BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Acknowledging the potential of culinary tourism, the Ministry of Primary Resources launched the Brunei Gastronomy Week 2019 on Wednesday to celebrate local cuisine and raise Brunei’s culinary diversity.

The two-week event, which will officially start on February 23, carries the theme “kunyit” or tumeric where participants are required to feature the spice in their entries.

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

One of the dishes featured by Rizqun International Hotel, Otak Otak Turmeric. Photo: Rafidah Hamit/The Scoop

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 a particular dish. “Having an event such as the Brunei Gastronomy Week will help push the products further.”

The minister encouraged more hotels and restaurants to serve Bruneian cuisine creatively and with finesse 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.

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“It is important to provide a unique Bruneian gastronomical experience for those in the country and to those who are visiting,” said YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Ali.

Various Dusun ethnic paraphernalia on display. Photo: Hazimul Wa’ie/The Scoop

This year’s event will see 10 hotels and restaurant companies participating including national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines.

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 launching ceremony also saw awards presented to last year’s winners in five categories: The Best Taste, The Best Presentation, The Most Innovative, The Most Creative and The Best Wholesomeness.

Rizqun International Hotel bagged two awards last year for Best Taste and Best Wholesomeness (dishes with nutritional value, method of cooking and ingredients used). According to its 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 but also brings people together. If it can help elevate our tourism industry, it will definitely inspire us to do better.”

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.

One of the dishes featured by Rizqun International Hotel, Nasi Lemak Kunyit. Photo: Rafidah Hamit/The Scoop

Meanwhile, winner of 2018’s Best Presentation award went to the Empire Hotel and Country Club, and the Most Innovative award went to Brunei Hotel and winning the Most Creative Award was Radisson Hotel.

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

YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Ali (C) with the winners of last year’s Gastronomy Week. Photo: Rafidah Hamit/The Scoop