Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014 - Remember The Hawkers

Although this gentleman to the right (or top) is not participating in this year's Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014, I think it is still very timely to acknowledge stalwarts like him that have contributed so much to Singapore's food and hawker heritage.

It might seem strange that on the eve of the event that I would focus more on the people than the dishes themselves that would be featured during the event.

But let's not forget, that without the hard work and intense labour that each hawker puts in, there would not have been any hawker food in the first place.

It is a tough life to be a hawker, be it decades ago or even today. As a hawker, the hours are long and tiring and the reward is usually more than just monetary. It is the satisfaction that each food maker longs for, to feed people and cook them food that will leave them smiling at the end of the meal.

Sure, Singaporeans often debate (sometimes argue) over the best chicken rice and bak kut teh and that is part of our Singaporean food culture. For a country that prides itself over their food heritage, it is the single most discussed thing in our daily conversations.

And hawker food dominates the top of our food discussions, not because it is the most refined of cuisines. But because it is the only genre of food that can encapsulate a Singaporean identity. And that triggers a sense of pride among many Singaporeans.

At times, our fevered discussions on what is the best thing to eat can be polarising, but that only means that we have a genuine passion for our food culture and heritage. Yet, often we miss out on the element that matters the most. The people in the kitchen that have to slave through hours of unbearable heat just to produce a simple dish of street food that is so Singaporean.

So, as we countdown to another day or so before the event that brings together some of our finest street food in Singapore, let us pay a sincere tribute to every hawker here in Singapore. It does not matter if they make the best carrot cake or not, it is the fact that they are there that means more.

We owe it to each and every hawker for our distinctive street and hawker food culture. Young or old, good or average, let's pay tribute to them. For those who are showcasing their works at Suntec this Saturday, let us also pay a small homage to their efforts as well.

All the hawkers and chefs for this event are sacrificing their own time and money for a good cause. It is not a cliche to say that this is charity at its best. Every single hawker has put in their utmost to deliver some fabulous (and at times, innovative and unexpected) dishes for every single person who will walk through Expo Halls 401 and 402.

So, if you are still deciding on whether to come or not, think no more. Just come down and enjoy the food and mingle with the passionate folks who have taken the time and trouble to prepare some of their best food for you.

Lastly, I would like to pay tribute to Leslie Tay. Without him, there would never have been a hawker showcase like this. It was his original idea to bring together the best of the best hawkers in a single day event to not only highlight what is so great about this hawker tradition, but to contribute to a worthy cause.

Many know him as a celebrity blogger who is crazy about food. Well, I know him personally as a friend who has a burning ambition to help people. His appetite to do good for others is what made this hawker event possible in the first place.

As more photos of the food that will be available on Saturday gets shared on social media, remember the one single most important thing that makes this incredible event a possibility.

Remember the hawkers.

See you there, from the Silver Chef!

Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014
22 Nov, 11am to 5pm
Suntec Expo Halls 401 and 402

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