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Arguably one of the biggest names in the food industry, Gordon Ramsay was in Singapore for SingTel’s HAWKER HEROES, and thanks to HungryGoWhere Malaysia (coming very soon, and I’m one of the contributors), Chris, WeiZhi, and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the event in Singapore.

Yes, we got to see Gordon Ramsay up close, and got a taste of his foods too.

crazy crowds at SingTel's HAWKER HEROES
crazy crowds at SingTel’s HAWKER HEROES

The challenge started with 10 short listed hawkers, and after public voting, three finalists were chosen to represent Singapore hawker foods and goes up against Ramsay. The poll gathered some 2.5 million votes online, so yah, it was a big deal.

The voted representatives were

  • Ryan Koh of 328 Katong Laksa (316,611 votes)
  • Ang Kiam Meng from Jumbo Seafood Restaurant (319,922 votes)
  • Foo Kui Lian from Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (318,151 votes)

So it was laksa, Singapore chili crab, and chicken rice. Ramsay then visited the hawkers and spent 3 days learning how to cook these dishes before the challenge on Sunday night, 7/7/2013.

Gordon Ramsay and the hawkers from 328 Katong laksa, Jumbo Seafood, and Tian Tian chicken rice
Gordon Ramsay and the hawkers from 328 Katong laksa,
Jumbo Seafood, and Tian Tian chicken rice

The crowd was huge at Newton Food Court, we heard that there were some people who lined up for a food ticket (limited to 1000 servings) a day prior. Thank goodness for people from SingTel we got media passes. 😀

The scene was pretty intense, loads and loads of people at the smallish venue. Chef Ramsay somehow managed to spent a few minutes meeting the people in the media area, but each time was perhaps a few minutes only. No such chance as taking a photo with, but we were super lucky and got something (more of that later)

the dishes, both from Ramsay and the hawkers
the dishes, both from Ramsay (top) and the hawkers (bottom)

The dishes were served in 6 plastic containers, understandable since they had to prepare 1000 portions. One side were the chili crab, laksa, and chicken rice from the hawkers, the other side were from Ramsay and his team after 3 days’ intense learning session.

I was pretty excited getting to taste something from him and see how it stack up against the best from Singapore.

Chris from PureGlutton, Wei Zhi of kampungboycitygal, and yours truly

Chris from PureGlutton, Wei Zhi of kampungboycitygal, and yours truly

My thought before the tasting was that the one ingredient that is most familiar for Gordon Ramsay is probably crabs, and hence Singapore Chili Crab would be his best bet, and in either case, the competition won’t end up in a clean sweep either way.

Here are my verdicts on the dishes after tasting them:

  • Chicken Rice – I really like how smooth Ramsay managed to make the chicken breast tastes, but the rice from Tian Tian was more moist and nicer, and as for chili sauce, Tian Tian’s version was clearly superior, Ramsay’s version tasted like it had too much vinegar. I chose Tian Tian over Ramsay but it was close.
  • Laksa – I tried Ramsay’s laksa and thought it was pretty good, and then I had a taste of 328 Katong’s and it turned out even better! Though both dishes had similarly well executed ingredients (prawns, fish paste etc), the soup from 328 was that much better. More sour and had a better kick than the more lemak version from Ramsay’s camp.
  • Chili Crab – Again, the crab itself were both excellent. As for the sauce, Jumbo’s version was very familiar – sweet & slightly spicy, and chunky with eggs. Ramsay’s version was a lot more spicy and had a more curry kinda taste to it, I actually liked it, but thought this could go either way.

these aren't the real chefs I think, with Hanis & Shing from HungryGoWhere Malaysia
these aren’t the real chefs I think, with Hanis & Shing from HungryGoWhere Malaysia

After tasting, we spent the next hour hanging out at the nearby community centre while waiting for the result. It does take quite a bit of time to feed 1000 people.

Then the results came in.

It was 2-1, Tian Tian & 328 Katong Laksa can now claim that they are better than Gordon Ramsay, while the chef managed to edge out Jumbo Seafood’s chili crab. I really can’t argue with the result and thought it was rather fair (from more than 5,000 votes).

Perhaps surprising to some, but Gordon Ramsay took it very well and applaud the food scene from the area. He also talked about how tough it was to learn the tricks of the trade in such a short time. Check out the shaky video I managed to take above.

I thought it was a pretty impressive feat.

Florence, Sally, Chris, WeiZhi, KY, Linda & kids
Florence, Sally, Chris, WeiZhi, KY, Linda & kids

Oh, by the way, though I didn’t have a photo with Gordon Ramsay, Chris, Wei Zhi, and I did manage to get an autograph from Gordon Ramsay, and it’s on my KYspeaks name card too! During the time he came over to the tent I think only four people managed to get his autograph, so we were extremely lucky.

my name card, signed by Gordon Ramsay!
my name card, signed by Gordon Ramsay!

Most awesome trip indeed, and stay tuned to Hungry Go Where Malaysia version!