Gordon Ramsay’s Accepted Our SG Hawker Challenge!

Just for kicks, a couple of fellow bloggers, SingTel and I challenged Gordon Ramsay to a culinary showdown with local hawker heroes. He accepted our challenge yesterday!

World-renowned for his culinary skills and *ahem!* interesting choice of words, Gordon Ramsay currently holds 9 Michelin stars. His first solo restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, was awarded three Michelin stars in 2001. Michelin Stars are highly regarded as being awarded even One Star meant a stamp of approval by its team of discerning food reviewers. The highest accolade within the prestigious Michelin Star rating universe is the highly coveted Three Star rating. What began as an initiative by Michelin (French tyre-manufacturer) to encourage road trips and thereby increase demand for their tyres has blossomed into a highly respected culinary guide.

Guide to Michelin Stars:

  • one star: “A very good restaurant in its category” (“Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie”)
  • two stars: “Excellent cooking, worth a detour” (“Table excellente, mérite un détour”)
  • three stars: “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey” (“Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage”)
Closer look at the chicken rice - Xu Ji
Hainanese Chicken Rice

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’d know that I’ve been lamenting about the state of local hawker food these days. It seems like many hawkers no longer take pride in the food that they’re dishing out.

Geylang Lor 29 Fried Hokkien Mee at Telok Kurau
Fried Hokkien Mee

There aren’t many old school hawkers, who prepare their dishes with pride, left in Singapore. Many have expired or retired without anyone to pass on their craft to as not many young people in Singapore are keen to take over a hawker business. The ones who are keen to venture into the food business have often opted for classical French training.

Sergio Herman's Beetroot Macarons with Foie Gras (round 2)
3 Michelin Star Oud Sluis’ Chef Sergio Herman‘s Beetroot Macarons with Foie Gras Terrine
This picture was taken in 2008 when he was a Guest Chef at The Cliff in Singapore.

Our traditional local hawker food culture is gradually slipping away with the sands of time, what can we do to save it?

"Chilli Crab" Diverxo Style. Sherry Wine & Chipotle Chilli. Black Garlic, Toomburi (Japanese Mountain Caviar) & Quail Egg. #foodporn #wgs2013
2 Michelin Star DiverXO’s Chef David Muñoz‘s “Chilli Crab” Diverxo Style.
Sherry Wine & Chipotle Chilli. Black Garlic, Toomburi (Japanese Mountain Caviar) & Quail Egg.
This picture was taken when he was Guest Chef at Forest, RWS during WGS 2013

Now, this is a long shot but perhaps this challenge that we’ve issued to Gordon Ramsay might help to lift the profile of hawker food. This might help make it a more acceptable profession for a young person when he or she realises that the skill and passion involved in cooking hawker food is by no means less than the demands of modern cuisine. Local hawkers (at least the ones who take pride in their food and are committed to producing their best) work hard and possess good knowledge of their ingredients. They’ve also honed their skills through lessons from a predecessor and/or by tweaking their methods through trial and error. Unfortunately for me, I’ve never had the chance to try Chef Gordon Ramsay’s creations although I did try out some of his recipes for his Cookalong show on BBC Lifestyle.

Lamb Belly, Eggplant, Date & Smoked Feta
1 Michelin Star wd~50’s Chef Wylie Dufresne’s Lamb Belly, Eggplant, Date & Smoked Feta
This picture was taken in 2009 when he was a Guest Chef at Tippling Club in Singapore.

Whilst we marvel at the culinary mastery and passion of classically trained chefs as they produce awe-inducing creations in Michelin-starred restaurants’ kitchens, the food most Singaporeans crave when they’ve been away for a while is simple, hearty hawker fare – soul food.

Orh Luak from Geylang Lor 29 Hokkien Mee Stall in Katong
Orh Luak – Fried Oyster Omelette

What do you crave when you’ve been out of the country for a few weeks? I crave Fishball Noodles, Fried Hokkien Mee, Chye Tow Kway, Char Kway Teow, Prawn Noodles, Wanton Noodles, Chicken Rice and Orh Luak!

Tim Ho Wan's Signature Baked Bun with BBQ Pork  添好運酥皮焗叉燒包 #love #dimsum
1 Michelin Star Tim Ho Wan’s Chef Mak Kwai Pui’s Baked Bun with BBQ Pork

What was the spark that ignited this idea? Well, I suppose it was in no small part due to a precedence made by the Michelin Guide when they awarded (back then) hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Tim Ho Wan, 1 Michelin Star. If Tim Ho Wan can get a Michelin Star for Dim Sum, then our hawkers should be able to measure up. The next question is: “How will Chef Gordon Ramsay fare?

Outram Ya Hua's Bak Kut Teh
Outram Park Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh

Now that Chef Gordon Ramsay’s accepted our challenge, what’s next? We’re calling on you, fellow foodie, to vote for your favourite hawker out of the 12 shortlisted hawkers! The top 3 hawkers in Singapore will take on Chef Gordon Ramsay in a culinary contest. Your vote counts as the results will be determined purely by the opinions of food lovers in Singapore.

We want to hear from you! 

  • Vote for your favourite hawkers at this link from 8am on 25 June! http://www.hawkerheroes.com/
  • Closing date for votes:  2359 hours on 2 July 2013

What you stand to gain: 

  • Voters stand to win up to S$8,000 worth of HungryGoWhere Dining Cards that can be used at any restaurant that accepts MasterCard.

When will we know the results?

  • The Top 3 Hawkers and details of  the SingTel Hawker Heroes Cook-Off vs Gordon Ramsay will be revealed on 3 July.

SFF's Twitter Challenge to Gordon Ramsay

Come on Singaporeans, let’s rally around our hawkers! #SGHawkersRock

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Gordon Ramsay Visits 328 Katong Laksa #HawkerHeroes - superfinefeline - November 9, 2014

    […] Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would undoubtedly have heard about the buzz generated by SingTel’s Hawker Heroes challenge. As a Singaporean, I’m proud of our local hawker heritage, if only it wasn’t in danger of slipping away. The challenge is an opportunity  to raise the profile of Singapore’s hawker heritage. With the support of SingTel, I collaborated with food bloggers like Leslie Tay of ieatishootipost, Rayner Ng of HisFoodBlog, Daniel Ang of Daniel’s Food Diary, Phillip Lim of Keropokman, Catherine Ling of Camemberu and Melissa Koh of Melicacy to challenge Gordon Ramsay to a culinary competition which he accepted. […]

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