Category Archives: celebrity

30 Minute Cookin’ with Celebrity Chef Eric Teo and Panasonic

A few weeks back, I was invited by Panasonic Singapore to do a sharing session on food photography and blogging at celebrity Chef Eric Teo’s Studio in Henderson.

Group photo
Group photo
A glimpse of Chef Eric Teo's work station
A glimpse of Chef Eric Teo’s work station
Media coverages on Chef Teo adorned the wall of his studio
Media coverages on Chef Teo adorned the wall of his studio
Some of Chef Teo's various award wins and trophies
Some of Chef Teo’s various award wins and trophies
Chef Teo's super bling bling robe
Chef Teo’s super bling bling robe

If you are interested to find out more on my presentation, the deck is available here (Food Photography and Blogging Basics from Alvin Lim):

Other than me sharing on photography tips using the awesome Panasonic Lumix GX7, the highlight of the day was the cooking demonstration by Chef Teo:

Chef Teo at work
Chef Teo at work
Chef Teo frying the mushrooms
Chef Teo frying the mushrooms
Chef Teo plating
Chef Teo plating
Chef Eric Teo's mixed mushroom fried with beer batter
Chef Eric Teo’s mixed mushroom fried with beer batter
Take pictures!
Take pictures!
Black tofu from black soya beans
Black tofu from black soya beans
Pouring the blended black tofu into little cups
Pouring the blended black tofu into little cups
Cooking prawns
Cooking prawns
Chef Teo working on scallops
Chef Teo working on scallops
It's just stir-fried seafood and red pepper, but Chef Teo cooked them so beautifully everyone present could not wait to taste them
It’s just stir-fried seafood and red pepper, but Chef Teo cooked them so beautifully everyone present could not wait to taste them
Adding the seafood into the tofu cups
Adding the seafood into the tofu cups
Chef Eric Teo's black tofu with seafood
Chef Eric Teo’s black tofu with seafood – my favourite dish for the day 
Moving on to the last dish - sambal fried rice
Moving on to the last dish – sambal fried rice
Chef Teo joked that experts only add the eggs right at the end
Chef Teo joked that experts only add the eggs right at the end
Close-up on the beautiful rice grains
Close-up on the beautiful rice grains
Plating the fried rice
Plating the fried rice
Chef Eric Teo's sambal fried rice
Chef Eric Teo’s sambal fried rice

You can view all the photos I took at the event with the Panasonic Lumix GX7 in this public facebook album.

The event was organised by local production company, Rolleyes. Teaming up with six renowned local chefs, Rolleyes seeks to make gourmet home cooking a reality for their viewers through their new 30 Minute Cookin’ series:

In each episode, viewers are shown how to achieve two to three-course meals within 30 minutes. Chef Teo’s demonstration is as part of this programme.

Visit 30 Minute Cookin' for more details
Visit 30 Minute Cookin’ for more details

You can watch Chef Teo’s cooking demonstrations as well as more from other  renowned chefs via the official website for 30 Minute Cookin’. 🙂

A Year in Singapore Search: Google’s Top Searches of 2013

Yesterday, Google announced its annual Year End Zeitgeist, a look at 2013 through the collective eyes of the world on the web, offering a unique perspective on the year’s major events and hottest trends based on Google searches conducted in Singapore.

So what got Singaporeans buzzing online in 2013?

The Southeast Asian haze grabbed attention and headlines this year, as Singaporeans searched for information about the phenomenon by looking up the latest PSI readings, facts about haze particles, and preventative masks. Singaporeans also kept an eye on other local news and events, including Singapore’s bird flu readiness, the investigation into American engineer Shane Todd’s alleged suicide, and news of local actor, Huang Wenyong’s death from lymphoma. Another celebrity death to make waves in Singapore was that of movie star Paul Walker, who died suddenly in a car crash in November.

Basketball is here to stay among Singaporean sport fans with the NBA’s Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, and the Dallas Mavericks emerging on Singapore’s most searched sports teams for the first time. The nation continued to follow international football favourites as well, with Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur all making the list, along with local team LionsXII.

Ever gadget- and bargain-savvy, Singaporeans searched for key dates for events like the 2013 IT Show, COMEX and the Great Singapore Sale. The nation also indulged its love for food—especially its sweet tooth—with searches for traditional treats like Kueh Bangkit and Snow Skin Mooncake, and contemporary favourites like Rainbow Cake, Leche Flan and Nutella Blossom, spiking on the trending recipes list.

Short trips and weekend getaways remained popular as Legoland Malaysia, the first Legoland theme park in Asia, came in as the top travel destination for Singaporeans for the second year in a row, along with Hong Kong, Penang, and Bangkok, cities famed for good food and shopping. On the whole, however, holidaymakers preferred to relax under the sun with well-known beach destinations such as Bali and Langkawi snagging 5 out of the top 10 travel hotspots.

Google spokesperson Sana Rahman said: “Google’s year-end Zeitgeist is a cultural barometer showing us what quickened our national heartbeat and drove our curiosity in 2013.”

As someone is online 24-7, I couldn’t agree more. Online trends often mirrors what goes on in the real world and sometimes give clues and insights on human behaviours.



1.       PSI Singapore

2.       Harlem shake

3.       Little India riot

4.      Anonymous

5.       N95 mask

6.       Malaysia election

7.       Deepavali 2013

8.       Gwiyomi

9.       Boston

10.   Tampines accident


1.       Paul Walker

2.       Cory Monteith

3.       Huang Wenyong

4.       Nelson Mandela

5.       Gordon Ramsay

6.       Margaret Thatcher

7.       Lea Michele

8.       Jennifer Lawrence

9.       Rowan Atkinson

10.   Tom Hiddleston


1.       Wrecking Ball

2.       Gentlemen

3.       Blurred Lines

4.       Counting Stars

5.       Clarity

6.       Royals

7.       Get Lucky

8.       Thrift Shop

9.       Road

10.   Heart Attack


1.       The Conjuring

2.       Pacific Rim

3.       Despicable Me 2

4.       World War Z

5.       Man of Steel

6.       Iron Man 3

7.       The Great Gatsby

8.       Gravity

9.       Oblivion

10.   Warm Bodies

What is…

1.       PM 2.5

2.       Gwiyomi

3.       Twerking

4.       Obamacare

5.       Lymphoma

6.       OOTD

7.       Hail

8.      Mastectomy

9.       Gluten

10.   H7N9

How to…

1.       Rap

2.       Harmonize

3.       Cycle

4.       Twerk

5.       Paint

6.       Beatbox

7.       Factorise

8.       Crochet

9.       Deadlift

10.   Blog


1.       iPhone 5s

2.       Samsung Galaxy S4

3.       Samsung Note 3

4.       iPhone 5c

5.       iPad Air

6.       Nexus 5

7.       iPad Mini 2

8.       HTC One

9.       Sony Xperia X

10.   Xbox One


1.       Shepherd’s Pie

2.       Kueh Bangkit

3.       Lasagne

4.       Snow Skin Mooncake

5.       Nutella Blossom

6.       Rainbow Cake

7.       Chicken Wings

8.       Beef Steak

9.       Leche Flan

10.   Cornflake Cookies

Most Searched

Travel Destinations

1.       Legoland Malaysia

2.       Bali

3.       Hong Kong

4.       Maldives

5.       Bangkok

6.       Taiwan

7.       Bintan

8.       Langkawi

9.       Krabi

10.   Penang

Local News

1.       Bird Flu

2.       Shane Todd

3.       Huang Wenyong

4.       Kovan

5.       Khaw Boon Wan

6.       Flood

7.       Singapore haze

8.       Singapore property

9.       Tey Tsun Hang

10.   Singapore riot

TV Shows

1.       Running Man

2.       Game of Thrones

3.       Breaking Bad

4.       Suits

5.       Naruto Shippuden

6.       The Big Bang Theory

7.       The Heirs

8.       The Voice of China

9.       The Walking Dead

10.   We Got Married

Korean Stars

1.       Kim Jong-kook

2.       Super Junior

3.       Girls’ Generation

4.       Hyuna

5.       Park Shin-hye

6.       Yoon Eun-hye

7.       Lee Min-jung

8.       Gary Kang

9.       Jo In-sung

10.   Jang Geun-suk


1.       Singapore F1

2.       IT Show

3.       Australian Open

4.       COMEX

5.       PC Show

6.       Standard Chartered Marathon

7.       Wimbledon

8.       Sundown Marathon

9.       NATAS Fair

10.   Great Singapore Sale

Sports Teams

1.       Arsenal

2.       Manchester United

3.       Liverpool

4.       Chelsea

5.       LionsXII

6.       Tottenham Hotspur

7.       Houston Rockets

8.       L. A. Lakers

9.       Miami Heat

10.   Dallas Mavericks


1.       Cristiano Ronaldo

2.       David Beckham

3.       Jeremy Lin

4.       Roger Federer

5.       Wayne Rooney

6.       Oscar Pistorius

7.       Rafael Nadal

8.       Jose Mourinho

9.       Thiago Alcantara

10.   Andy Murray

on Mobile

1.       PSI Singapore

2.       SGX

3.      Weather

4.       Arsenal

5.      Manchester United

6.      Liverpool

7.       iPhone 5s

8.      Restaurants

9.      Running Man

10.  Samsung Galaxy S4

To see more information about Google Zeitgeist across the globe, use interactive data visualizations and to watch Google’s annual video, visit

What is Google’s Year-End Zeitgeist?

Google reveals the Internet “Zeitgeist” (German for “the spirit of the times”) through an exploration of the over one trillion search queries received each year. In addition to the Year-end Zeitgeist, which highlights the top trends of 2013, Google also have several tools that give insight into global, regional, past and present search trends. Google Zeitgeist tools can never be used to identify individual users because Google relies on anonymized, aggregated counts of how often certain search queries occur over time. These tools are available year-round for us to play with, explore, and learn from at

StarHub TVB Awards 2013 – Full Winners List

Starhub TVB Awards 2013
Starhub TVB Awards 2013

Last Saturday, the StarHub TVB Awards 2013 capped off a night to remember as the industry’s biggest names gathered at the Marina Bay Sands Grand Theatre to honour the best in TVB programming. Broadcasted ‘live’ on E City (StarHub TV Channel 111/825) for the first time, the Awards saw a total of 31 trophies presented across 20 categories.

Thanks to Starhub, Rachel and I attended the ‘live’ recording of the show.

The biggest winner of the night was Triumph in the Skies II (衝上雲霄2) which completed a clean sweep of four wins with Myolie Wu (胡杏儿) and Julian Cheung (张智霖) winning the My Favourite TVB Male and Female TV Character awards for their roles in the blockbuster hit drama. Even more impressively, it also snagged both the My Favourite TVB Drama and the Singapore Media’s Favourite TVB Drama awards, proving its pedigree as a series with both mass appeal and critical acclaim.

Three cast members from Triumphs in the Skies II up on stage
Three cast members from Triumph in the Skies II up on stage

Rachel and I had not seen this TVB series before the awards, but we left intrigued enough to want to catch it now on Starhub!

The Awards also saw local viewers voicing their strong support for the local production, Lady First (女人我最大) – Singapore, which beat strong competition from established names to walk away with the My Favourite TVB Variety Show and My Favourite TVB Variety Show Host awards. Both awards were open to public voting and marked the first time a local programme won a StarHub TVB Award.

Pauline Lan on stage
Pauline Lan on stage
Pauline Lan getting affectionate on stage
Pauline Lan getting affectionate on stage

Lady First (女人我最大) is one of Rachel’s favourite TV program and Pauline Lan (蓝心湄), the anchor host of the show is one of her all-time favourite TV host. Rachel was thrilled to see Pauline Lan make her appearance on stage at the awards show.

A surprise appearance by Michael Miu (苗侨伟) stole the show as the veteran claimed the Classic TVB Character award, much to the delight of the packed theatre and the thousands of viewers watching at home. One of TVB’s ‘Five Tigers’ in the 1980s, Miu became a household name with his role as Yong Kang in the 1983 TVB series, The Legend of the Condor Heroes (射雕英雄传).

Miu joked about how the award he won is for old-timers who are about to retire and he thinks he is still in his prime now. He is 55 years old this year, but I would have to agree with him that he still have a long way to retirement. Just look at how suave he still look at this age:

Michael Miu, looking as good as ever
Michael Miu, looking as good as ever

The most coveted individual accolades – My Favourite TVB Actress and My Favourite TVB Actor, were won by Tavia Yeung (杨怡) and Bosco Wong (黄宗泽) respectively. Bosco then made it two out of two with the My Favourite TVB Male TV Character award before sealing his hat-trick of wins by sharing the My Favourite TVB On Screen Couple award with Niki Chow (周丽淇) for their irresistible onscreen chemistry in A Change of Heart (好心作怪).

Tavis Yeung collecting her trophy
Tavis Yeung collecting her trophy
Bosco Wong getting his award on stage from Pauline Lan
Bosco Wong getting his award on stage from Pauline Lan

Rounding off the night were Christine Kuo (苟芸慧) and Jason Chan (陈智燊)’s deserved wins in the Best TVB Female and Male Newcomer categories.

An elated Jason Chan thanking his fans on stage
An elated Jason Chan thanking his fans on stage

Hosted by King Kong Li (金剛) and Elaine Yiu (姚子羚), the Awards ceremony featured memorable performances from artistes such as Mag Lam (林欣彤) who enthralled the audience with her My Favourite TVB Theme Song award-winning song, Little Something from Season of Love (戀愛季節).

Hosts, King Kong Li and Elaine Yiu
Hosts, King Kong Li and Elaine Yiu
Mag Lam singing Little Something
Mag Lam singing Little Something

Linda Chung (钟嘉欣), who picked up a My Favourite TVB Female TV Character award and the Everlasting Glow Award, also took to the stage to perform Eternal Flame, while the cast of the local movie That Girl in Pinafore (我的朋友, 我的同学, 我爱过的一切) brought some local flavour to the event with a xinyao medley.

Linda Chung collecting an award on stage
Linda Chung collecting an award on stage
Linda Chung singing Eternal Flame
Linda Chung singing Eternal Flame
Another picture of Linda Chung singing
Another picture of Linda Chung singing
Xinyao performance by casts of The Girl in Pinafore
Xinyao performance by casts of The Girl in Pinafore

Not to be outdone, the finalists of TVB’s hit reality singing competition The Voice of the Stars (星夢傳奇) responded with a unique medley of their own, putting a fresh spin to a collection of classic theme songs.

Four singers from The Voices of the Stars
Four singers from The Voices of the Stars

The StarHub TVB Awards 2013 kicked off with the red carpet special where some local celebrities shared the stage with the pantheon of TVB A-listers in front of hundreds of screaming fans. Viewers also played their part in making it a memorable night by voting Linda Chung as the inaugural winner of the best dressed Red Carpet Star via the StarHub TV Buddy second screen app.

“We are pleased with yet another successful StarHub TVB Awards. The Awards represents the strong partnership between StarHub and TVB, one which has progressed beyond broadcasting to include localised content productions such as Lady First – Singapore. As an event, we have also raised the bar with the first-ever ‘live’ broadcast of the Awards ceremony. Together, we will continue to provide the best TVB experience for our customers. My congratulations to the winners,” said Mr Tan Tong Hai, Chief Executive Officer, StarHub.

“Since its inception, the StarHub TVB Awards has grown to become one of the marquee events of the year. It has been a joy working with StarHub for the past two decades and we are appreciative of StarHub’s continuous efforts in promoting TVB productions to Singapore viewers. Long may this continue,” said Mr Sherman Lee, Controller, International Business, TVBI.

All the TVB stars on stage
All the TVB stars on stage

The StarHub TVB Awards 2013 is presented by Jean Yip Group. Main Sponsors are SK Jewellery and OSIM. The event is co-sponsored by Hada Labo, Panasonic and Phyto. The Official Smartphone is HTC, the Official Car is Mercedes Benz and the Official Integrated Resort is Marina Bay Sands.

If you missed the show on Saturday, fret not – you can catch the repeat telecast on VV Drama (StarHub TV Channel 855) on 5 October 2013, 8pm.

For more pictures taken during the awards show, please visit the official Alvinology facebook page. 

For more information on the Awards, please visit the official Starhub website.

Full List of StarHub TVB Awards 2013 (星和无线电视大奖 2013) Winners:

1. My Favourite TVB Actress 我最爱TVB女艺人
Tavia Yeung杨怡

2. My Favourite TVB Actor 我最爱TVB男艺人
Bosco Wong黄宗泽

3. My Favourite TVB Female TV Character 我最爱TVB电视女角色
Niki Chow 周丽淇 《好心作怪》 – 阮小吉
Michelle Yim米雪 《大太监》 – 慈禧太后
Linda Chung钟嘉欣 《护花危情》 – 乔子琳
Kate Tsui徐子珊 《雷霆扫毒》 – 陈家碧
Myolie Wu胡杏儿 《冲上云霄 II》 – 夏晨
Tavia Yeung杨怡 《名媛望族 》 – 康子君

Niki Chow collecting her award
Niki Chow collecting her award
Michelle Yim on stage to receive her award - she still look so gorgeous at her age!
Michelle Yim on stage to receive her award – she still look so gorgeous at her age!
Myolie Wu collecting her award
Myolie Wu collecting her award

4. My Favourite TVB Male TV Character 我最爱TVB电视男角色
Ruco Chan陈展鹏 《情越海岸线》 – 程礼荣
Bosco Wong黄宗泽 《护花危情》 – 许玮琛
Raymond Lam林峯 《雷霆扫毒》 – 韦世乐
Julian Cheung张智霖 《冲上云霄 II》 – 顾夏阳
Kenneth Ma马国明 《回到三国》 – 司马信
Moses Chan陈豪 《金枝欲孽贰》 – 高流斐

5. My Favourite TVB Drama 我最爱TVB电视剧集
Triumph in the Skies II 《冲上云霄 II》

6. My Favourite TVB Mega Variety Special 我最爱TVB大型综艺节目
TVB Golden Viva Spectacular (LIVE) 《TVB新春黄金庆典》

7. My Favourite TVB Variety Show 我最爱TVB综艺节目
Lady First – Singapore 《女人我最大新加坡》

8. My Favourite TVB On-Screen Couple 我最爱TVB荧幕情侶
Bosco Wong & Niki Chow (A Change Of Heart) 黄宗泽 & 周丽淇 《好心作怪》

9. My Favourite TVB Theme Song 我最爱TVB电视主題曲
Little Something by Mag Lam 《恋爱季节》主題曲 Little Something – 林欣彤

Mag Lam on stage
Mag Lam on stage

10. My Favourite TVB Variety Show Host 我最爱TVB综艺节目主持人
Pauline Lan (Lady First – Singapore) 蓝心湄 《女人我最大新加坡》

11. Everlasting Glow Award全天候亮丽艺人奖
Linda Chung 钟嘉欣

The always gorgeous Linda Chung
The always gorgeous Linda Chung

12. Most Glamorous Female Artiste Award最璀璨夺目女艺人奖
Kate Tsui 徐子珊

Kate Tsui collecting her award
Kate Tsui collecting her award

13. Best TVB Female Newcomer最佳女新人奖
Christine Kuo 苟芸慧

14. Best TVB Male Newcomer最佳男新人奖
Jason Chan 陈智燊

15. Star of Perfect Poise Award魅力体态大奖
Raymond Lam 林峯

Raymond Lam on stage to collect his award
Raymond Lam on stage to collect his award

16. Most Improved TVB Actress飞跃进步女艺人
Mandy Wong黄智雯

Mandy Wong collecting her award
Mandy Wong collecting her award

17. Most Improved TVB Actor飞跃进步男艺人
Him Law罗仲谦

Him Law on stage for his award
Him Law on stage for his award

18. Singapore Media’s Favourite TV Drama本地传媒最爱TVB剧集
Triumph in the Skies II 《冲上云霄 II》

19. Classic TVB Character TVB 经典电视角色
Michael Miu 苗侨伟(杨康/司徒文武/楚留香/方自力)

20. Red Carpet Star靓爆星光大道奖
Linda Chung钟嘉欣

Bye bye and see you next year!
Bye bye and see you next year!

[Book Review] Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Book cover
Book cover

We all have fixated views about beefcakes and supermodels don’t we?

When you hear the name Arnold Schwarzenegger, what comes to mind?


Dumb beefcake?

Arnold is living testament to how wrong stereotypes can be. His autography, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, tells an extraordinary story on the extraordinary success of a very smart and driven person.

Born in a broken and poor Austria after WWII, Arnold documents his journey to the United States and how he worked towards his single-minded dream to first become the top bodybuilder in the world, followed by one of the top stars in Hollywood and eventually, the mayor of California.

Was the autobiography honest?

Yes and no. I find him more candid on the earlier part of his life. The accounts read more guarded and scripted in his description on how he became a Republican and how he came to run for political office.

On a personal level, the story reads like a long apology note to his wife, in an attempt to patch up their recent divorce due to his infidelity in fathering a son with their housekeeper.

Otherwise, I find this book pretty inspirational and enjoyable to read. This is better than a lot of self-help craps out there – at least we know Arnold walked the talk with spectacular results to show.

Arnold signing a copy of his book (picture via The Guardian)
Arnold signing a copy of his book (picture via The Guardian)

At the pinnacle of his bodybuilding career, Arnold had the perfect body both men and women would die for.

He had his fair share of beautiful women in his lifetime and eventually married Maria Shriver, a rare combination of beauty and intelligence. They had three lovely children together and a happy family.

Even before he started his Hollywood career, Arnold was already a self-made millionaire from shrewd property investments. He arrived in America dirt-poor, self-schooled himself through community colleges and worked his way up doing sales, construction and all kinds of odd jobs. This is a true story of the American Dream.

Arnold set a goal to become one of the top star in Hollywood and he achieved it by sitting out for only leading roles. Who can forget his role as the Terminator? He could have become a mediocre action star during his era who faded into obscurity now like Chuck Norris or Jean-Claude Van Damme, but he rise above all through shrewd career moves.

When he entered politics, there were lots of skeptics who were happy to poke fun of him as a caricature, but look what he has achieved. He leveraged on his perceived weakness as strength, gaining ground by playing up the underdog image.

Reading Arnold’s book impressed upon me that nothing is impossible with a can-do attitude and good work ethics.

I was not a fan of Arnold before reading this book, neither am I after reading it, but I am an admirer of what he have achieved and how he went about achieving all the accomplishment he set out for himself.

Instead of reading self-help books written by self-help gurus who only became rich and famous by writing those books, Arnold wrote his book after he became rich and famous.

The book is a good read. Do check it out.

Movie Review – Cold Eyes (감시자들)

Cold Eyes (감시자들) is a 2013 South Korean film starring Sol Kyung-gu, Jung Woo-sung, Han Hyo-joo and Lee Junho (2pm). It is a remake of 2007 Hong King film, Eye in the Sky (跟踪). The film is about detectives from the surveillance team of a special crime unit who work together to take down a bank robbing organization.

The film did well in South Korea, dominating the local box office since its release on July 3, 2013.

I watched it at the MasterCards Theatre at Marina Bay Sands last Friday at the international gala. Key members of the cast were present to promote the movie:

From left, director Cho Ui-seok, followed by casts, Lee Junho, Han Hyo-joo and Jung Woo-sung (picture via
From left, director Cho Ui-seok, followed by casts, Lee Junho, Han Hyo-joo and Jung Woo-sung, addressing the audience at Marina Bay Sands before the screening (picture via

My expectations were high as I have seen the original Eye in the Sky and enjoyed it very much. Cold Eyes has high standards to live up to and it did not disappoint.

The movie makes a boring job like surveillance appears really cool and exciting.

The story is relatively simple and can be summarised as below:

Ha Yoon-ju (played by Han Hyo-joo) becomes the newest member to join a unit within the Korean Police Forces Special Crime Department that specializes in surveillance activities on high profile criminals. She teams up with Hwang Won-jin (Sol Kyung-gu), the veteran leader of the unit, and tries to track down James (Jung Woo-sung) who is the cold-hearted leader of an armed criminal organization.

What is captivating to the audience is the twist and turn of the plot and the realistically portrayed, voyeuristic experience of surveillance work.

Han Jyo-joo in the movie
Han Jyo-joo in the movie

One almost feel like a stalker in some scenes where the surveillance team close in on their suspects.

The film is now showing in Singapore cinemas and is worth a watch for those who like action, suspense and drama. Go catch it. For k-pop fans, this is the first movie appearance for Lee Junhao from 2PM and I think his role was quite memorable, considering his limited screen time. For fans of the original, Hong Kong actor Simon Yam (任达华) appeared in a cameo role right at the end.

SingTel Hawker Heroes Challenge – Meeting Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay and Seetoh from Makansutra
Gordon Ramsay and Seetoh from Makansutra

Rachel and I are both fans of celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay and his fiery temper. We love to watch him scolding people after a hard day at work to unwind.

When we knew Singtel has gotten him to come to Singapore in a Hawker Heroes Challenge, both of us knew we have to attend the event.

Singaporeans love food - look at the crowd this event drew
Singaporeans love food – look at the crowd this event drew

In the contest held at Newton Food Centre, more than 1000 members of the public started queuing from 1am the night before to witness the exciting culinary showdown and sampled chicken rice, laksa and chilli crab prepared by Chef Ramsay and three popular Singapore hawkers (Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, 328 Katong Laksa and Jumbo Seafood Restaurant).

Guy touting hawker food tee-shirts
Guy touting hawker food tee-shirts

Lucky for us, we had a media pass from Singtel and Rachel was able to cut the queue.

Lots of people in the media area too
Lots of people in the media area too

Here are the dishes whipped up by Gordon Ramsay and the three hawkers:

Hawker heroes' dishes in red cover and Chef Ramsay's dishes in white
Hawker heroes’ dishes in red cover and Chef Ramsay’s dishes in white
Chef Ramsay's dishes are in the bottom row while the hawkers' dishes are on the top row
Chef Ramsay’s dishes are in the bottom row while the hawkers’ dishes are on the top row
Chef Ramsay's laksa
Chef Ramsay’s laksa
Hawker hero's laksa
Hawker hero’s laksa
Chef Ramsay's chicken rice
Chef Ramsay’s chicken rice
Chef Ramsay's chili crab
Chef Ramsay’s chili crab

Rachel’s verdict was similar to mine after we both blind tasted all the dishes – we voted for the hawkers for the chicken rice and laksa dishes, but chose Chef Ramsay’s dish for chili crab.

Chef Ramsay had a very difficult task. These three dishes are all familiar everyday dishes to many Singaporeans, and it is hard to compete against familiar tastes.

We have pre-conceived notions of what a dish like laksa is and ought to taste like. While Chef Ramsay can try to improve on it, he will still lose the taste test as Singaporeans may find his flavours unfamiliar.

The unfamiliar element was the strongest for me in Chef Ramsay’s laksa dish. While the broth was palatable and delicious, it does not taste distinctly like the laksa I am familiar with and appears more like a foreign dish masquerading as laksa by mimicking the flavours.

For the chili crab, on first bite, I wanted to pick the Jumbo’s version, finding comfort in the familiar taste. However, after a few more mouth of the gravy, Chef Ramsay’s version is more flavourful and lingered longer in taste.

This is the first time Rachel and I tried out something cooked by Chef Ramsay himself. It is a wonderful experience for foodies, and kudos to the team at Singtel for working on a national-scale campaign like this.

Diners were asked to vote for our preferred version of each dish. In the end, the Singapore hawker heroes narrowly edged-out Chef Ramsay in the live poll by 6 per cent of the total vote in the closely contested battle. In each dish category, Tian Tian Chicken Rice won by 6 per cent, 328 Katong Laksa by 19 per cent and Chef Ramsay’s version of Chilli Crab triumphed by 5 per cent.

Lots of people were at the event
Lots of people were at the event

Chef Ramsay said: “It’s been phenomenal to see how passionate the people of Singapore are about their hawker fare. The hawkers have impressed me with their ability to whip-up dishes with such amazing flavours. Now that I’ve experienced the best of Singapore cuisine, I can say without doubt the people of Singapore have much to be proud of – authentic, genuine, simple food, that is of amazing quality and full of flavour.”

Gordon Ramsay taking media interviews
Gordon Ramsay taking media interviews

Mdm Foo Kui Lian, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, said: “I enjoyed teaching Chef Ramsay the art of making chicken rice. Although his version was very unique, it was still very appetising. The SingTel Hawker Heroes challenge was a wonderful celebration of the good food we have here in Singapore.”

Mr Ang Kiam Meng, Jumbo Seafood Restaurant, said: “The contest was a great way to recognise the skills and talent of our local hawkers. Chilli crab is an iconic Singapore dish that takes many years to master and we are glad that it was featured in the contest. We are confident that the people of Singapore will continue to support our hawkers and keep our unique food culture alive.”

Mr Ryan Koh, 328 Katong Laksa, said: “We are grateful to our friends, family and supporters for voting for us, and to SingTel for giving us this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to challenge a world famous chef like Gordon Ramsay. It was a truly amazing experience!”

The three hawkers were chosen out of a group of 12 popular hawkers to take on Chef Ramsay through an online poll that sparked national interest. More than 2.5 million votes were cast over 8 days, with the three hawkers garnering approximately 320,000 votes each.

Gordon Ramsay posing for pictures
Gordon Ramsay posing for pictures

About SingTel Hawker Heroes

In June, seven of Singapore’s most well-regarded food bloggers with the support of SingTel had issued an invite to Chef Ramsay, to help determine if our hawker food has what it takes to match up to the prestigious standards of the world renowned Michelin guide.

This invite was issued amidst concerns about the future of Singapore’s hawker heritage, with fewer picking up the craft from the current generation of hawkers. It also aims to address the debate among foodies whether our hawkers are as talented as Michelin-starred chefs and if international recognition would boost the hawker trade.

Movie Review: RED 2

A movie featuring a stellar cast of veteran award-winning actors and actresses – how can a movie like this fail at the box office?

RED 2 is inspired by a comic book series of the same name, created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, and published by the DC Comics imprint Homage. It is the high-octane sequel to the worldwide sleeper hit, RED – Retired, Extremely Dangerous.

Directed by Dean Parisot, the movie features many top-notch stars like Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and Byung-Hun Lee (you will catch glimpses of his incredibly chiseled body on screen).

Btw, Lee Byung Hun has recently been appointed to be NESCAFE Singapore’s brand ambassador, in celebration of their 75 years anniversary. Specially for all his female fans, here is the TVC he did for NESCAFE:

I enjoyed the first RED movie tremendously and was really looking forward to the sequel. Have recently passed the 30-years age mark myself and graduating into fatherhood two years ago, it felt good to be rooting for action heroes who are of an older age. Young punks need to be taught a lesson not to mess with older people.

In RED 2, retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device. To succeed, they’ll need to survive an army of relentless assassins, ruthless terrorists and power-crazed government officials, all eager to get their hands on the next-generation weapon. The mission takes Frank and his motley crew to Paris, London and Moscow. Outgunned and outmanned, they have only their cunning wits, their old-school skills, and each other to rely on as they try to save the world—and stay alive in the process.

The movie is witty with many comedic moments and peppered with sufficient action scenes to keep adrenaline hunters satisfied.

I enjoyed RED 2 as much as I enjoyed the first RED movie. Most of the other omy Blog Club bloggers who caught the movie during the preview screening loved it too.  

It is now showing in Singapore cinemas. Go catch it!