UPDATE: Gordon Ramsay 1, Hawker Heroes 2. Ramsay hails Singaporean street food as being better than Michelin star restaurants. Watch what he says at the end of the post.
Gordon Ramsay is causing all sorts of buzz in Singaporean hawker centres this weekend. Invited by Singtel, Ramsay will face off three top hawkers who were voted in by Singaporeans in a bid to find out if the local hawker fare is really as good as Singaporeans make it out to be once and for all.
Ramsay’s fame as a Michelin-starred chef, the head chef in Hell’s Kitchen, and the host of various TV shows showing cuisines from different countries makes him an ideal fit for this challenge.
In preparation for his challenge, Gordon Ramsay has been going to different hawker centres to learn dishes from the hawkers, having appeared at famous food hangouts such as 328 Katong Laksa and Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice in Maxwell Road Food Centre. He will also be making an appearance in Newton Food Centre on Sunday, 7 July.
Is Singaporean Hawker Food Dying Out?
The challenge comes at a time when many locals are worried that the hawker culture in Singapore is dying out.
There has been various high-profile retirements of favourite hawker haunts lately such as Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice in South Buona Vista. With ageing hawkers literally growing old and dying out, and the younger generation eschewing the tough hawker life for cushy PMEB jobs, it seems to be only a matter of time before the hawker centres that litter Singapore is no more.
The Singtel challenge then, comes at an appropriate time to pull at the heartstrings of locals. If it isn’t a statement that our hawker food still reigns supreme, it is at least a brilliant eulogy that hawker food died out having once pitted itself against one of the best chefs in the world.
And how does all this link back to the largest telco player in Singapore?
After its acquisition of HungryGoWhere.com last May, Singtel now lays claim to the largest food & lifestyle audience in Singapore.
According to SGEntrepreneurs’s interview with Singtel’s Digital Life Group CEO, Allen Lew last year, “a cornerstone of SingTel’s growth strategy is to build digital solutions that help consumers in their daily lives – as they live, work and play. Possessing the local knowledge and content is critical as it allows us to compete effectively in these areas”.
It is evident that Singtel is increasingly its efforts to move the brand away from Telco-only, to a wider set of associations such as food and lifestyle. The Ramsay challenge helps in channeling traffic back to HungryGoWhere.com where the voting is held, and also helps to boost Singtel’s profile of being truly “local” and close to the ground as a content provider, rather than simply being a medium like Starhub.
Here’s more Ramsay:
At the end of the day, Ramsay lost to the Hawker Heroes by quite a close margin. Not a totally unexpected result, since the odds are stacked against his favour. Ramsay had nothing but the highest praise for Singaporean hawker food: