YTL classic hotel, The Majestic Malacca, announced the launch of a new food and beverage concept today. Once serving a mix of western and local Peranakan favourites, the hotel’s primary restaurant will now serve authentic Malacca-Portuguese cuisine, also known colloquially as ‘Kristang’ cuisine – a unique yet elusive gourmet tradition, important to Malaccan history. Celebrity Chef, Melba Nunis takes the helm at this new dining establishment known as Melba at The Mansion.
“A lot of what we strive for here at YTL Hotels is underpinned by our need to preserve our cultural heritage. The story of the Kristang people makes up a fascinating element of Malacca’s history, yet not many people know of it. Through Melba at The Mansion, we hope to play our part in conserving this legacy by providing a platform to showcase Kristang culture and all its unique idiosyncrasies,” said Dato’ Mark Yeoh, YTL Hotels Executive Director. “We could not think of a more suitable person who shares in our same dedication than Chef Melba,” he said.
“I am honoured to be able to work together with YTL Hotels and to introduce my heritage and story,” said Chef Melba. Born and raised in Garden City, Malacca, Chef Melba developed a love for cooking and baking, having learnt cooking from her mother and grandmother. Exposed to Kristang cuisine from an early age, Chef Melba found that she was happiest in the kitchen, preparing meals for her loved ones. Chef Melba adds, “You have to put your heart and soul into preparing every dish, this is the secret ingredient that will be felt by everyone you cook for. And this makes all the difference.”
Her passion eventually led to the opening of her restaurant in 2011, Simply Mel’s, which garnered rave reviews and accolades. In 2014, Chef Melba published ‘A Kristang Family Cookbook’ which was later honoured with the ‘Best in the World’ Award in the ‘Best Woman Chef’ category at the 2016 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Proud of her Kristang lineage, Chef Melba is an active champion of preserving her cultural legacy, having hosted Kristang language workshops and cooking classes at her restaurant.
Rooted in a 500-year old legacy, the Kristang people of Malacca are a true reflection of a fusion of cultures. A creole ethnic group of people, they are descendant of early Dutch and Portuguese settlers who inhabited Malacca in the 16th and 17th centuries. Their cuisine, characterised by fiery sambals, delicate vegetable dishes and fragrant coconut curries, is an ode to Malacca’s cosmopolitan past. Influenced by a harmonious mix of culinary styles including Portuguese-Dutch, British and Peranakan cooking, Kristang cuisine also takes inspiration from local Malay, Indian and Chinese spices and flavours.
Melba at The Mansion will feature a specially crafted menu stemming from Chef Melba’s collection of treasured family recipes. “The dishes served here at Melba at The Mansion are very close to my heart as they come from the personal collection of my mother, Mercy. I remember how she used to scribble these recipes on little pieces of paper which she kept in an old shoebox,” she said. Chef Melba has kept these time-honoured recipes to this day.
Of the over 200 recipes collected over time, Chef Melba’s signature dish includes her Ayam Kari Keluak. “Keluak curry is probably one of the most well-known dishes from Malacca. I can’t remember when I first started eating buah keluak, but I know it was from a very young age. It is one of those things you either love or hate, and for me, its deep and earthy flavour is something I could eat every day,” she said. Her other signature dishes available at Melba at The Mansion include Inchimintu Karangezu (baked stuffed crab), Kaldu Laksa Malaka (Malacca laksa) and Kek Sugee (sugee cake). Dining at the restaurant is nothing short of a journey through Kristang’s past, with Chef Melba’s own memorabilia adorning the walls. It is also an exploration in unique dishes and flavours which Chef Melba takes pride in personally explaining to guests.
Melba at The Mansion is open daily for lunch between 12.00pm to 3.00pm and for dinner between 7.00pm to 10.30pm. Additionally, to ring in the year of the Rooster, Melba at The Mansion will offer a special Chinese New Year dinner menu from 27 January to 11 February, 2017.
For more information on YTL properties visit www.ytlhotels.com.