlights of this collaborative menu that guests to the Dior Café can expect?

Some of the standout dishes include the Local Calamari with Courgette Salad  served with Umami Walnut made out of dehydrated fish bone and trimmings to promote zero-waste concept in cooking. We also want to support local produce when creating this dish.  The Poached Lobster with Compressed Watermelon, Fermented Tomato and Grilled Bell Pepper served with Beurre Noisette Foam is also another must-try — a dish using French technique while incorporating watermelon that is commonly used in Greek cuisine.  I also added fermented tomato into the repertoire to give a hint of acidity and complexity to the dish.

Other dishes with a Greek narrative include the Kataifi Pastry Poached Egg and Autumn Truffles; as well as the Gyros Spiced Chicken with Spinach and Lemon Curd in Filo Cup, which is inspired by a Greek street food. For desserts, sample the Semolina and Pistachio Cake with Tahini Cream, as well as the Chocolate Pain de Genes with Greek Coffee.

What’s the inspiration behind the menu that you’ve created for Dior Café?

Dior Cruise 2022 is about movement, freedom, and the athletic spirit inspired by the Greek goddess. This menu will feature a blend of Greek sensibilities and the French spirit of Maison Dior. Diners can expect some classic French flavours with a Greek twist on the menu.

I’ve also lost more than 30kg during the recent MCO 3.0, and I try to make this menu ‘lighter’ and health-friendly — which also ties back to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s creation that emphasises on sports. For instance, we significantly reduce the amount of sugar in the dessert, and the menu uses more Greek yoghurt instead of butter and cream.

In terms of the colours of the dishes, you’ll see decadent neutral tones like cream, beige, and white on the plate. This reflects to the Cruise 2022 collection as well. Various shapes and textures are also incorporated on the plate to create the ‘silhouette’ like a fashion designer on his or her creations.

In your own words, what are the similar values both Maison Dior and you as a chef share when it comes to your craft as a creator, visionary and creative?

I’d say let your imagination roam free with your own personal interpretation. As a chef, I like to challenge myself by trying new techniques, as well as exploring new flavours and ingredients. I also enjoy employing pastry-making techniques into savoury creations. In the fashion house, a designer chooses different fabrics, prints and cuts. Similarly in my artistry, I think about the themes, and then choose what the ingredients we want to feature, how we want to cook it and so on. I believe there are similarities on the art of creation in both the fashion and food contexts.

Describe the experience of The Dior Café and why people must not miss this one-of-a-kind pop up.

It is definitely a ‘once in a blue moon’ experience.

The Dior Cruise 2022 collection showcase is open to public from 11.00AM to 9.00PM and the Dior Café runs from 11.00AM to 7.00PM by appointment only. You can make your reservations in advance by calling +6012-5778419.

(All photos are shot on the iPhone 13 Pro Max)  

Martin Teo
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.