Saturday, July 6, 2013

Gordon Ramsay in Singapore: Day 2 - Visiting 328 Katong Laksa for Singtel Hawker Heroes Challenge

Oh yes, another crazy day with ravenous media and if at all possible, even more rabid fans. Gordon Ramsay had come to 328 Katong Laksa to learn more about what he's up against tomorrow at the Singtel Hawker Heroes cook-off (more details in my first post, where he visited Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice).

Today, he had come to see founder Madam Lucy Koh (or Nancy as her regulars like to call her) and her son Ryan Koh who has been helping his mom since he was 13.

The Kohs showed him the ingredients that go into the laksa and how to make it.

Ramsay is quite fascinated with how they make the spice paste blend. He keeps talking about the blend being the secret that makes it work.

But when he had a taste of the laksa broth, he was impressed enough to say he would need to change his own plan of approach.

Ramsay talked about his experience at Jumbo Seafood (which was not open to the media). He described it as “crazy”. He found that it unusual (to put it mildly) that tomato ketchup was used in the chili crab sauce, but he says he’s learned to embrace it, because it’s what the locals want.

“Customers vote with their feet, and this place is full on a daily I’ve learned not to get hung up on that ketchup, and learned to understand how and why they have arrived at that flavour.”

I quite like the way he sat down with this family to chat for a bit - I'm not sure if they were deliberately arranged or whether this was impromptu. My friend Serene joked that maybe it was the cute little boy and said I should have brought Jolie. Maybe Ramsay will sit down with us too. Yeah, right.

Ramsay and his team were up til 4.30am brushing up their game plan. He has also met local food guru KF Seetoh who gave him "some serious advice" and good tips.

He has been openly candid about stealing secrets and tips, like a magpie. Well, chefs learn from each other. At yesterday's press conference, he says he's loved Singapore food since 12 years ago, when he started working with Singapore Airlines.

For us, all we wanted to do was steal opportunities for good photos. If yesterday was tough, today it was even harder getting photos. The handlers and security were very strict! But justifiably so, of course.  It was potential anarchy and confusion.

But Gordon was still very generous in terms of attention to fans. He signed lots of things and allowed photos, sometimes even overruling his own handlers' caution.

Again, it's really surreal seeing the chef right here in our Katong neighbourhood.

Ramsay also gave a short interview at the end of the session.

With such a crowd gone wild, he almost had trouble leaving in his car. Well, he's done all his visits to the three Hawker Heroes, so all that remains is the final showdown at Newton Food Centre tomorrow - see you there from 6pm on Sunday, 7 July 2013. It's free entry and everyone is invited. I expect hordes that will make the Hello Kitty queues look tame.

For more on what he said during the interview, check out my story on Yahoo Singapore:

Or see this short clip.

Best of luck, Chef Ramsay.

Who will you be voting for?

You can follow me on Instagram (@Camemberu) to see near live updates on the events on Sunday.

All photos above taken using the Canon EOS 6D that Canon Singapore kindly loaned me.

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