For 27 years now, the Singapore Food Festival (SFF), the Lion City’s much-awaited event that showcases local culinary and F&B talent, has been fueling love for new flavors while unleashing the foodie spirit in everyone. After all, Singapore’s multi-ethnic culture is well represented in its varied and colorful dishes—from Chicken Rice to Nasi Lemak; Roti Prata to Claypot Rice—each possessing their own distinct flavors and tastes.
With the theme “Rediscover the Foodie in You,” Singapore Tourism Board’s SFF 2020 brought together more than 25 F&B partners who converged to serve up gastronomic experiences that allowed audiences to enjoy the festival from the comforts of their home. Held across two weekends in August—August 21-23, 2020 and August 28-30, 2020—Singapore’s dining scene immediately came to life in the form of virtual food tours, live masterclasses, chef collaborations, food bundles and limited-edition food merchandise.
“As we took the Singapore Food Festival online and virtual for the first time, we wanted foodies the world over to rediscover Singaporean cuisine from wherever they may be,” says Ruby Liu, Singapore Tourism Board’s Philippines Area Director. “This year’s programming truly had something for everyone, blending the joy of feasting with interactive and engaging experiences, especially with the live masterclasses and virtual food tours.”
One of the not-to-be-missed events in the SFF 2020 was the Masterclass dubbed 2Fast, 2Delicious – Hokks & Clay by Slake (Singapore) x Cibo (Philippines), which had Chef Margarita Forés virtually collaborate with famed Singaporean Chef Ming Tan as they easily prepared Hokkien Mee, a noodle dish using prawn stock; and Chicken Claypot Rice, a well-loved rice casserole, live from their respective countries.
Forés, ambassador of Filipino cuisine and voted Asia’s Best Female Chef for 2016, is the owner of restaurants Cibo, Lusso, Grace Park, and signature caterer Cibo di Marghi. Chef Ming Tan, meanwhile, with his over 10 years in the hospitality industry, is presently the managing partner of the Slake Collective which includes homegrown brands like KIAP and Tokidon, as well as the consultant chef for JAM at Siri House, and is the part of Channel News Asia’s top-rating series “For Food’s Sake.”
By utilizing Slake’s Damn Easy Hokkien Mee and On-the-Spot Claypot Rice kits, both Chef Ming Tan and Chef Margarita Forés showed just how easy it is to prepare delicious signature Singapore dishes—all in under 15 minutes! Of course, each chef also shared a few of their own personal flavor secrets—showing everyone how anyone at home can level up their home dining experience.
For her Hokkien Mee interpretation, Chef Margarita ingeniously added pork belly, chicharon, crispy fish, river prawn and talangka or crab fat for that tangy Filipino touch. For her Claypot Rice, Filipino chorizo gave it a distinct and delectable taste.
For Chef Ming Tan’s take on Hokkien Mee meanwhile, he added blow-torched soy-marinated pork shabu with crispy fish and calamansi. For his Claypot Rice, goose liver sausage, lap cheong, and aged chai poh were wonderful flavor additions.
Noting the similarities in the cuisines of both countries, Chef Tan says that “Filipino cuisine, like Singaporean cuisine, enjoys strong flavours and we like our sour things too” and that the two cultures “have similar taste preferences, use similar ingredients like herbs and spices”.
For her part, Chef Forés observes that “the similarities are more evident with food with strong Malay influences from the South of the Philippines like curries and Rendangs.” Moreover, she says, “the Chinese slant in Singaporean dishes is something you can find in both countries.”
As these two acclaimed chefs demonstrated through their respective culinary creations, Singapore and Philippines have so much in common food-wise. These similarities help in bolstering our cultural ties, forging closer bonds fostered in the kitchen and over the dining table. With every ingredient, every flavor profile, and every dish produced, we get to discover more about each other—and what better way to do so than through the wonders of food!