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Gordon Ramsey takes on Singapore's hawker legends

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  1. A cheap attention grab, but not entirely surprising (I have shared my disdain for local food bloggers elsewhere and this is another instance of their general lack of general awareness).

    If they want to bring more tourists to Singapore to enjoy hawker food, which is the only goal they can plausibly achieve in the short-term, then good luck to them.

    But if they want to achieve something greater, the revival of the image of the hawker as an artisan equivalent to a three-Michelin-starred chef, and encourage more capable youngsters to go into the trade, sorry it just ain't going to happen.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Julian Teoh

      I totally agree with you, Julian. I fail to see how the involvement of a British TV celebrity/Michelin-star chef has got to do with gauging the standard of Singapore street food, other than for a publicity stunt. And Singtel? The largest Govt-linked company in town trying to fulfil their CSR quota for this year.

      1. re: M_Gomez

        It's a funny thing, isn't it? Everyone gets something out of this except for the people who love and care about food:

        1. The bloggers pat themselves on the back - "Wah, I brought Gordon Ramsay to Singapore! Look at how cool and influential I am!"

        2. Gordon's a good sport, and always trying to show how much he's a man of the people, so his PR stock continues to go up.

        3. You said it about Singtel!

      2. re: Julian Teoh

        It IS a cheap attention grab, so let's not pay any more attention to it. Seriously.

        1. re: Peech

          It would surprise you, Peech, how much attention and publicity (even in non-food forums, circles, etc) it is getting here in Singapore.

          It's not a matter of giving it oxygen, but the discussion centres around the fact that they are trying to take on a spiral driven essentially by larger socio-economic factors beyond anyone's control. The decline in hawker standards here is a headline-grabber, it is watercooler talk, and events like this become part of the larger discourse.

        2. re: Julian Teoh

          This was pretty much mainly a publicity event though it does bring up the issue of the future of hawker food into the limelight. There are also some good new-gen hawkers. Perhaps not enough.

          Have you tried the Ru Ji Kitchen Fishball Noodles?

        3. I can't watch it in the USA. If it is anything like his Great Escape series it should be interesting.

          4 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            I liked Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape episodes in India:

            It's always funny (and futile) when a small, modern city-state like Singapore tries to dredge up whatever little "exoticism" is left of our culture - in this case, street food cooking - and, put it on TV, throwing in a temperamental Gordon Ramsay whose F-words will obviously be censored out by our prissy censorship board. Oh, and they better warn Mr Ramsay to leave his chewing gum at home when he comes.

            1. re: klyeoh

              "How old are you? 85? F*ck me, you must have bollocks (Gordon cups his hands) the size of f*cking ostrich eggs, you know that? Jesus f*cking Christ!" Translator laughs like it's the funniest thing he's heard (it probably is), while hawker legend smiles politely, not sure what Gordon is going on about.

              Cut to camera monologue, where Gordon is taking his shirt off and changing into his chef's jacket. "He's been doing this, just this one dish, for 75 f*cking years. And he's good, he's bloody good, no f*cking doubt about that. I just hope I'm still cooking like that when I'm f*cking 85. F*ck me". Shakes his head in disbelief.

              Repeat 6 times and presto, episode 1!

              1. re: Julian Teoh

                Perfect! Now repeat 13 times and you have a series.

              2. re: klyeoh

                I was told that Gordon Ramsay was surprisingly friendly.

            2. I can't watch it in Canada, either!! Pity!!

              1. Pls let me clarify on the content of this video. Its merely a video of GR accepting a throwdown issued by Singtel challenging him to take on Singapore's hawker legends.

                The actual event has yet to happen. As it were, the organisers have yet to decide which hawker to pit against the English chef.

                1. So, Gordon Ramsay's in town now. The challenge - to cook 1,000 portions of Singapore chilli crab, Hainanese chicken rice and Katong laksa, takes place between 6-9pm at Newton Food Centre this Sunday, July 7.

                  Going head-to-head against Messr Ramsay are 3 of Singapore's top hawkers:
                  1) For Singapore chilli crab: Ang Kiam Meng from Jumbo Seafood;
                  2) For Hainanese chicken rice: Mdm Foo Kui Lian from Tian Tian Chicken Rice, and
                  3) For Katong Laksa: Ryan Koh from 328 Katong Laksa in East Coast Road.

                  For more news:

                  I *won't* be there, I'm flying off to the *real* hawker paradise in this part of the world this weekend - Penang :-D

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: klyeoh

                    I know where I'd rather be.

                    Hint: not Newton :D

                    1. re: Julian Teoh

                      I'm going to make a concerted effort to avoid Newton Circus! I can imagine the traffic jams there!

                  2. LOL! Predictably - as there are 1,000 portions of the food to be distributed free to spectators on a first-come-first-served basis, who'll then vote for the winner - some "kiasu" locals started queuing up at 1am in the morning for an event which was to start at 6pm: a full 17-hour wait!! Well, this *is* Singapore for you :-D


                    1. Well, most Brits take Gordon Ramsay for granted back home, but in Singapore ...

                      "Some fans were in tears when Mr. Ramsay wasn’t able to sign their cookbooks or posters. One shouted out, “Thanks for touching me!” when the chef was surrounded by a crowd."


                      Full article here:

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: klyeoh

                        Just like we take our hawkers for granted here.

                        Anyhow, for what its worth, here's my take on this entire event. Call it a cheap attention grab, or whatever, I feel the event has given our hawker heritage a huge international boost.This should not be about whether Singapore hawker food is inferior to Penang's or Taiwan's. If Penang or HCMC wants a similiar spotlight on their street food culture, so be it. Pls invite Mario Batali, or Jason Atherton or Bobby Flay et al for a throwdown. Lets face it, Singtel wants this as a public display of corporate social responsibility, the tourism board wants this as an advertisement, Singaporeans want a fun day out, and the man himself, well, it doesnt hurt him if he opens a GR restaurant here in time. Everybody wins.

                        Sure, I agree some versions of Penang's street food are tastier, and I'd be the first to admit even my beloved HIllstreet Char Kway Teow cant match those from Penang. But these are what we have now. I mean seriously, the Hong Kongers are proud of their Cha Chaanteng culture, but instant noodles and spam, really??

                        I dont think anyone involved in this event really wanted to proclaim Singapore hawker food as being the best in the world. It is however, part of our culture. We have very little power to dictate its evolution. I know its sad, but its happening everywhere. Events like this, however, does not do our hawker culture any harm. Cynics will be cynical, haters will always hate. Lets all take it for what its worth.

                        NB. I disagree with chilli crab though. I mean its $45/kg! How is that hawker food?

                        1. re: Kiedis

                          I just got back from London yesterday and wasn't even aware of all the fuss around Gordon Ramsay.

                          So he cooks chilli crab better than Jumbo's chef after only 2 days? That goes to show how much the standards of our local cooking has fallen.

                          But, Aiyoh, kiedis, if you think our idea of a fun day out is to queue up for 10 hours to taste hawker food cooked by a famous ang moh chef, I think we Singaporean need to re-look our priorities in life. Like the one where they queue overnight for those Hello Kitty dolls at McDonalds and then abuse the poor store manager.

                          I'm the generation born before Singapore got independence. I think our hawker food nowadays are so lousy, I don't know to laugh or cry on Singtel's current attempt. CSR? Hell no!

                        2. re: klyeoh

                          @ klyeoh & FourseasonS

                          No wonder Gordon Ramsay lost in the Hainanese Chicken Rice Battle. He went to 'Tian Tian' for training!! ( You two should know what I mean?! Ha!! )