Day of thorny love

  • Metro News
  • Tuesday, 18 Feb 2020

Vogiatzakis, Ng (second from left) and fellow SMG employees enjoying the thorny fruit.

IT WAS a thorny affair on Valentine’s Day at Star Media Group’s (SMG) headquarters in Petaling Jaya, where staff enjoyed a durian feast.

SMG chief executive officer Andreas Vogiatzakis hosted the durian buffet for employees.

The buffet was held outdoors under a tent but the afternoon heat did not deter staff from enjoying the king of fruits.

Many were thrilled to see the varieties of durian that arrived by lorry-loads and made a beeline for them, drawn to the fruit like moth to a flame.

The smell of the fruit wafted in the air, fragrant to lovers of the fruit but off-putting to its detractors.

It was a sight to behold as the fruits were expertly cracked open for SMG staff to take, some straight from the shell.

Multiple long rows of tables were set up at the Menara Star carpark area with bottles of drinking water for employees as they mingled and chatted with each other while enjoying the creamy golden pulp.

Vogiatzakis said the fruit feast was organised to celebrate and appreciate SMG employees.

“It is a long-awaited event that has been planned since last year. And Valentine’s Day is a perfect day to celebrate with durian.

“We are doing this for sheer fun and to bring all the employees together in a spirit of happiness,” he said.

He professed to be obsessed with durian since his first bite in 2006, after settling in Malaysia.

“I had no preconception or pre-knowledge of this particular fruit. I approached it from zero base.

“It was fantastic and I loved it. I love everything about it, be it the taste, texture or smell. I have developed my unique way of choosing a fruit to eat.

“No other fruit back home in Crete, Greece can compare with the durian. It is a very unique Malaysian fruit and it reminds me of why I fell in love with Malaysia,” said the durian connoisseur.

He added that he was thankful the durian buffet idea came to fruition.

And a veritable buffet it was, offering at least eight top-grade varieties of durian — Musang King, Golden Phoenix D198, Ganghai, D24, D201, Black Thorn, XO and D13, transported from Johor.

Ganghai is said to be popular because its fruit is fleshy with small pip but at the SMG buffet, Musang King proved to be the hot favourite.

If the fresh fruit was not enough for durian lovers, there was a variety of products infused with the durian flavour for sale such as nougat, cotton crisp, pancakes and even Japanese mochi.

In addition, there was a stall selling durian ice cream for cool relief.

Those who were not fans of durian were not left out either, as a multitude of cut fruits such as papaya, guava, watermelon, honeydew and mango were served in cups.

SMG chief content officer Esther Ng said she loved durian for its creaminess and rich flavour.

“I love this durian buffet event as it has brought the staff together and united all.

“It might be a small event but it goes a long way,” she said.

S. Mohan, from SMG’s transport unit, said he loved durian for its soft, appetising appeal.

Another employee, R. Ravi said he enjoyed certain varieties, especially the bitterness and thick flesh of Black Thorn.

“I go to the stall nearest my home whenever I get a craving for durian,” he added.

Content department employee, Diyana Pfordten said she would be out there looking for durian at the peak of the season.

“I eat durian four to five times a year,” she said.

Long-time lover of durian, Loh Chee Can said he could never resist the fruit’s aroma as well as its sweet and custard-like texture.

Sarasufia Hamdan pointed out that the best thing about the fruit was that the smell and the taste differ with each variety.

The two-hour fruit buffet was definitely an unforgettable experience for all durian fans at SMG on a day that celebrated love.

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