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New online retailer Handpicked rolls out Singapore-made artisanal noodles

Giving local noodles an artisanal touch, Handpicked is playing a delectable part in preserving the Singapore culinary heritage.

Tell us more about your father’s noodle factory business. What kinds of noodles was he producing? Were you involved in the business?
Hiap Giap Noodle started manufacturing noodles in the late 60s. Since then, the company has gained a solid reputation among its customers for high quality, delicious noodles that have stayed true to their time-honoured traditions. The company also invests and believes strongly in research and development. And this is the main driving force which allows us to constantly introduce new products to the market. Currently, Hiap Giap offers a product mix of 30 different types of noodles and noodle-related products. All produced with quality, premium ingredients.

Accredited with ISO22000 and Halal certifications, our products comply with international food safety standards. We service a wide spectrum of customers from different industries and countries; these include wholesalers, retailers, exporters, distributors, supermarket, food manufacturers and food service agents.

With a background in consumer and digital marketing, I assist Hiap Giap with their marketing efforts, such as product packaging, sales kits and marketing collaterals as well as website development.

Why have you decided to go into online retail rather than have a brick-and-mortar business?
I own a boutique digital marketing agency, assisting clients in the production of communication materials in the digital sphere – web development, videography, photography, social media marketing etc with a concentration on food/ culinary. Due to my upbringing and personal interests, home-cooking is something very close to my heart. In 2015, I was awarded the SG50 grant to develop a website called My Singapore Food, where I document heritage home-cooked recipes.

Handpicked (handpicked.mysingaporefood.com) is an extension of My Singapore Food. With Handpicked, I am offering consumers a digital pantry of Asian kitchen basics which have been carefully cherry-picked for their quality. I believe for a home cook, nothing beats the feeling of being able to serve up a delicious, healthy meal prepared with good quality ingredients. Afterall, cooking is loved made visible.

These two platforms allow me to create an online community; a continuous lifecycle which starts of by getting you interested in wanting to cook a certain dish, next we teach you to cook that dish, then we provide you with the choice ingredients better improve that dish, and because you enjoyed it so much you will want to learn yet another dish. And soon, you will be advocating home-cooking to you friends and loved ones.

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What are the artisanal qualities we can expect in Handpicked’s products?
At Handpicked, we are able to choose ingredients for their artisanal quality; selections which are not easily available in supermarkets. We are also able to work with different culinary experts and chefs to create special products to be made available. For example, sauces and spice blends. These items might be suited to be produced in small batches due to their complexities or simply the costs of producing them.

What are some of the local-made produce you use in your noodles?
We work very closely with a local flour merchant who provides us with special concocted flour blends which we use in the manufacturing of our noodles. Through them, we are able to control the texture, colour shade, gluten level etc. of our flour. We also use pasteurised whole eggs from a local farmer.

How are the noodles packaged and delivered?
The noodles are sealed with food safe packaging before being delivered. Most of the noodles can be kept in room temperature for at least 24 hours. We have also provided recommended cooking times/ methods on our packaging labels. This is to ensure our customers know how to best enjoy their noodles at home. As well as clear storage instructions.

Do you have any significant memories tied to a home-cooked noodle dish you can share with our readers?
In my family, a much-loved noodle dish we grew up with is wanton noodles. My mother would roast the char siew in the pressure cooker and she would make the wantons too (using our wanton wrappers, of course!). The key to this dish is the method of cooking the perfect noodles.

How is Handpicked tied to your quest to preserve family heirloom recipes?
I believe dishes leave a strong food memory in each of us. Other than preserving the recipe, we are also preserving our food memories. In My Singapore Food, we record down the story behind each dish. Likewise, for the ingredients in Handpicked, I want to document the story of the ingredients. Take our family noodles for example, very few Singaporeans would know that we have a local noodle manufacturer with such a long heritage.

Can share more about the line of sauces and fragrance oils you have lined up?
Most of the ingredients are skewed towards local and Asian food pantry. In the pipeline are spice blends (such as five spiced powder) that will be created using fresh spices and a recipe that has been with the contributing family for decades. Also, spice seeds that have been specially brought in for their high quality.

(Photo credit: Handpicked)