Food to imitate art at gallery showcase

Hoan Kee Huang

KUCHING: A law student turned chef is bringing his Sydney culinary skills back to Kuching for six dinners inside the Hoan Gallery in La Promenade Mall here.

Sarawakian chef Achang Libat will be collaborating with the gallery’s Hoan Kee Huang for the special ‘Dine With Art’ omakase event from Aug 19.

Achang said when they met each other, he realised they have the same artistic process.

Chef Achang

“For us, everything starts from sketches and Hoan tells me some (of his) pieces come to mind fully formed, others only reveal themselves as he sketches and paints details.

“This is similar to how I will come up with new dishes inside the gallery next to the art pieces that inspired them, it really heightens the experience,” Achang said.

Gallery curator Hoan is expecting a one‐of‐a‐kind experience for foodies and art lovers.

“I wanted great food with great creativity and absolute uniqueness. I want to showcase art and I am excited for the public to try ‘Dine With Art’.

“I’m also a little nervous, and on top of everything, we both wanted it to be ‘affordable’. We want to reach the mass market and do more in the future,” Hoan said.

Chef Achang’s sketches of the six-course meal, which are inspired directly by art pieces in Hoan Gallery.

The dinner is priced at RM228 per person with the beverage menu including wine, tuak and non‐alcoholic options like Bunga Kantan infused water, flavoursome Sarawak Liberica coffee and Dong Ding Oolong Tea.

The dishes in ‘Dine With Art’ are inspired by Hoan Gallery’s opening exhibit, Rebirth and Achang’s team will create some dishes right in front of the diners.

In March, Achang staged the highly successful ‘Dine On Clay’ dinners with Gardencraft.co, which was his first larger-scale event this year, serving up food on the works of local clay‐makers and potters.

Pieces from Rebirth, Hoan Gallery, which opened in Dec 2021, have been sold to art collectors from as far as the UK and Singapore.

It was a sold-out event with a spin‐off “Staff Meal Edition” lunch series launched to high demand and Achang said that fine-dining in Kuching is going through a revolution.

“Kuching has just gotten UNESCO’s Creative City of Gastronomy award and as a Kayan‐Lun Bawang chef, it makes me so proud that more people are appreciating local.

“The perception of fine‐dining has changed from imported expensive ingredients to how amazing is midin, how great is umai, why not feature bario rice, let’s appreciate tuak; and what about local artists, like rediscovering our great artists such as Hoan Kee Huang, the late Micheal Chong, while highlighting the works of Stephanie Eng, Lam Siong Onn? Looking ahead, we’re all just so excited,” Achang added.

One of the main courses takes inspiration from the late Micheal Chong’s eastern and western paintings.
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