Man at His Best

Esquire Talks

Inaugural edition of a new series of events by Esquire Malaysia rekindles real-life conversations.

BY editors | Nov 13, 2017 | Culture

Esquire Malaysia kicked off its Esquire Talks series at the Hugo Boss boutique in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur recently. Forty-five guests were invited to meet ground-breaking chef James Won, consummate restaurateur Roberto Guiati and award-winning filmmaker Saw Teong Hin.

In keeping with the evening's theme, 'own your journey,' Won, Guiati and Saw each shared insights into how they found their vocation. A common thread that emerged was the unorthodox paths the three men have taken, and their commitment to staying the course by fully participating in what life throws their way.

Taking their chances, they have encountered moments of serendipity that have nudged them towards the people they didn't know they should meet, and the things they didn't know they were looking for.

Won, whose Enfin restaurant houses Asia's first Krug Chef's Table, recently launched its complete farm-to-table degustation menu. This pioneering initiative is created entirely from the produce of Enfin's own organic farm in Cameron Highlands. Won seeks to grow the highest-quality local ingredients for use in his robust yet delicate French-style haute cuisine, continually innovating to make what he needs if it doesn't yet exist.

Similarly, by riffing on the idea of the local, Guiati has brought to Kuala Lumpur the authenticity of his provenance, the Renaissance city of Ferrara -- from where he sources not just his ingredients and equipment, but his chef too. Guiati's Zenzero is the Italian go-to place for KL's discreet cognoscenti. Its success has prompted the dynamic restaurateur to introduce Luce and Cichetta, which bring yet another slice of life from elsewhere to the Malaysian capital.

Apart from directing the opening and closing ceremonies of the KL SEA Games this year, Saw's most recent work is You Mean the World to Me; like the initiatives of Won and Guiati, it draws on the local, being filmed in Penang where he was born -- and in the distinctive Hokkien dialect as spoken on the historically cosmopolitan island. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the film has resonated across audiences.

Easily finding common ground, Won, Guiati and Saw engaged in a lively and free-flowing conversation moderated by Esquire Malaysia editor-in-chief, Jason Tan. Among the subjects touched on were competitiveness, provenance, authenticity, meeting the market, and the cost of staying true to one's vision.

In his introduction, Tan said Esquire Talks aims to bring men at their best off the printed page and smartphone screens, and rekindle real-life conversations in a gracious setting.

At the end of the evening which both the guests and speakers remarked had ended too soon, there was warm applause for the speakers who remained immaculately turned out in their Hugo Boss suits. Energy levels had been kept at an optimum by the addictive canapés served up by ACME Bar and Coffee.

See the full gallery of photos from the event here