Review: The Great Food Festival 2017
RWS and Savour have spared no expense in setting up for The Great Food Festival: a ballroom in the basement level of the RWS Conventions Centre, for example, has been taken over as the location for Rollin’ Sweet Times, where over 300 different desserts are available for the tasting from the throngs of hungry guests.
At the official opening on Thursday, remarks were made by both Senior Vice President of Hospitality at RWS Mr Yim Choong Hing and Darren Chen, Executive Director of Savour Events. TGFF truly represents a brand new, awesome collaboration between the two forces of tourism, and we were certainly excited to get started on finding out exactly what was in store for us at each and every section.
As we went on a short tour of the area, we thought to ourselves: How will we ever try everything this place has to offer? One of the highlights was no doubt the Cake Atelier, where we watched Instagram cake decorators Clifford Luu and Julian Angel proudly display their handiwork, which can only be described as works of art. It’s little wonder then that their masterclasses (limited to 20 seats per session) are nearly sold out. With classes that usually go up to $600 a session outside, it’s a real steal at TGFF this time around to get them at discounted rates, and participants will even get to take home the entire cake they decorated at the end of the session!
Handily enough, the entire TGFF is clearly split into three main zones, each on one level of RWS. As mentioned, Rollin’ Sweet Times, the dessert zone is tucked away in the basement, while the floor one level up plays host to the Heritage Lane. Finally, up on the ground level, beside the S.E.A. Aquarium, a finely curated selection of international and local chefs take centrestage, with Michelin stars aplenty, at the aptly named Star Chef Arena. Here’s some of the highlights and favourites we had at the inaugural TGFF:
Star Chef Arena
Over at the Bull Ring, we were introduced to Londoner Ben Spalding, a former chef at Heston Blumenthal’s famous Fat Duck restaurant in England. Spalding’s an extremely easygoing, likeable man who runs his own bespoke catering and dining company, titled Puzzle Projects. With his background though, this is no run-of-the-mill food, and you can only expect quality when he caters for weddings, or his favourite type of events, DJ parties. Said Spalding: “In my younger days, I used to be so focused on making food that was all about impressing the eyes and the ears. Now with a little more experience, I’ve shifted my focus to the flavour, and find joy in making.” He’s not wrong there – we tried out his sinful sounding fried chicken skin sandwich and sighed at how lusciously all the elements came together. Despite how calorific it sounds, the dish in fact, tasted really fresh with its keen selection of veggies sandwiched between two fried chicken skins, with a smooth piece of chicken meat in the middle. Spalding is also apparently in the midst of working on a new show with Netflix, slated for release sometime next year.
We headed over to the area in front of the S.E.A. Aquarium, and were pleasantly surprised to see Top Chef Season 10 winner Kristen Kish manning a booth. Although she has yet to set up a permanent restaurant space, she’s fast gaining traction with the countless experiences and insights she’s been gaining on her travels. All of this of course, paid off when we tried her Hamachi – the broth the fish came in was spectacular and full of flavour, mixing in the taste of sweet onion, bacon, miso and potato to form a truly scrumptious combination and overall, was an easygoing dish that cleansed our palate. If you can’t get enough of Kish, then you can look out for her new book Kristen Kish Cooking: Recipes and Techniques, slated for release at the end of October. Maybe you too can learn how to be a top chef!
We also spoke to Thai chef Ian Kittichai of Tangerine, who presented a 12 hour cooked boneless wagyu short rib, served with pickled king oyster mushrooms and slathered with truffle vinaigrette (yes, it was amazing). Kittichai is a man with a number of projects and restaurants under his belt, and has no plans to stop there: in fact, he’s currently in the midst of setting up a new restaurant in central London, and hopes to bring quality Thai food to England and establish his name there with his well known farm to table style, along with healthy and green concepts already seen in some of his other ventures.
One level down at the Heritage Lane, we finally came face to face with one Michelin starred restaurant Labyrinth (or at least their booth), normally located in the Esplanade Mall. We fell in love with their Wagyu Shortrib with Satay Espuma, which brought the idea of satay to new heights with how the wagyu melted right in our mouths and was perfectly complemented by the peanut-based sauce. Take note that although it used to be on Labyrinth’s menu, it’s no more available at their main restaurant, so you’d better come on down and try it while you can this weekend!
We also enjoyed FOC Restaurant’s King Crab Cannelloni, a modern twist on the pasta-based cannelloni, with finely chopped Alaskan king crab meat enveloped in blanched zucchini ribbons, topped with diced tomatoes and dotted with sriracha and sriracha mayonnaise. Sounds a little like rabbit food (which we aren’t really fans of), but the ingredients all came together and made for a truly tasty, cohesive bite. That’s right, we ate each cannelloni whole because it was that good.
Over at Foo’d by Davide Oldani, we were recommended the Grilled Octopus. A Mediterranean octopus marinated in red wine and smoked to crisp perfection, served with a velvety potato mash, we loved how there was a smorgasbord of textures coming together in our mouths, and how none of the flavours overpowered each other, instead coalescing in harmony to the sheer joy of our tastebuds. We’re aware that grilled octopus often has the problem of focusing all its flavour on the skin, leaving little for the meat itself, but Oldani has performed a real miracle by having a real juicy morsel all around, each and every section of the tentacle grilled to perfection. We’ll have to check out the whole restaurant next time we head to Victoria Theatre for a show.
Favourites from the media preview we had last week Blue Lotus and Table At 7 also made their appearance at the Heritage Lane, and we cannot emphasise enough to try their Crispy Pork Lard Truffle La Mian and Tender-Braised Beef Rendang with Pickled Acar and Steamed Yellow Ginger Rice respectively. Chef Eugenia Ong even provided some tasty (spicy!) belachan to add to the already dense and pleasurable taste palate that her rendang offered, and we were still hankering for more long after we finished it up.
Rollin’ Sweet Times
The night was already coming to a close, but we still had hardly gotten our hands on some of the amazing desserts we saw just now down at Rollin’ Sweet Times. Two of the biggest stars at this section were undoubtedly Black Star Pastry and N2 Gelato, both hailing from Australia. Together, the two collaborated on an Instagram-worthy venture – glow in the dark desserts, and there was even a conveniently set up dark room right beside the booths where guests could bring their glowing desserts into to see the full effect! Speaking to co-founder of N2 Desserts Min Chai, he revealed that the secret to making the dishes glow in the dark lay in the Riboflavin they contained.
Check out our glowing Yuzu Honey Sorbet in the dark room!
We’re also always happy to discover new stalls and entrepreneurs at each event we go to, and this time around, we met up with the guys behind Milkbites. Serving up fried milk, we loved how they prepared them fresh, with passion and the utmost consistency, crispy on the outside and a soft, chewy centre, and topped off with a tasty Hokkaido milk based ice cream.
At the rate we go, we’re no longer surprised to see The Wicked Cream pop up at literally every single one of the events we attend. Sure enough, there they were, with not one but TWO all new creations specially for TGFF. This time around, they had an all new flavour of soft serve ice cream – Chocolate Hojicha, which tasted both endearingly toasted and comforting (from the rich chocolate flavour!). Wicked Cream also came up with a new way to have the marshmallows they’re famous for – they’ve encased ice-cream in toasted s’mores, and at TGFF, had two flavours available for purchase: a handcrafted watermelon creamy ice cream encased in a refreshing lime marshmallow, and a handcrafted sea salt gula melaka creamy ice cream encased in coconut marshmallow and dark chocolate! We have no idea what goes on in their brains, but whatever it is, we love how these guys keep blowing our minds with each new innovation at every festival.
Finally, we were also suitably impressed by Nanyang Flavours, which combined traditional dragon beard candy with dragon breath. Imagine putting one of those sugary pieces of peanut candy into your mouth, and be slightly taken aback by the cool, nitrogen infused dessert these guys have changed it into. As you open your mouth in surprise, a breath of white smoke escapes your lips, providing you with a sense of delight. And guess what? Because of the nitrogen, the dragon beard candy is now super crunchy, and provides a sweet finish to any meal. At the booth itself, there’s even a step by step guide on how best to eat it, so be sure to check them out while you’re here, and for more information, you can visit their Facebook page here
If you’re coming down to check out the festival in all its glory, be sure to leave enough time to explore everything! We severely underestimated how massive this festival is, and we wish we’d spent more time there to really soak up the atmosphere and of course, eat more food. For its inaugural edition, The Great Food Festival is off to a real promising start, and it’s convinced us that this is a festival that can and should become an annual event; we’ll certainly be back, and can’t wait to see them keep up the good work and bring in more amazing food to savour, year after year.
The Great Food Festival takes place from 21st – 24th September at Resorts World Sentosa. Tickets and more information available here
The Great Food Festival (TGFF)
When: 21st – 24th September
Where: Resorts World Sentosa
UOB Cardmembers and RWS Invites members will enjoy 10% off tickets sales. Visitors can also purchase the TGFF Experience Pack at S$78, including S$35 TGFF credits at the Star Chef Arena, S$10 TGFF credits at Rollin’ Sweet Times, a goodie bag worth S$44.90, complimentary full-day parking, plus all-day access to the Celebrity Chef Auditorium for live demo sessions. TGFF credits can be used for food purchase.