Whisky loves food in Canadian chef Nigel Richter's hands


  • Eating Out
  • Saturday, 26 Apr 2014

Canadian chef Nigel Richter prepares a light late afternoon meal of three dishes perfectly paired with the smoky flavours of whisky.

Upon entering the private restaurant in Mon’t Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, we spotted the Canadian chef and his assistants preparing the ingredients for the special meal, specially crafted to complement various Johnnie Walker whisky.

Chef Nigel Richter preparing the Tiger Prawn Tempura and Dungeness Crab Maki.
Chef Nigel Richter preparing the Tiger Prawn Tempura and Dungeness Crab Maki.

Richter started off rather serious, explaining what he would be using for his first dish, the Tiger Prawn Tempura and Dungeness Crab Maki.

Maki is a well-known sushi rice roll. My objective is to dispel whisky as merely being a ‘drinker’s drink’.

“With the first course, the goal was to pair the rich flavours from grain whisky with ponzu, which has in it sake, bonito, soy sauce, konbu, and yuzu citrus flavours,” he said, adding that all of the flavours had identical aromatic molecules found in the Johnnie Walker Black Label paired with the dish.

As we stood watching him prepare the next dish, the lanky Canadian cook took time to patiently explain every ingredient used.

Next, he prepared a warm Spiced Oxtail Cappuccino Soup to go with the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve.

The Spiced Oxtail Cappuccino soup was paired with Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve
The Spiced Oxtail Cappuccino soup was paired with Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve.

The Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, known for its smooth balance of luscious sweet fruits, was the reason why Richter chose to go with the charred flavours from the browned oxtail.

He added cinnamon, star anise, and all-spice powder in the broth to complement the woody and light sweet flavours found in the Gold Reserve. The fenugreek, he said, was used to flavour the milk foam, which coincidentally, had common flavour compounds found in the Gold Label Reserve.

To end the meal, Richter served us cheesecake. However, his version of the Smoked Cheesecake came with vanilla and hazelnut crust, pomegranate, chocolate milk crunch and local forest honey, topped with fresh berries.

The Smoked Cheese Cake was paired with Johnnie Walker's Double Black.
The Smoked Cheese Cake was paired with Johnnie Walker's Double Black.

Although the cake seemed too sweet at first bite, it made sense in combination with its Johnnie Walker Double Black pairing.

“The crumble accompanying the cheesecake was flavoured with malt and enriched with butter as well as white chocolate, while the egg was added with hickory-smoked water, a great match with the smoky-wood tones found in the whiskey,” he said.

Richter was one of Johnnie Walker’s Keep Walking ambassadors, a campaign introduced locally to promote the concept of personal progress among young talents in Malaysia.

The ambassadors were chosen based on their personal stories on how they got to where they are today.

He is joined by four other campaign ambassadors — Omakase + Appreciate owners Chong Yi Shawn and Karl Too, fashion designer Harvee Kok, and filmaker Quek Shio Chuan.


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