Friday, July 31, 2015

[Giveaway] Betty Crocker Gift Set

Hosted by Victoria Cheng, witness the unveiling of the Guinness World Record breaking of the World's Largest Cupcake Mosaic (30,000 cupcakes) on Saturday 1 Aug, at 4pm at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre, Concourse. In honor of the event, Betty Crocker is offering THREE exclusive Betty Crocker gift sets for Gastronommy readers.

This Saturday, 1 August 2015, come join me as I host a very special event at Suntec! Betty Crocker holds a special place in my childhood heart.  Coincidentally, even referenced the brand here on my story, "A little about me, how this all came to be..." One of the first things my toddler-self baked was the Betty Crocker brownies. It was really easy for my parents to introduce to me since it only required three items: water, eggs, vegetable oil. The best part was (and still is) licking the remaining chocolate batter off the spatula.

The older foodie me will always acknowledge that building a cupcake from scratch is another level, but I appreciate the brand for the nostalgia factor, and also how it revolutionized baking at home in the 1940s (more information below on that story).

As part of the nation's 50th birthday, we will be attempting to set a Guinness World Record for "Largest Cupcake Mosaic" and this initiative will see people from all walks of life - regardless of whether they have baking experience - in a collaborative effort to give back to the community as the finished product will be distributed to partner beneficiaries and charities.

To help spread the message, Betty Crocker is offering THREE exclusive Betty Crocker gift sets for Gastronommy readers. Why use 10 ingredients to bake a cake when you only need 3 using Betty Crocker cake mix?
The gift set contains:
Betty Crocker Comp Buttermilk Pancake mix
Betty Crocker Brownie Family Fudge
Betty Crocker DBL Choc Chunk Cookie
Betty Crocker Cookie Chocolate Chip Mix
Betty Crocker Supermoist Devils Food Cake Mix
Betty Crocker Supermoist Yellow Cake Mix
Betty Crocker Blueberry Muffin mix
Betty Crocker Supermoist Cake Mix Red Velvet

TO WIN Write in the comments below, Facebook (here), or Instagram (here): Name the only 3 ingredients needed to bake your own premium cake/ cupcake using Betty Crocker cake mix?

Event: Betty Crocker World’s Largest Cupcake Mosaic for SG50
Drop by the event with your children and experience how easy it is to make a delicious cupcake with Betty Crocker cake mix!
Hosted by Victoria Cheng, witness the unveiling of the record on Saturday 1 Aug, at 4pm at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre, Concourse.

As part of Singapore's SG50 celebrations, Betty Crocker set out to break the Guinness World Record for Largest Cupcake Mosaic. The current record is for 21,164 cupcakes / 125 sq meters in El Salvador! We aim to make 30,000 cupcakes in 8 hours at Suntec Convention Centre, of which the mosaic will be unveiled at the Atrium at 3pm.

This is our way to present a gift that is made by Singaporeans - young, old, all religions and races - for Singaporeans to commemorate the country's 50th birthday by giving back to the community. Cupcakes from this record-breaking structure will be donated to charities in Singapore, including Food From the Heart.

Who is this Betty Crocker? Known as the First Lady of Food, 'she' was the second most recognized female name after the United States' First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt when the brand icon was first created. Betty Crocker is the leader in the baking category who revolutionized the process. Originally, the brand created an add-water only mix, but they realized that housewives still wanted more of a hand in the process. Thus, the three-step recipe was created.

Betty Crocker has singlehandedly changed baking in households since 1940s America, because of their easy signature 3-step process and delicious recipes for cakes and other desserts.
GIVEAWAY! Betty Crocker is offering THREE exclusive Betty Crocker gift sets for Gastronommy readers. TO WIN: Write in the comments below naming the only 3 ingredients needed to bake your own premium cake/cupcake using Betty Crocker cake mix? Hosted by Victoria Cheng, witness the unveiling of the Guinness World Record breaking of the World's Largest Cupcake Mosaic (approx 30,000 cupcakes baked in 8 hours) on Saturday 1 Aug, at 4pm at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre, Concourse. The gift set contains: Betty Crocker Buttermilk Pancake mix, Brownie Family Fudge, Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie, Cookie Chocolate Chip Mix, Supermoist Devils Food Cake Mix, Supermoist Yellow Cake Mix, Blueberry Muffin mix, Supermoist Cake Mix Red Velvet Detailed information on: #gastronommygiveaway
A photo posted by the chubby ninja (@victoriacheng) on

Images from, see Recipes by Betty Crocker.
For any enquiries, please email BETTYCROCKERSG50@GMAIL.COM

How to get to Suntec?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

[Press] Tatler Singapore's Top 10 Instagrams to Follow

Thanks for including my instagram, Tatler!  See the article link here.

Top 10 Singapore based fashionistas to follow on Instagram 
If you are bored of having your instagram feed filled with the same kind of pictures, let us guide you through the top 10 rising fashion stars, right here on your very own shores. From TV hosts to budding fashion design stars, we have rounded up the top 10 Singapore based fashion stars, sure to brighten up your instagram feed in a flash.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Diageo World Class Finalist 2014: Peter Chua

This was written last year, but I just noticed I never posted it on Gastronommy!

It’s that time of year again, when the results of the Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS are in.

Cocktails have come full circle since the 1860s, birth of the modern cocktail bar. It lost its luster over the course of Prohibition and the 70s sugary disco drinks. But fast-forward to 2014: we are living in the cocktail renaissance, with the idea of the bartender being considered a profession once more. This resurgence respects tradition, yet we also see creative individuals reinventing the classics using modern technology to innovate and push the cocktail scene to new levels.

Celebrating this artisan cocktail culture is the World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide, an online destination featuring some of the finest cocktails around the world made by the world's best bartenders (along with information on where you can try it). The guide was inspired by the Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS, an outstanding global training program that focuses on the craft of the bartender, helping to build careers in the industry. The program culminates in an annual luxury landmark week where the Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year is announced.

Talented bartenders participate annually in this highly anticipated industry event, going through vigorous regional heats and national finals (Diageo Reserve World Class), before representing their own country at the global final. And tiny as the country may be, Singapore has proudly been represented as a finalist* every single year.
*Finalists: Aubrey Sim (2009), Richard Gillam (2010), Aki Eguchi (2011), Aki Eguchi (2012), Zachary de Git (2013)

This 2014 sees Singapore’s first Singaporean finalist, Peter Chua of 28 Hong Kong Street. Singaporean born-and-bred, Peter made it to the top 6 finalists in the world.

Bartending started off as “just a job” to make ends meet for Peter Chua, until one fateful night when he met the owners of 28 Hong Kong Street and Michael Callahan, the barman who trained him. Over time, he realized the breadth of history behind each cocktail—appreciating that in each drink, such as a single 18-year old bottle takes a lot of passion and patience. It also allowed him another creative output since his days as an aspiring musician.

A Tale of Two Martinis: Homage

Peter Chua, the 26-year old musician turned bartender made it to the top 6 finalists in the world. Today, he presents to me one of his winning cocktail duos… A Tale of Two Martinis: Homage. Peter Chua uses Oscar Wilde’s tale of Dorian Gray and a supernatural portrait to describe the logic behind his two cocktails, “As time went on, the Martini, like the main character of The Picture of Dorian Gray, deviated further and further from its former beauty. The Martinez in particular was a beautiful marriage of strength, sweetness and bitterness, a cocktail created by Jerry P. Thomas in 1887. But over time, it transformed into a drink that did not even contain gin or vermouth anymore.” Peter sought to allow the Martinez to recapture its legacy as the ultimate cocktail.

Additionally, Peter noted that today’s guests prefer to have the option of personalizing his drink—no longer are barmen the sole definer of a drink, guests now tell the barman what they want.

“People want dry drinks,” says Peter, “I took that trend and combined it with the fact that people nowadays want a customization of drinks, so I give them a choice between these two martinis.” He notes that the olfactory, our sense of smell, plays a big part in taste—the tongue can only taste 5 distinct qualities, while the nose can distinguish among hundreds of substances—so instead of using a citrus zest as traditionally done with a Martinez, he utilizes edible essential oils for a refined effect. He presents sarsarpilla for a sweeter finish and thyme for those who prefer a savory note.

“My drink was very simple compared to everyone else, but the competition was intense,” describes Peter. On the first day of the rigorous 5-day competition, he saw his fellow 49 competitors bring in all sorts of items from chocolate pebbles to dry ice, “But despite all the talent there, it went from 50 to 48 people on the first day, and by the third day it was down to 16.” Making it to the top 16 was his personal goal, but with all the support he was receiving back home in Singapore, he felt further motivated to push on.

Then he made the top 12. As he climbed higher through the competition, the pressure increased, but he felt himself relax more, “I treated each competition like I was just a barman working behind the bar having fun and hoping for the best—it helped the nerves too. Once I made top 6, I was already happy being the first in Southeast Asia to get this far.”

Balance and professionalism was key in surviving the 5-days. “It was an intense competition. You’re rushing for a challenge, and the judges are pressuring you by going up in your face and asking questions. We slept 4 hours a day between the competition and various events going on. It required a lot of self-discipline to not get too loose with the endless supply of alcohol too.” The most rewarding part of the experience for Peter however, was how much he had learned from the judges, his peers, and the country itself.

A city known for its legendary cocktails, London was a particularly exciting location for Peter Chua, who has an appreciation for connecting history to his craft. Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS also set up a room called the Ketel One Concierge. “Everyone learned a lot; you see all the creations that else around you is doing. The Ketel One Concierge was an awesome room with minibars all over and all the equipment you would ever need just for practice and prep for your challenges. You share ideas and you make new friends,” describes Peter. (There is no way to cheat since recipes were required to be sent in before challenges began) “The cool thing about bartenders is that it’s like an international family. After WORLD CLASS, you realize you’ve built a network—for example, if I ever go to Sweden, I know who to call up and who me around, and if any of them ever come down to Singapore, I’ll be doing the same.”

The Drink

He bases his Homage on the Martinez, the cocktail known to be the predecessor to the Martini. Peter explains, “Jerry Thomas invented the Martinez; he was the first super rockstar bartender who also wrote The Bon-Vivant’s Companion.”

Peter makes his own adaptation, while staying true to the character of the Martinez. For example, he uses Kirsh instead of maraschino liqueur.

Also inspired by the Negroni, Peter uses the Negroni’s bitter-sweet component to influence his concoction. “The Martinez is not as bitter in its original form, but I wanted to make a drink that I would like to drink!” Peter says.

See the recipe for Peter Chua's Johnny Walker Blue Label cocktail (The Nutcracker) here at World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

[Press] Interview with Bon Vivant

Excerpts and highlights:

Can the lifestyle component in Singapore keep up with New York and other major cities?

Sometimes it is almost unfair to compare it to New York. Nowadays, there is always something going on in Singapore. However, plenty is operating on a repetitive formula, meaning you know exactly what to expect. In New York, walking every ten blocks is already an adventure. In New York, people are really trying to get out of the box and be original, while in Singapore I feel the majority still go by a certain formula that simply works instead of taking creative risks.

Singapore’s F&B scene has changed a lot in the last years – restaurants are getting more sophisticated, concept dining and bars are turning bespoke. How do you see this development?

What’s great is that while the F&B scene has changed a lot, local food culture is still king – it’s what Singaporeans still crave most, and why tourists come to Singapore. As for the changes in the international cuisine, just 10 years ago, the only ‘trendy’ and well established restaurants were fine-dining French restaurants. But globally there has been a shift away from white-table cloth service, and it can be seen in Singapore as well. People are interested in something more personal and bespoke, people are curious about other cuisines, and they want to know where their ingredients are from. Chefs started becoming stars. In Singapore, Marina Bay Sands did help kick start the ‘celebrity restaurant’ scene a few years ago, but now we’re seeing countless independent restaurant start ups that are bringing in concepts from Australia, Europe, and Americas.

And where do you see the scene heading next?

It might not need more cocktail bars. It was really great when all these Western concept places like specialty coffee cafes, taquerias, tapas bars, cajun cuisine, and such started to open up, but I think the peak of this trend was a 1,5 years ago – I believe Singapore was even surpassing Hong Kong in terms of international cuisine offerings and quality. But where is it heading next?

In New York, for example it’s very cool to be able to know how to cook at home at the moment. But I also see the scene heading back to street food, but reinvented in some way. Yes, food trucks are big in the States, but you won’t see that happening here for a variety of reasons. It would be nice to see Asian food become cool again. I guess that hasn’t really been done here in a big way; it is usually all about Western cuisines being trendy. Funny though, that what is actually big in New York right now are Asian cuisines – grass is always greener on the other side, right.

New restaurants and bars are opening up every week. However, not all survive. Observing the scene for a while, what do you think is key to make it in Singapore’s F&B scene?

It’s like in any big city, an owner can’t solely rely on his friends coming to his bar or restaurant. You need to cater to a wider audience. If it’s going to be niche, then you have to be aware of the challenge. Most people don’t understand the amount of capital that is required to sustain your bar over the first three years. A dose of luck is good, but you need to understand how much work you will have to put into it. If you have the right capital, but you aren’t there or don’t have the right people on the ground, then it’s just going to fall apart. Location, consistency and service are key too. If you don’t have good service, you better have damn good quality in whatever it is you are serving.

What is next for you?

I just found a producer and we are partnering up to create a whole food-related video series at Gastronommy and for various editorial partners who want to incorporate video into their lineup. This will encompass much more than a simple restaurant review – we want to share real stories, real information in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way. As much as I love writing and will continue to do so on the side, we need to keep up with the times and move beyond print and television. The average person consumes information in a very different way today, so we are pushing more into the digital front. The series will roll out at the end of July.

Monday, July 20, 2015

I'd make a meat pun, but I'd probably butcher it

So, meat.

Braised Pork Belly
Recipe by Vivian Pei for ToTT TV
Serves 4

1kg of Canadian pork belly, skin-on
6 cloves of garlic
6 shallots (or small red onion), minced
6 slices of ginger
1 teaspoon five spice powder
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
4 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoon sugar
Sea salt
Olive oil

To serve:
Steamed leaf buns
Thinly sliced cucumber
Chili sauce if desired

First, blanch the pork with some boiling water. Discard the water and let the pork cool and dry.

Season the pork with about 1 teaspoon of salt. Then place the pork, 3 pieces each of ginger and garlic in a pot and add just enough water to cover the pork.

Boil at low heat for a good 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove the pork and reserve the soup for later use. Let the pork cool and dry with paper. Then slice the pork into thick slices that will fit into the buns. Set aside.

In a larger pot (or pressure cooker if using), add a teaspoon of cooking oil and heat up. Add remaining garlic, ginger and shallots into it and fry for a minute.

Then add in the cinnamon stick and star anise and continue to stir fry till fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Finally add the pork slices and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the reserved soup to the pot, follow by the dark and light soy sauces, five spice powder and sugar. Cover and let it boil. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and let it stew for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Or if you have a pressure cooker, it should take about 30 minutes depending on how thick the pork slices are.

When ready and the pork is tender, remove it from the pot and reduce the liquid by half.

Serve with a slice or two of pork belly in a leaf bun as well as the accompanying vegetables and sauces. Make sure you have napkins!


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