Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

Gourmet Escape to Amazing with Lexus 2018

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My culinary journey has taken me to various places around the world to eat and this time – I was invited by Lexus to join an amazing culinary escape to Margaret River in Perth Australia. One might ask what does a luxury car brand have to do with culinary experiences, but Lexus is equally dedicated to crafting not only the best vehicles but also amazing experiences that are uniquely Lexus.


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In the words of Akio Toyoda,

“We do not usually ride people. We ride their senses.”

Lexus is also about leisure, opulence and a superb lifestyle.


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Lexus arranged for me to fly business class from Brunei to Perth – just on time for me to enjoy the sunrise


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It was a great pleasure to be picked up by a beautiful Lexus to Westin Hotel in Perth where I had a good breakfast in their executive lounge – a first taste omelet made from Margaret River eggs.


DSCF6325My room wasn’t ready so I got some time to check out some scenes around Perth city as Westin Hotel is very strategically located for me to enjoy the architecture.


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I enjoyed my morning walk after that good meal.


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Jacarendas reminded me of my Brisbane University days ~~ beautiful!


DSCF6389I also took the opportunity to sample some local delicacies ~~


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Gorgeous Honey Cake is pretty popular in Perth


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Of course, I’m not going to let this opportunity slip! I managed to grab a taste of Corica Apple Strudel. Ahhh ~~ delicious!


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It was great to catch up with a Brunei friend who I’ve kept in touch for years and finally meet in Perth for their delicacies.


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When my room was ready, I entered to find a mysterious looking box on my bed!


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A lovely gift from Lexus and a welcoming note. What a great surprise!


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Gourmet teas, toiletries, chocolate and bags which will prove very useful in my future travels. A very generous gift indeed!


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The room was lovely as well – comfortable beds! Ahhh ~~ I had a very good afternoon nap before the welcoming event for the media.


Media Night For Lexus and Gourmet Escape

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Members of the media were given a briefing by Lexus Executives David Nordstrom, Charles Taylor and Robert Weitercamp on what to expect from Lexus as well as Gourmet Escape at Margaret River.


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Beautiful Lexus ~~


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We were also given a sneak peek of Lexus Luxury Yachts! Now when can I get onto one of these!?


IMG_20181114_192034After a short break, we head over to the Gourmet Escape Media event and enjoyed great Margaret River wines and ‘heavy canapes’  (pretty delicious!) where we enjoyed a seminar of renowned culinary celebrities : Rick Stein, Ashley Palemer-Watts, Monica Galetti and Skye Gyngell on their experiences with Gourmet Escape.


Journey to Margaret River

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The next morning, while waiting for our transport to Margaret River at Westin Hotel. This beautiful Lexus LC500 attracted plenty of attention.


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My friend Cristina, a Lexus owner herself, – wanted a picture with the dashing vehicle.


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Hubba hubba ~ one can dream of owning a LC500 one day ~~


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I was driven in a Lexus NX SUV from Perth to Margaret River where we made a small pitstop for coffee. How thoughtful of Lexus to specially organize this lovely mobile to serve us some cakes and refreshments in between a 3 hour journey.


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Spot the Lexus Logo on my cuppa coffee ~~~ ahhhh ~


Lunch at Bunkers Beach House

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Our first meal at Margaret River is this amazing lunch with a view at Bunkers beach house! What an amazing view!


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Appetizers were an open style tart with asparagus and beetroot relish, shark bay crab with slow cooked omelet, Bussleton octopus and sea herbs.


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Mains are gorgeous fresh Barramundi with Exmouth king prawn, Arkady lamb backstrap.


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Desserts whipped Cheese cake with raspberries, Affogato and chocolate mousse!


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The affogato was a hit! Very enjoyable dessert.


Crafting a Feast in the Forest

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The first dinner at Margaret River @gourmetescape with Lexus, we enjoyed Chef Paul's cooking over open fire at the beautiful @leeuwinestate Safari Club hosted by the charming Anita Kapoor.


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We arrived just as the sun was setting and the view was superbly breathtaking!


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We enjoyed wines and gin cocktails from the beautiful Leeuwin Estate over campfire.


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Some of the lovely canapes over wine and campfire


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Paul Carmichael from Barbados graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and since then worked in kitchens such as Wd~50, Aquavit, Asiate, and the Tasting Room before serving as executive chef at Perla in Puerto Rico. He returned to New York in 2010 to join the Má Pêche team first as sous chef then as the executive chef. In 2015, Paul moved to Sydney to become the executive chef of Seiōbo @momofukuseiobo and was award the three hats, highest honour in Australia!


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A good mix of Lexus executives and owners from across South East Asia as well as members of the media in the refurbished barn called the Safari Club.


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Paul's cooking offers us a very heart warming feast that we enjoyed very much. His Caribbean style cuisine is interesting as it is quite familiar with Peranakan cuisine but cooked in a different way.


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His sweet potato dish reminds me of my mother's Orr Kueh which is taro cake with sambal. Perhaps with similar climates and ingredients, we are connected like that.


DSCF6650DSCF6647We also got to enjoy interviews with wine and gin experts from Leeuwin Estate – explaining why the quality of wines and gin from Margaret river to be top notch quality!


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Chef Paul’s grilled specialties such as the fish head really packs a real punch! Soul food from the heart!


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Down to earth Chocolate cake was yum!


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Smiling happy faces from a lovely dining experience and gorgeous wines!


The Villa

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We stayed in the lovely Villa within walking distance to Bunker Bay Beach.


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The best part about living in the Villa is your own private chef making you breakfast in the morning!


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Ahhh ~~ what a beautiful day ~~~


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Imagine such a beautiful beach within minutes from your villa ~~ ahhh ~~ what an experience!


Driving Lexus Experience

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After breakfast and some time at the beach – we were driven to Yallingup beach to have some hands on driving experience of Lexus. Having personally owned and driven Lexus ES300 before, I was familiar with the good handling and comfort but I have yet to try the post 2012 models.


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It was a indeed #experienceamazing when I drove the lovely @lexusbrunei NX300 along the coast past Yallingup beach on the way to our lunch at Wise Estate. It handles very well and makes me wanna drive myself the whole trip!


Bold Ingredients. Amazing Flavours

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We had a very interesting tour with chef Paul iskov celebrated for his skills for foraging sustainable ingredients inspired by indigenous tribes of Australia. Paul gave us an eye opening walk and tasting of ingredients foraged near Yallingup beach.


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Paul Iskov started Fervor in 2013 to showcase the interesting culinary experience using ingredients he foraged. Paul’s rich resume includes having worked at established restaurants like Vue De Monde, Amuse, D.O.M, COI, Pujol and Noma.


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Paul introduced us a number of ingredients such as wattle seeds,  blood root zest, Geraldton wax flowers; juicy saltbush fruit, finger limes with an interesting juicy texture to his cooking.


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His use of wild ingredients reminds me of the foraging master Soujiki Nakahigashi Kaiseki experience in Kyoto I've tasted – so I was very excited to get a taste of native Aboriginal ingredients.


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Though I feel Western Australian is pretty much uncharted territory when it comes to using these ingredients and I'm lucky to be able to go foraging with Paul as he introduces the leaves, bushes and nuts we can taste or use for cooking!


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So passionate and I hope more will follow the sustainable dining concept through foraging in Asia as well. This is a very interesting Kangaroo tartare ~~~ quite delicious.


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Wise Winery has great scenic views and fine art to match with the exciting flavours of Chef Paul Iskov’s dishes.

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Beautiful potatoes and bread enjoyed with freshly churned butter!


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A very refreshing appetizer consisting of bloodroot, macadamia and lemon myrtle.


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Main course of Kangaroo steak, Quandong and Saltbush ~~ mmm


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What wowed my taste buds was actually dessert! I dare say this is one of the most amazing chocolate dessert I've tasted. Perfectly balanced dessert and what’s most surprising is the use of such bold exotic foraged ingredients!


Reimagined Wine & Dine

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One of the most amazing experience I have in the trip was the ride in a luxurious Lexus convoy and driving towards Fraser Gallop Estate, set upon 165 acres along the Margaret River region. (Photo courtesy of Lexus Asia Pacific)


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Visitors were in awe of the amazing scenery and captivating mansion of Fraser Gallop Estate!


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I managed to snap a beautiful photo of this couple from Vietnam; guests invited by Lexus Vietnam.


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We enjoyed cocktails and wines before dinner. Basking in the beautiful sunset! I have to mention that Fraser Gallop estate has one of the best Chardonnays I have ever tasted! Oh how I wished I brought lots of bottles home!


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The owner of Fraser Gallop estate giving us the opening speech to tonight’s innovative dinner experience – just like how Lexus is the cutting edge in exciting technology to deliver an amazing experience!


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Shaun Quade has gained international reputation for his inventive (and at times obsessive) approach to cooking. With a career that’s seen him work in some of Australia’s best restaurants—including
Biota, Quay, Urbane and The Royal Mail—Shaun opened Lûmé, his first restaurant, in 2015. (Photo Courtesy of Lexus Asia Pacific)


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I have to say the asparagus tart with Geraldton wax and scampi roe was AMAZEBALLS!


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A dish so simply named as Spring Chicken was no simple dish at all!


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Which came first? The chicken or the egg?


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Sean’s signature Peal in the Ocean Floor sparked debate amongst the diners – wondering what sorta ingredients they were actually tasting! A mysterious yet delightful culinary experience! Sashimi sea bream slices, with a miso pine nut ice cream, bonito gel and coastal foraged ingredients like green sea fingers seaweed and saltbush.


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The Sourdough with Goat’s Milk’s Quark was the most simple and straight forward dish of the night.


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The Marron was perfectly cooked (sous vide I think) enjoyed with umeboshi and emu dashi; an interesting use of Japanese and Australian ingredients indeed. I could have 4-5 servings of this and still want more! OMG!


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The roasted lamb over eucalyptus enjoyed with spring garlic miso was tenderlicious – and I love how it’s balanced with the citrus of the pink finger limes!


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The grand finale dessert which showcases the Lexus signature grill sparked a lot of ooohs and ahhhs for Lexus owners! .A lovely dessert with many delicious components! It was such an amazing experience at Fraser Gallop to enjoy an exciting playful dinner with innovative Shaun.


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The night was rounded off with an interview with the chef himself!


Exhilarating Gourmet Village

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A visit to the Gourmet Village was a great time for us foodies to do some shopping and more eating!


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Lexus have their very own booth specially for their guests as well as media. We were served delicious canapes and beverages comfortably. A great base to escape from the bright sunny weather!


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The media also got exclusive up close and personal interviews with the chefs ~~


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Besides looking around – we have fun taking photos too!


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There’s live cooking shows and interviews with established chefs all around the gourmet village ~~


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Truffle oil anyone?


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Haha POSH!


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Gotta grab them cute wine coasters!


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Lots of gourmet food and drinks to try out seriously!


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Mmmmm hello there beautiful!


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We also got to tour the art gallery showcasing the art which are printed on the labels of these famous Leeuwin Estate wines!


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It was a fun experience tasting the various popular wines from Leeuwin Estate and learning about the story behind each wine.


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We also got to taste some great wines and cheeses with Singapore Airlines. It was interesting to know they have qualified air sommeliers on board that specializes in recommending wines at high altitudes!


Supper With Nigella

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Supper With Nigella specially organized by Lexus is an event I was looking forward to and it’s hosted at Xanadu Winery, one of the top 50 best restaurants in Western Australia!


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We get a good look at the lovely wine barrels at Xanadu Winery!


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While waiting for Nigella, we were treated to a lovely assortment of gourmet appetizers. A good mix of cheeses, hams, jams and breads.


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We also enjoyed crafted cocktails and wines ~~~


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Chilling with the Lexus guests and invited media (Photo Courtesy of Lexus Asia Pacific)


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Group picture with Nigella (Photo Courtesy of Lexus Asia Pacific)


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It was such a pleasure to meet Nigella in person and it’s amazing how gorgeous she looks despite her age and the amount of stress she goes through especially with the challenges she has faced.


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It was a very entertaining interview with Nigella! I could listen to her all day as she’s still as charismatic as ever and managed to engage the audiences very well with her heartfelt answers about her culinary and personal life.


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Managed to take a photo with the Domestic Goddess herself but shame about the lighting. If only I could take a better photo – but I’ll treasure this picture for life!


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I am indeed very happy to receive a personally signed cook book from Nigella and am very grateful to Lexus for giving me this amazing culinary experience that money couldn’t buy!


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I have to cut short my trip as I had to return to work so I missed out on the Brunch at Yarri with chef Aaron Carr who I believe is an amazing chef as well. Personally – Lexus has given me an experience that showcases the spirit of ‘Omonotenashi’, the Japanese unique approach to hospitality in putting the guests needs first and giving them the best they can! I had attended many sponsored culinary trips in my life but the extra attention to details in making my whole trip amazing was something I’ve only experienced with Lexus’s Escape to Amazing. I really look forward to further trips with Lexus – who set the bar for others to reach!

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