MGM x RR1HK Culinary Masters Macau 2024 Celebrated the Bold Global Cuisines Inspired by the Silk Routes
While embarking on a culinary odyssey honouring the rich legacy of the Silk Road, history was made over the course of a long weekend with six of the finest chefs in the world.
BY Robb Report Hong Kong  |  July 2, 2024
7 Minute Read

This story is part of a series of features covering MGM x RR1HK Culinary Masters Macau 2024, hosted at MGM COTAI in Macau on 28–30 June 2024. 

Over the course of three days and two nights, MGM x RR1HK Culinary Masters Macau 2024 was the place to be for a thrilling programme of gastronomic, artistic, and cultural activities designed to entice, entertain, and enlighten local and international VIP guests, but the work for the dining extravaganza began months ago to ensure that this RR1 Signature Event was one for the ages. At the final curtain call for this year’s Culinary Masters in Macau, nearly 150 people took to the stage to take their bow—a defining moment in the history of gastronomic events held in the region.

A historic event to mark another, the theme “Savor 700 Years of Silk Road Flavors: A Gastronomic Odyssey” was on the mind of all participants in front and behind the scenes. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Macau Special Administrative Region and the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the occasion coincided with the 700 years since the passing of the renowned Silk Road explorer Marco Polo, and marking the rich legacy of the intrepid explorer in a timely and apt way was always on the cards. Macau provided the perfect backdrop with its East-meets-West history, and to show that on a plate courtesy of six incredible chefs was ingenious. 

MGM x RR1HK Culinary Masters Macau 2024 featured a festival of tastes and international cuisines, arts, and cultural activities. Looking back on the eventful long weekend, so many memories stand out, so here’s a quick recap of the highlights.  

Four female Culinary Masters address students of Macau.

It all began early on a Friday morning when Thai chef Chudaree “Tam” Debhakam demonstrated the preparation of her signature dish, Dong Dang, an elevated version of Northeastern Thai noodles with a modern touch, to culinary students from Macau. Chef Sara Aqel followed suit as she flew down from Jordan and, without a hint of jet lag, jumped into the kitchen and shared her insights on the versatile uses of olive oil through her own cooking show as students watched and listened with rapt attention.

Chudaree “Tam” Debhakam demonstrates her take on Thai noodles.

After the cooking demonstration, girl power stormed the stage to talk at length about “Exploring the Culinary Journeys of Trailblazing Women: From the Silk Roads to Global Gastronomy.” Out of our six Culinary Masters, four award-winning local and international female chefs—including two-Michelin-star-studded Garima Arora of Indian restaurant Gaa; Chudaree “Tam” Debhakam of Baan Tepa in Bangkok, the first female Thai chef to win two Michelin stars; Sara Aqel, who heads up Dara Dining in Jordan; and Florita Morais Alves, the renowned ambassador of Macanese cuisine and proprietor of La Famiglia—led a free-wheeling chat about the role women play in contemporary kitchens.

Our first evening was set aside for chefs and guests to unwind with cocktails and a buffet dinner as all Culinary Masters, VIP attendees, and RR1 HK members gathered at The Mansion for a welcome dinner. A prelude to what lay ahead, it was a casual affair where many got to meet the Culinary Masters for the very first time, and all six chefs got to meet in person after weeks of emails and conference calls in preparation for the 12-hands dinner. 

Come Saturday, as the sun rose summer morning, chef Yang Dengquan of Five Foot Road eschewed the spices of Sichuan for a mapo tofu lesson, just the light touch needed for a balmy morning in Macau. His cooking lesson was followed by a Chinese tea tasting session led by MGM COTAI tea experts, an intricate act of balance, artistry, and aromas. 

Chef Garima Arora demonstrating how to make gobi paratha.

Speaking of aromas, the cauliflower flatbread—gobi paratha—made by chef Garima Arora, of Gaa in Bangkok, was the food equivalent of a warm embrace. Arora and her crew made the preparation of the gobi paratha look so easy when it was anything but, and the popular chef was a crowd favourite as she kept it light and cheery—just like her food. 

Chef Marco Galtarossa at his pasta-making workshop.

At Grill 58, chef Marco Galtarossa instructed his students on making pasta from scratch. Flour power with a dash of butter and splash of olive oil, the genius was in its simplicity. Paired with Champagne, the ice-cold flutes of golden bubbles were just the ticket. 

Macau tour for international guests.

For those new to the region, the international guests who flew in from the world over, including Australia, the US, the UK, the Middle East, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Italy, and more, a Macau tour was organised to take visitors around the city’s scenic spots and historical buildings. Meanwhile, others opted for an immersive art tour within the property as MGM COTAI proved to be a grand haven of great art and sculptures. 

Coffee tasting at Aji at MGM COTAI.

Late afternoon, a warm gathering of coffee lovers collected at Aji, where coffee academics from Illy espoused the notions of refined coffee and presented a vast range of aroma profiles, and the goodie bags filled with the fine Italian java elicited many smiles. Other event guests spent their time at Vino Condiviso, the Italian wine expo at MGM COTAI, which proved to be a hit as many were sniffing, swirling, and sampling the finest wines.

Art tour at MGM COTAI.

Always a popular tour, the behind-the-scenes look into the vast industrial kitchens of MGM COTAI wowed many who had never before seen operations of such scale and size, while others took an afternoon siesta in anticipation of the main event: the 12-hands gala dinner.

Presented under “Savor 700 Years of Silk Road Flavors: A Gastronomic Odyssey,” the 12-hands gala dinner by our Culinary Masters was the hottest ticket in town. Six chefs, each more acclaimed and famed than the other, joined hands to create a cohesive multi-course menu to fulfil the central theme of MGM x RR1HK Culinary Masters Macau 2024.

But a successful meal of this scale goes beyond just six Culinary Masters—it takes a village of hard-working team members and a robust kitchen brigade and waitstaff to pull off a grand finale dinner, serving hundreds of people in choreographed perfection. As the chefs took over one course each, it fell on sommelier Yulia Ezhikova to pair them with wine, which she did with aplomb, presenting labels and beverages with connections to Silk Road history. 

Nearly 150 team members behind Culinary Masters 2024.

It was clear that there was definitely some magical alchemy happening backstage as the dishes segued from one into the other with ease and elegance without a single jarring note, even though the dishes, ingredients, and cooking styles were as different and diverse as the chefs themselves were. With six collective Michelin stars twinkling backstage, it was dazzling to watch the final curtain call as each chef took to the dais to rapturous applause. 

Our after-party saw many an apron untangle as the guests hit the bar and dancefloor in equal measure and pleasure, and conversations that began the night before continued the morning after when many met for a late breakfast. Just before the guests jetted off, a farewell brunch was hosted at Vista, and the chefs from within the hotel had their moment to shine as they served the best dishes from each of the marquee restaurants under the resort’s umbrella. 

In the end, it wasn’t goodbyes or fare thee wells that were exchanged between new friends and old, but promises to return to Macau and “see you at the next Culinary Masters!” Until the next RR1 Signature Event—stay up-to-date on the latest happenings here.