BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Acknowledging the potential of culinary tourism, the Ministry of Primary Resources (MPRT) on Wednesday held a preview for Brunei Gastronomy Week to celebrate the country’s local cuisine and culinary diversity.

The two-week event, which kicks off on February 23, carries the theme kunyit or turmeric, with participating restaurants featuring dishes with the spice as a key ingredient.

“Gastronomy is a major driver for tourists when choosing a destination,” said MPRT minister YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Ali Apong.

He also noted that businesses in the tourism sector have to realise the importance of gastronomic tourism where visitors travel for the main purpose of seeking out unique foods. “Having an event such as the Brunei Gastronomy Week will help push the products further.”

The minister encouraged more hotels and restaurants to plate up Bruneian cuisine creatively so that it can be included as part of a fine dining experience.

“We want to heighten the level of skilled personnel within the F&B industry and support Bruneians who are driven and passionate… who want to further excel and gain international experience in order to achieve world class recognition,” he said.

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This year’s gastronomy week will see 10 hotels, restaurants and companies participating in the event including the national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines.

YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Ali (2nd R) looking at some of the dishes that will be served during Brunei Gastronomy Week. Photo: Rafidah Hamit/The Scoop

Some of the signature dishes that will be featured include Radisson Hotel’s de-constructed laksa, Anjung Saujana’s trio duck served with turmeric sauce and IBTE Longhouse Training Restaurant’s udang sambal kunyit.

The preview event also saw awards presented to last year’s winners in five categories: best taste; best presentation; most innovative; most creative; and best wholesomeness.

Rizqun International Hotel bagged two awards for “best taste” and “best wholesomeness”. According to the hotel’s junior chef, Nurul Amal Zunah, the win was very motivating.

“This is a good step not just for us but for the country as a whole. Food not only attracts tourists but also brings people together. If it can help elevate our tourism industry, it will definitely inspire us to do better.”

Chefs of Rizqun International Hotel and their creations. Photo: Rafidah Hamit/The Scoop

For this year’s event, the Rizqun International Hotel has prepared several dishes including otak-otak, grilled prawn, nasi lemak kunyit and scallop with turmeric sauce.

Meanwhile, winner of 2018’s “best presentation” award went to the Empire Hotel and Country Club, while the “most Innovative” award went to Brunei Hotel and winning the “most creative” Award was Radisson Hotel.

“I hope the wins will encourage our talented chefs to build a more innovative and vibrant food industry for Brunei Darussalam,” said YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Ali.