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Decoding Enzymes: Novel Culinary Techniques

The KITA Conversations 2023 congress, held on October 30th in Kuala Lumpur, was a gathering of innovative visions and a meeting point for enthusiasts and professionals in gastronomy. This event brought together a diversity of professionals, from chefs and food opinion leaders to historians and anthropologists, all under the roof of the Petaling Jaya Performing Arts Centre (PJPAC), to discuss gastronomy and the well-meaning concepts of the food and beverage industry.

The session was highlighted for its thematic breadth, covering everything from sustainability and industry challenges to food waste management and the authenticity of chefs in the face of celebrity chef culture. Among the notable voices was Khir Johari, who addressed the shared gastronomic heritage of Malaysia and Singapore, and Nithiya Laila, who suggested looking into the past to feed the future, questioning whether Asia’s indigenous plants could lead the way to more sustainable diets.

John Regefalk, from the Basque Culinary Center, with his presentation “Decoding Enzymes: Novel Culinary Techniques”, showcased the use of enzymes in cooking, highlighting how they can transform textures and unlock flavors by accelerating culinary processes under optimal temperature and pH conditions. His approach suggests that enzymes, traditionally used unconsciously in cooking, could become a revolutionary technique by understanding the science behind them. Regefalk, aiming for innovation and the application of science in gastronomy, proposes a future where understanding and conscious use of enzymes open new horizons for culinary professionals and the food industry at large. Through his talk, Regefalk deployed a series of examples where enzymes act as catalysts for revolutionary innovations. From “turbogarum” that transforms fish trimmings into an umami-rich product to the transformation of bread waste into a glucose-rich syrup, the applications presented promise an era of creativity and sustainability for contemporary restaurants.

Other speakers like Chele Gonzalez redefined the concept of luxury through local ingredients, and Eric Olmedo emphasized the role of chefs in shaping alternative food networks. Attendees at the congress also heard from panelists such as Darren Chin, Jenifer Kuah, and Raymond Tham, who discussed trends and keys to the success of a restaurant in Malaysia.

Concluding with a networking hour and drinks, KITA Conversations was not just a space for discussion, but also a launchpad for innovative techniques and approaches that are shaping the future of food.