Category Archives: celebrity

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!

Three Singapore Hawkers to Face-Off with Michelin Star Chef Gordon Ramsay in Singtel’s Hawker Heroes

I love Gordon Ramsay.

Rachel and I have been hooked on Hell’s Kitchen, Masterchef and Kitchen Nightmares recently. When you have to deal with too many stupid people in life, watching Chef Ramsay explode on screen can be therapeutic.

“It’s RRRRRAAAAWWWWWWW!”

“You have to get your HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS!”

“PISS OFF!”

I wish I can scream at stupid people the way Chef Ramsay does it.

In case you have not heard, Chef Ramsay will be in Singapore this weekend  to take on three Singapore hawkers in a Hawker Heroes culinary challenge organised by SingTel:

After eight days of intensive voting and over 2.5 million votes, Singapore has chosen Mr Ang Kiam Meng from Jumbo Seafood (319,922 votes), Mdm Foo Kui Lian from Tian Tian Chicken Rice (318,151 votes), and Mr Ryan Koh from 328 Katong Laksa (316,611 votes), as the three most popular hawkers to challenge Gordon Ramsay. Watch their introductory videos:

Singaporeans will have the opportunity to sample the dishes by Chef Ramsay and the hawkers this Sunday, and decide who does it better through a live vote.

In the words of Gordon Ramsay himself, “Game on!”

Event details:
Date: 7 July 2013 (this Sunday)
Time: 6:30pm to 9pm
Venue: Newton Food Centre, 500 Clemenceau Avenue North, Singapore 229495

I will be there. I am not going to miss this for the world.

I want to know if Chef Ramsay can scold bad words in Hokkien and Singlish if he loses:

Join me! 🙂

Pink Dot 2013 – #iseefreedom

Marking its milestone fifth edition this year, Pink Dot 2013 aims to takes the message of inclusivity and diversity to Singaporeans far and wide, starting with this video:

For those who do not know about Pink Dot, it is an annual event campaigning for diversity and inclusiveness while fostering understanding for the basic human need to love and be loved, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Rachel and I attended the first Pink Dot event at Hong Lim Park back in 2009, but I had missed Pink Dot events in subsequent years due to work or family commitment.

This year, I will heading down to Hong Lim Park later to get some photos. The event starts from 5pm.

Global financial firm J.P. Morgan, local hotel PARKROYAL on Pickering, popular contact lens specialist CooperVision and audio branding agency The Gunnery, came on board as Corporate Contributors of Pink Dot 2013. They join a growing list that includes search engine giant Google and international banking group Barclays.

Michelle Chia, Ivan Heng and Mark Richmond, Pink Dot 2013 Ambassadors
Michelle Chia, Ivan Heng and Mark Richmond, Pink Dot 2013 Ambassadors

I find the show of support from these big brands a very brave step forward. When it comes to the issue of freedom to love, not many politicians or brands would choose to take a stand to avoid antagonising conservative bases.

CooperVision went one step further, running a #iseefreedom photo contest in conjunction with Pink Dot 2013. The first prize is a prize of your choice worth up to SGD$1000 + 3 months supply of CooperVision contact lens! 

You can find out more about the contest HERE. 

If you are also heading down to Pink Dot 2013 today, I will see you there. 🙂

OCBC Titanium Mastercard – The card that takes you places…. like the Jay Chou World Tour Singapore Concert

Thanks to the OCBC Titanium Mastercard, I got myself a superb ticket to the Jay Chou World Tour Singapore Concert:

The tagline for this credit card is “the card that takes you places”.

It is not a boastful claim.

Ask any mandopop fans and they will all attest to how difficult it is to buy tickets to Jay Chou’s concerts in Singapore. Often, even before the public sale of the tickets start, all the best seats are already snapped up by OCBC card holders who enjoy priority booking privileges.

What can this card do for you? In three simple words – “cheonging, air miles and concerts” privileges.

Here are some of the highlights of the card’s key benefits:

  • 2.5 air miles for every dollar spent overseas and at local nightspots like Mink, Royal Room, Butter Factory, Pump Room, and Timbre (Min spend of S$1.5k/mth)
  • Free travel insurance (up to S$300k coverage) when you use Titanium to purchase your travel package or airfare and charging at least once to the card while overseas
  • Priority entry and other promos (e.g. all night 1-for-1) at Butter Factory, Timbre, Royal Room, Mink, Pump Room, Beer Market

Interested to get your own OCBC Titanium Mastercard? Visit the official OCBC microsite to find out more. 🙂