Kekäle x Grön: a wine menu from an internationally awarded sommelier
Edmund Liew is a competition sommelier and the 2012 winner of The Best Sommelier in Southeast Asia title. Soon after his win, he started work at Osteria Mozza, one of the most famous restaurants in Singapore and frequented by local celebrities. There Liew met Lauri Vainio, ranked The Best Sommelier in Finland in 2006. Not long after that Liew got an offer from Finland, a country which he later fell for and where he now pursues his career.
From Malaysia to France, and onwards
Liew’s journey to becoming a sommelier is quite interesting.
”I was born and raised in Malaysia. I studied hospitality there and did a part of my studies at the Université de Toulouse in France. While in France, I wrote my thesis on wines. Fort his I got to know a sommelier working at a local fine-dining restaurant. He introduced me to the wine industry and inspired me to specialize in wines”, Liew recalls.
How Liew ended up working at Kekäle is a different story altogether.
”When I arrived in Finland, I worked in the south, mostly Helsinki. In 2018 when my contract ended, I decided to leave Helsinki behind and try enjoy my last season in Finland. I was interested in seeing aurora borealis and other wonders of the north, so I packed up and moved to Lapland.”
”I was only looking for an easy, simple job to cover my living costs. My friends in Helsinki had told me that it would be practically impossible for me to find a job in my field in the north. I left my CV with every job search service I could find, and I was very surprised, when I got a call about the sommelier job at Levi. I applied for it, got the job, and at the end of the winter season, I was offered the job of Beverage Director at Design Hotel Levi”, Liew explains.
On friendly terms with Grön’s Toni Kostian
While in Helsinki, Liew had gotten to know Restaurant Grön and its Executive Chef Toni Kostian.
”When a sommelier at Grön resigned in order to move to different country, I did a few trial shifts as his replacement. I ended up working elsewhere at the time, but Toni and I became good friends. I can’t wait to work with him again at the Kekäle x Grön event.”
”I’m really looking forward to April for the amazing pairings made from Toni’s food and my wines as well as the diverse flavour profiles in every wine category”, Liew sums up
A poetic marriage where Asia meets the Nordics
The menu for the Kekäle x Grön event has been built around the winter menu developed for Grön.
For the collaboration event, Liew will create a unique wine menu as well as a pairing menu with non-alcoholic drinks. The menu will mimic Grön’s existing non-alcoholic drink pairings, but Liew will add his own twist with Asian flavour profiles. He will be working alongside Toni’s Sous Gordon Yamilta.
”This will be two totally different cultural backgrounds coming together; an exploration into the harmony created when delicious food is paired with delicious drinks. It’s going to be a poetic marriage between Asia and the Nordics.”
”My focus on the wine selection will be on the Old-World wines, the European selection. I will try choosing wines from different countries and create a range that spans from sparkling to red and from dense to fortified”, Liew explains.
For the non-alcoholic drinks, the main ingredients will be fruits and vegetables.
”I will prepare the non-alcoholic drinks myself loosely based on the drinks already created at Grön. I will be using cucumber, tomato, and strawberries as well as many different techniques, like steaming and boiling, with Toni’s guidance”, Liew reveals.
Kekäle x Grön event was arranged on the 1st and 2nd of April 2022 at Levi.