Michelin-starred Liao Fan Hawker Chan will be at the Singapore Experience Zone by Singapore Tourism Board at Zomaland Season 2 at JLN Stadium from December 13 to December 15, 2019. By Sushmita Srivastav
1. Tell us about the collaboration between the Singapore Tourism Board and Zomato for the second edition of Zomaland.
The Singapore Tourism Board has been doing some interesting collaborations in the Indian market. I am glad that this time, I am a part of such an activation where foodies in Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad will get to experience authentic Singaporean food and taste my popular Soya Sauce Chicken. Through Zomaland, we hope to give foodies in India a sneak-peek into Singaporean dishes and entice them to visit Singapore to experience the diverse culinary offerings Singapore has to offer.
2. What would be the signature dishes that you would be serving at the ‘Singapore Experience Zone’?
We will be serving my signature Soya Sauce Chicken Rice.
3. From cooking for the family out of sheer passion to being a globally acclaimed chef, how was the journey?
My culinary journey began during the daily preparation of my family’s meals. That early exposure developed my passion for cooking. The foundation of my culinary passion was based strongly on the belief that good food should be made simple and affordable. At the tender age of 15, I left school and my hometown to Singapore in search of work. During these early years of my apprenticeship under a Hong Kong chef, I learned and developed the Soya Sauce Chicken recipe. In 2009, I started Liao Fan Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle in Chinatown Complex Food Centre.
4. What did it take for a hawker to earn a Michelin Star?
A lot of hard work and passion. I was passionate about cooking since I was young, and daily food preparation is hard work. I have to wake early in the morning to prepare the sauce for marination and to achieve the signature flavour and tenderness; many hours of manual braising is required in the preparation routine. I use premium and fresh ingredients to prepare the dishes daily and firmly believe that consistency in taste and food quality are essential to culinary success.
Singapore has a diverse food scene with hawker food being a favourite, not just with the locals but also with tourists. This has certainly motivated me to work harder and better.
The award of one Michelin Star from Michelin Guide Singapore in July 2016 gave me great pride. It was beyond my imagination that my humble recipe would be recognised by the most prestigious Michelin Guide and awarded the title “The World’s First Hawker to be awarded one Michelin Star” and “The Cheapest Michelin-starred Meal in The World”.
5. Describe Cantonese cuisine in three words.
Colourful, fragrant, and flavourful.
6. What is your first perception of India and Indian cuisine?
The cuisine of India is one of the world’s most diverse cuisines, characterised by its sophisticated and subtle use of the many spices, vegetables, and grains grown across the country. The varied cultures across the country have played an influential role in the evolution of its cuisine.
Indian cuisine has also influenced cuisines across the world, especially those of Southeast Asia. I have always been intrigued by the variety of flavours that the country offers, and I am excited as I will get a chance to taste and experience some of it this time during my visit.
7. What do you think of the street food scene in India? How can it compete with Singapore’s?
The street food scene in India is known worldwide for its taste, diversity, and accessibility. I have heard that every region has its own speciality, which I would be keen to try. One common thing between both India and Singapore is that their local street fare plays the role of delicious melting pots of the diverse cultures present in each of them. Both countries are also experimental and are able to adopt new trends innovatively when it comes to food.
8. One place you’d like to explore in India for food?
I am visiting Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad as part of Zomaland Season 2. This will give me a chance to explore the cuisine in each of these cities.
9. Which is your favourite destination for food across the world?
Japan and China.
10. Pick one dish each for your favourite.
Staple breakfast – Bread and coffee
Comfort food – Chicken rice
Guilty pleasure – Beef and game food