Dear Gordon Ramsay

You’ve just completed the battle against the hawker heroes of Singapore, and you won one out of three segments. I am mighty proud of you.

You see, Singaporeans are madly in love and passionate about our food culture. The fact that we could easily nominate and vote for our favourite hawker already proves that about us. We know where the good food is, and we go to them.

We may have different favourites though. Some like stall A for its rice as every grain is individual and flavourful, some like stall B for its moistness. In any case, we’ve at least tried enough to have a long discussion when asked for recommendations on where to go and what to eat.

In addition to that pressure, over the years, our taste buds have not evolved much. We stick with traditions, and we have food shows on the hunt for old hawkers that have since moved locations. We liked them as they were, and I don’t forsee any changes to our comfort food in the near future. That is why, till today, although we’ve gotten richer and can afford fancy gastronomic prices, our lovely comfort food is still typically presented in a plate with just the right amount of lovely slices of chicken, a couple of strips of cucumber, maybe a little parsley leaves – nothing more. Any extras could be well deemed as “made for tourists”.

I greatly admire that you’ve taken up this challenge, and have been such a gentleman about it. In fact, I’ve admired you for some time. You’re easily inspiring.

When I spent some time in France on an exchange semester, it all started off with instant noodles, canned ravioli and pre-made taboulé. It was the first time I was living on my own, away from hawkers, away from my parents. I thought cooking was a chore.

And then I started watching Hell’s Kitchen. My, you were insane on it, but you inspired me. I began experimenting more and more in the kitchen. I looked at different types of meats and sauces. I started to add flavour to my food, like the juice of a lemon, or herbs, or sprinkling cheese on it. I looked forward to cooking. Granted, I was still no chef, I was happy with my experiments. Still, I thought you were kind of an arse of guy.

Then I watched Kitchen Nightmares, The F Word and MasterChef. I’ll admit that I’m wrong – you are a wonderful guy. And now with the Hawker Heroes challenge, you were placed against Singapore but you’ve shown all of your niceties in the way you’ve spoken about our cuisine.

At the end of the day, I just want to give you a pat on the back, and tell you that you’ve done a really good job. Here’s hoping to some day meet you in person.

Cheers,
SH

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