Monday, May 18, 2015

La Maison Cointreau Regional Finals 2015

La Maison Cointreau Regional Finals 
RECAP PART II (RECAP Part I: Duang Poshyanoda here)

"A drink inspired by love, independence and freedom," says Ami Shroff (Mixologist, India).

La Maison Cointreau held its first official regional finals this 2015 in Bangkok at Ku De Ta. Featuring 8 bartenders from Southeast Asia, Middle East, and India, the regional competition was judged by none other than Alfred Cointreau, Heritage Manager of Cointreau and 6th generation of the Cointreau family.

For the occasion, I was invited by Cointreau to live e-report the event, as well as interview the guests, judges, and competitors in the video below.(Archived real time updates are on Cointreau's Facebook Page)

The 8 Mixologist Finalists:
BALI, INDONESIA: Anzar Annas (Bar Leader, Potato Head Beach Club Bali)
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Laura Luca (Bartender, Boca)
INDIA: Ami Behram Shroff (Mixologist)
MALAYSIA: Jeffri Bin Sulaiman (The BIG Group)
SINGAPORE: Mike Cheong (Head Bartender, WOOBAR at W Singapore Sentosa Cove)
THAILAND: Attapon De-Silva (Sugar Ray)
PHIIPPINES: Christian Earl David S. Asiaddo/Rian (Long Bar, Raffles Hotel)
VIETNAM: Lam Duc Anh (SORAE Sake Whisky Lounge)

(left to right) Joseph Boroski, Duang Poshyanonda, Alfred Cointreau

The competition would result in two winners: a finalist chosen from two challenges. The official La Maison Cointreau Final was held at Ku De Ta Bangkok, where two challenges awaited each of the eight finalists, judged by Alfred Cointreau, Joseph Boroski, and Duang Poshyanonda.

On the night before the competition, finalists were presented with the first challenge, One Night in Bangkok.  "Imagine yourself on the fastest roller coaster ride with disjointed tracks and no safety belts on," describes Singapore's finalist, Mike Cheong, "One moment we were preparing for the grand finals and next we were thrown into a random street with 700baht and an hour to design a cocktail experience. It was absolutely thrilling and challenging! A ride I would kill to be on."

Azwar Annas (Bali) searching Khao San Road for props to use in his final presentation.

Khao San Sting by Laura Duca (UAE)
Ingredients: Cointreau, Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, Coconut Water, Coconut Cream, Sugar, Fresh Lemon Juice, Fresh Kaffir Lime Leaf Garnish: Fried Crickets, Fried Scorpion

Cocktails for this challenge ranged from using crickets and fried scorpions to candied mangoes and honey roasted sunflower seeds.

Orange Vest by Attapon De-Silva (Thailand)
 Ingredients: Cointreau, Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Fresh Pineapple Juice, Fresh Lime Juice, Ya Dong (Thai Herbal Rice Spirit) Garnish: Candied Mango, Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum And Fresh Honey Coated Sunflower Seeds

The second cocktail presentation,"L'Esprit Parisien" challenged finalists to create an original cocktail inspired by Paris. The mixologists were judged on presentation, technique, aroma and flavor, brand knowledge, use of Cointreau and the stories behind their cocktail creations. The mixologist with the best overall score on both challenges wins the title of La Maison Cointreau Champion, and an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Cointreau Distillery in Angers, France.

Laura Duca (Dubai, UAE) is the second female finalist here in Bangkok. Her drink is inspired by 1920s Paris. She also chose to use Remy Martin in her Cointreau cocktail, in salute to a time when the Cointreau family first pioneered drinks with cherry flavors. Relating to her first Bangkok experience on Khao San Road, she grins as she shares her cricket eating experience, "It's not that bad. It's like eating oily peanuts."

Rian Asiaddo (Philippines) created "Treaty of Paris", telling a bit of history between France and the Philippines as he concocted his final drink.

Mike Cheong from WOOBAR Singapore is presenting his Paris inspired drink, a cocktail honouring Paris, the jewel of France. He remarks on the elegance of Paris, much like the elegance of Cointreau - a liqueur with the highest amount of essential oils and lowest amount of sugars, making it suitable for elegant, balanced cocktails.

Be Unique by Lam Duc Anh (Vietnam)
Ingredients: Lavender Infused Cointreau, Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Single Malt Whisky, Lotus Green Tea, Fresh Lemon Juice, Homemade Honey Ginger Syrup, Egg White Garnish: Fresh Lotus Flower Petal, Fresh Orange Peel, Dried Lavender Sprig

Later in the evening, the second challenge awaited. Cointreau hosted a lavish Soirée de Gala. Here, the mixologists were faced with the challenge of serving hundreds of VIP guests and hope for their vote to win the Media Choice Award. Watch the video at the top to see how the event went.


L’Esprit Parisien Challenge Winner
Bijou Parisien by Mike Cheong (Singapore)
Ingredients: Cointreau, Coriander Infused The Botanist Gin, Egg White, Fresh Lime Juice, Homemade Champagne Reduction Strawberry Syrup Garnish: Dehydrated Strawberries, Homemade Edible White Chocolate and Strawberry Lipstick, Cointreau Perfume

Mike Cheong, Head Bartender from WOOBAR at W Singapore – Sentosa Cove, takes home the title of the very first La Maison Cointreau Regional Champion. Anwar Annas, Bar Leader from Potato Head Beach Club Bali, came in a close second, followed by Laura Duca from Boca, Dubai. Lam Duc Anh, Bar Supervisor of SORAE Whisky Lounge, won the Media Choice Award.

On the win, Cheong humbly reacts, "I felt honoured and emotional because I really did gave my 100%. All I wanted to do after was to bring the award home and show it to people who thought that I was never going to make it." 

The grand prize, an exclusive trip to the Cointreau Distillery in Angers, France was presented to him. Looking forward to his first trip to France, Cheong says, "I always wanted to visit France as it is the birth place of countless avantgarde ideas and products. To have the opportunity to visit the Cointreau distillery and feel the passion behind it is one of the main highlights. Passion is infectious. Being around passionate people pushes me to reach my potential." He continues, "I love to explore and immerse myself in different cultures when I'm in different cities too. That's where most of my inspirations came from."

Perhaps what I found most rewarding about the experience, besides the endless flow of cocktails made by amazing talent, was getting to know the stories behind each of the finalists and the camaraderie within the industry. The spirit of the competition was warm and good-natured, and the night continued with post-celebratory gastronomic and imbibing adventures around Bangkok for all involved in the competition... but that part, I shall not report on.

Friday, May 8, 2015

La Maison Cointreau with Duang Poshyanonda

La Maison Cointreau Regional Finals 
RECAP PART I with Duang Poshyanonda (photo album)


I was thrilled to host La Maison Cointreau's Regional Finals in Bangkok this year as Cointreau Singapore's e-reporter, for an exclusive championship event where 8 finalists from around the region came together to compete for the top title. Here is an interview with Duang Wannaporn Poshyanonda, the Editor-in-chief of Harper's BAZAAR Thailand and the Creative Director of Rouge Rouge. The fashionista/entrepreneur was one of the three main judges of La Maison Cointreau Regional Championship 2015.

Q+A with Duang Wannaporn Poshyanonda (Editor-in-Chief Harper's BAZAAR Thailand, Creative & Managing Director of Rouge Rouge)

Victoria: You’ve achieved a lot from working with a leading fashion magazine, Harper’s Bazaar Thailand, and you’re an entrepreneur, with your own line of handbags, RougeRouge. Between these two highly demanding roles, how do you juggle all these projects?
Duang: I am lucky to have my best friend as my business partner for RougeRouge, my handbag line, and she is also my brand manager to help me take care of the business. I also have my office in my house, so I have the time to take care of the leather while we connect through emails, social media, and LINE, which are great as they help me work much easier.

Victoria: What’s next? I mean you’ve already accomplished so many things that people can only begin to hope to achieve in a lifetime. What do you dream to do next?
Duang: I would like to work on more charity projects. I am starting to work with the Thai National Cancer Foundation, to help raise funds for cancer research. I am also hoping to be able to do more to help with raising funds for the poor, especially in the North or in the poorer provinces in Thailand.

Victoria: You also have a huge influence in the fashion world and you’re a role model for a lot of women in Thailand. How does it feel to have this much influence?
Duang: First of all, I want to thank you for thinking of me this way, but for me it feels natural, I don’t feel like it’s too much of work. I feel that fashion is fun, and I don’t find it a chore to be a fashionista. I feel that with style, there is no right or wrong. You have to be comfortable, you have to be confident with what you’re wearing.

Victoria: Who or what keeps you inspired?
Duang: I always find inspiration from art and music. My husband and his friends are musicians, and a lot of my friends are artists, and I’ve been doing a lot of projects with Thai artists in Bangkok to help promote their work through Harper’s BAZAAR. For style icons, I like the musician couple Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, and Francoise Hardy.

Victoria: For women who would like to go down this creative path, what advice would you give them?
Duang: I think inspiration is all around us. You should open your mind, read a lot of books, visit art exhibitions. When you see a picture and you feel like you have to study it a long time, longer than normal, that kind of art would be your style, your taste and what inspires you. For me, I get inspiration through music, conversation, friends and people that I meet.

Judges of the Finals: Joseph Boroski, Alfred Cointreau, Duang Poshyanonda

Victoria: Did any of the drinks from the competition today particularly stand out to you?
Duang: Today I really liked one cocktail, which was made with strawberries and champagne. He made the dried strawberries by himself, and he mixed it with Cointreau of course, and he made a lipstick from scratch. He’s from Singapore (Mike Cheong, Woo Bar), and the lipstick was like, strawberry milk chocolate. He was very creative; he asked me to apply the lipstick on my lips, and then taste it together with strawberry champagne mixed with Cointreau. It was an interesting presentation, and had a nice aroma.

Duang's favorite cocktail was by Mike Cheong (Woo Bar, Singapore)

Victoria: If you could describe your personality like a drink or a cocktail, what would it be?
Duang: My favourite cocktail is actually Aperol Spritz. I love something refreshing and I love sparkling champagne, and I love orange liqueur. Aperol Spritz comes from Italy, it’s refreshing and made with Aperol mixed with soda and topped with prosecco, and a little bit of orange.

At home I really liking mixing my own cocktails, and I always buy Cointreau, to tell you the truth, because it’s easy to mix with juices. I love to mix Cointreau with pomegranate juice and rose apple, and sometimes I like to put pomegranate seeds in it too.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The only dating app I use

Ellen Degeneres is one of my favorite comedians and talk show hosts, and this interview made me love Amy Schumer too.  I also use a certain dating app that she uses... She talks about it in the clip below starting at 3:37, though I recommend just watching the entire interview. Amy Schumer is my spirit animal.

"Hey scone, you look just like your picture."
Jokes aside - I don't use foodspotting to meet my perfect pastry match - I do know people (okay, one friend) who uses food-related networks such as Yelp to meet people for dates. Hilarious, but hey! What ever works for you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Face-off: The benefits of getting a facial

They say you are what you eat. The saying can be construed in a number of ways, including how it affects our physical appearance and well being. For example, your diet can affect the condition of your skin.

This photo was taken five years ago when I officially moved to Singapore. I've been fortunate to inherit my father's blemish free skin, and it isn't something I take for granted. It is never too early to start maintaining your skin (and overall health in general!), which includes:

1. Stay hydrated: It's been proven that keeping yourself well hydrated with lots of water consumption, keeps your skin supple and clearer. Water is my favorite beverage (Volvic Water, please!).
2. Watch what you eat: Eating things like packaged goods which are chock full of artificial preservatives or excessive amounts of salt (e.g. instant noodles, potato chips, many items from fast food chains) isn't much better than smoking when it comes to your health. In an ideal world, I would be able to resist such things, but I too also consume junk food once in a while. Mmmm Cheetos. Oooh Shin Ramyun.
3. Occasional maintenance by professionals.

Frankly, I've only had a facial a few times in my younger days, and still hardly.  I just didn't find it necessary, until...

Glomax Aesthetics contacted me recently, asking if I would like to try their facial services. They added, there are no obligations to post or mention if I don't want to.  Nice.  I feel uncomfortable accepting services and then possibly end up not being a huge fan. Because then I don't write about it, but then they might get a little annoyed, and and and ... this is why I don't really monetize this blog.  I just want to write about what I want to write about!

However, I was intrigued, so I got a quick skin assessment, got the facial, and... I saw results. I don't have photos, because I was too busy enjoying the pampering process. I also find taking selfies really tedious (never satisfactory enough). Sorry.

But here is the next-day photo, after a FULL 7am-6pm day of running around and hosting:
Hosting the World Street Food Congress, 
with one of the speakers, Chef Claus Meyer (Noma) 
[photo credit: Justin Leow]

I had to host Singapore's World Street Food Congress over the following two days. My skin was so fresh and clear, I didn't have to put on a drop of foundation/concealer/BB creams or what have you - seriously. Just a bit of powder so my face didn't get shiny and reflect the spotlight back onto the poor audience's eyes.  Inspecting my visage up close, what I appreciated most was how my pores were minimized into nothingness.

It was a good reminder to see the pros once in a while for maintenance; especially as we get older when you start to realize that one night's good rest doesn't solve all your problems like they used to anymore.

GLOMAX Aesthetics also included a promo code for Gastronommy readers to use, so you too can look glowy, fresh, and lovely.

Readers' Promotion
1+1 Bring a friend and enjoy FULL 60 mins at $80 each (UP$168) Luminous Detox Energie Care Treatment when you quote "VICTORIA" when making appointment. 
- Voted Best Pre Party Facial Award 2014 by The Women's Weekly 

GLOMAX Aesthetics - The Face Artistry 
12 Eu Tong Sen Street. 
The Central, Soho 2. #06-168 Singapore 059819 
T: (65) 6225-5193 SMS: (65) 9459-0795


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