What a journey it has been.
After we were tipped off that Willin Low, the owner and chef of Wild Rocket, has been quietly serving an apprenticeship with Michael Lim of the famous Roxy Laksa at East Coast Lagoon Food Village, we asked him about it. Obviously, with our friendship at stake, he had no choice but to allow us to trail him for a day. In that time, we learnt just how determined he is to master the dish, and how difficult it is to do so – his training began in early 2016!
Speaking of the local dish, it turns out that hawker fare has a following among other fine-dining chefs here, too. They spoke of the comfort food they head for whenever they’re back in town after having been away for too long – dishes such as bak chor mee from a stall in Seng Poh Road, and rojak from Whampoa Food Centre’s Balestier Road Hoover Rojak. Find out if your list tallies with theirs.
And what happens when everyone is craving hawker fare at home but a lukewarm takeaway just won’t do? Book your favourite hawker-food chef for a private gig. Timbre+’s Damian D’Silva can whip up for you his trademark gai fan (Cantonese for “street rice”), Newton Food Centre’s Beng Heng will wrap all the popiah you can eat, and Springleaf Prata Place’s chef can toss a prata right in your kitchen, a la minute.
Another hawker-food chef worthy of mention is Immanuel Tee, our Chef to Watch for this issue. He used to cook perfectly plated fine-dining dishes at Jaan, but decided to strike out on his own with the wallet-friendly Garcons. With four outlets to his name in less than a year, he’s definitely a hawker-preneur to watch.
At this point, I’m proud to say that the Gourmet and Travel magazine has spotted none too few talents in the last six years I’ve been at the helm.
Being on the front line of this exciting industry has given me countless golden opportunities – to observe food trends in the making, chart the growth of upcoming F&B talents and hang out with the established ones, and to meet fellow foodies who are generous with their time and knowledge. Together, we have explored so many haunts and shared so many exquisite meals.
As I hand over the reins to Amy Van, an experienced editor who is as passionate about gourmet and travel as I am, I’m sad about disconnecting, but also confident that it can only get better with a fresh pair of hands on deck.
Special thanks go to my dear friends Andre Chiang and Julien Royer, who were guest editors of two of our best issues – the two men are Gourmet and Travel’s “Chef to Watch” alumni and their dining outfits were recently crowned two Michelin stars each in the inaugural Singapore edition. I can’t begin to describe how proud we are of them.
Andre Chiang’s How I See the World.
Julien Royer’s The Stories of Odette.
Special mention also has to go to the extraordinary art and editorial teams I’ve worked with, and, most of all, you, our reader. All of you inspire me every day to produce a better issue than the last.
You have my best wishes for more exciting food and travel journeys ahead.
Signed, Sylvester Ng