(THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - To an international audience, durian has quite the stinky reputation. Banned in hotel rooms and many public spaces, durian was recently even the reason behind the evacuation of a university in Melbourne (the smell of the rotting fruit was so pungent that it was thought to be a gas leak).
But for those of us who live in the South-east Asian region, the king of fruits will always be king, its smell welcomed and embraced like a favourite child.
That is why the introduction of the Bangi Golf Resort Durian Festival & Awards 2018 is likely to cause a stir of excitement among durian lovers in Malaysia.
The event will be held on Aug 4 at the Bangi Golf Resort Clubhouse, organised by a committee led by F&B think-tank FoodCult and Tan Ban Keat.
He is instrumental in developing the new Bangi Farm project, where durians from Malaysia and around the world will be replanted, including rare species in danger of being wiped out.
At the festival, expect a smorgasbord of durian activities, including an all-day durian farmers’ market with over 30 stalls where durian farmers from all over the country will offer their crops for sale.
This gives durian aficionados priceless face time with skilled durian growers, instead of the third parties often tasked with selling the fruit.
If you like what you are eating, there is the opportunity to grow it at home, as durian saplings will be on sale for those looking to grow their own durian trees.
“This will be the single-largest showcase of rare durian saplings with 100 species that you may not have seen before, such as the red burgundy durian,” says Tan.
The festival will also host a durian knowledge forum, priced at RM150 (S$50) a person, for durian producers and others serious about starting their own durian farms, with speakers like Hew Chen Choi, the experienced founder of AKU Semaian and Dusun Hew and Abdul Rahman Johari, an expert on Thailand-style durian-growing techniques.
But perhaps the most exciting aspect of the festival is the World Durian Championship 2018: Malaysia Edition, which will see local durian farmers vying for the top spot in five categories – best Musang King, best D24, best Blackthorn, best Tekka and best open series durian.
Much like contestants at a talent show, fruits will be judged based on a range of factors, including taste, texture, colour and aroma.
“Response has been very encouraging and we have about 20 submissions over the five categories thus far. While we are excited about finding the best Mao Shan Wang, we are equally excited to discover new kampung durian stars as well,” says Jenny Tan, director at FoodCult.
The panel of judges for the competition includes a star-studded line-up of F&B bigwigs and influencers like Hew, founder of The World Street Food Congress, K.F. Seetoh, former senior editor of The Star and Flavours magazine Julie Wong, and author of two durian books Lindsay Gasik.
The judges’ results will be out by mid-afternoon. From 6pm to 8pm, there will be a durian fiesta, priced at RM250 per person where the top three durians from each category of the competition will be served in a veritable durian degustation of sorts, alongside grilled and barbecued durian fare from Singaporean chef Eric Low.
Since this means you’re officially eating the best durians in the country, it’s a not-to-be missed affair for die-hard durian superfans.