Diner en Blanc vs Ultimate Hawker Fest: Let’s Celebrate Our Own Hawker Food!

By now you might have heard about the Diner En Blanc fiasco where the organizers have dismissed Chicken Rice and Tau Huay food that are not considered “quality” enough to be brought to the chic picnic. In order to be invited to the event, the organizers have asked food bloggers to write a blog post about the event and then to suggest what “White Food” they would bring. When chicken rice and tau huay were suggested, the organizers felt that they do not qualify to be brought to the event and asked the blogger to remove his post. When he did, they told him that there wasn’t enough space and he was uninvited to the event! You can read the background to the story here and here, and the subsequent response from our community on our facebook fanpage.

Now I am not here to spread more ill feelings. As a patriotic Singaporean and a person that is passionate about local food, I would naturally feel very offended that our local cuisine is not seen to be on par with that of the French. But let’s face it. The fact is that Chicken Rice and Tau Huay are the working man’s food. I wouldn’t bring my wife to eat Chicken Rice on our anniversary unless I am prepared to sleep on the couch! But on the other hand, a French couple coming to Singapore on their honeymoon might consider eating Chicken Rice at the Chatterbox as a very special occasion.


The problem sometimes lies with us Singaporeans not embracing and celebrating our own food. Let’s face it, when was the last time you ate Singapore food that has been made with great ingredients? I just visited Tina’s newly opened Hock Lam Beef Kway Teow stall at the Alexandra Retail Centre and she tells me that people complain that her Beef Kway Teow which sells for $6.50 is expensive while they are happily paying $13 for the Ramen just next door!

I have been thinking about this ever since I started writing the blog and through the years I have been trying to get hawkers to improve on their dishes by using better ingredients. I realize of course that using better ingredients will cost more and there are many Singaporeans who are not able to pay more for their food and rely on the $2 chicken rice. But, I feel that there is room for some hawkers to provide us better quality food and being able to charge more for putting in better ingredients.

I was planning to announce the news of our upcoming Ultimate Hawker Fest a little later, but with all this talk about Diner en Blanc happening, I believe now is a good time to let you know that for the past 2 months, I have been working with Touch Community Services to organize an event where I bring together 20 hawkers and Chefs and challenge them to cook up the Ultimate Hawker Dish. All the hawkers and chefs are already on board. We shall be having the likes of Hock Lam Beef Noodles using Wagyu Beef for their Beef Kway Teow, Song Fa Bak Kut Teh coming up with their XO Bak Kut Teh, Fatty Cheong Char Siew using Iberico Pork jowl to create the ultimate Char Siew, Jin Jin Desserts pairng up with 818 Durian for the Mao Shan Wang Cendol. I even managed to get the Hillstreet Char Kway Teow Uncle to come out of his one year hiding to Char Kway Teow for us and Chefs like Eric Teo to make Boston Lobster Laksa!

We shall be holding the event at the golf course where we will provide the tables on the golf green, under the stars and you all can come with family, friends, dress up in shorts and slippers, eat with chopsticks, your hands, fork and spoons etc.

Now we are aiming to cater to 2000 people, so this is a major event and setting it all up does cost money so we are now looking for sponsors who can come in to help raise the funds we need for the logistics of setting this all up! This event is a fund raising event of which we will donate everything to charity! So if you can help or know someone who is willing to come in as a sponsor, please write to leslie.tay@gmail.com and I can furnish you with more details.

I understand OCBC Bank is one of the sponsors for the Diner En Blanc event. It would be great in we can get some of the other local institutions to be our main sponsor!

See you all at the Ultimate Hawker Fest!