A developing palate

Singapore’s tourism and hospitality players are serving up a rich menu of culinary offerings, driven by a publicity blitz from global events

The Inside Access offers bespoke dining and private events

Food and hawker fare have long been a selling point for Singapore, but now tourism and hospitality players are cooking up a storm of elevated gastronomical experiences to entice visitors to the city.

The Inside Access offers bespoke dining and private events

Singapore in recent years has seen a brimming culinary calendar populated with the likes of the Michelin chef series, Singapore Food Festival and Sentosa GrillFest, Beerfest Asia, Whisky Live, World Gourmet Summit, Singapore Restaurant Week and Oktoberfest, with scores of celebrity restaurants and F&B pop-ups thrown into the mix.

For example, F&B distributor Mead – which supplies premium Japanese imports to restaurants such as Tippling Club and Cut by Wolfgang Puck – has taken to introducing special sake pairing and food tasting sessions with its restaurant partners.

Andre Chalson, managing director of Mead, shared: “Events like this round out the Singapore culinary legend. It’s all about storytelling, our story as a nation of food aficionados. To truly live up to that reputation, we must continue to embrace all food cultures and hold events like this, to give communities access to new culinary delights.”

Additionally, hoisted by high-profile events such as the Trump-Kim summit in June, as well as the popularity of book-turned-movie Crazy Rich Asians and TV series Masterchef Singapore, more players are raising the bar even higher for culinary experiences.

Arron Lim, founder of The Inside Access, commented: “With the premiere of Crazy Rich Asians, there will probably be a surge in travellers interested to check out what sort of luxury experiences there are in Singapore.”

The Singapore-based curator recently launched Insider Experiences, a menu of bespoke private events that brings renowned chefs and restaurant partners to any venue, including on a yacht with its newest Chef On Board series.

Lim added that exposure on the golden screen can also open up opportunities for attractions beyond traditional luxury, from Singapore’s “urban landscape to (its) dining scene”.

The movie, for example, inspired food tour company Wok ‘n’ Stroll to launch a Crazy Rich Asians – “Behind the Scenes” Food Tour in August. Its itinerary treats participants to local food mentioned in the novel and movie, such as carrot cake, roti prata and Malay cakes at venues like Newton Hawker Centre and Joo Chiat; as well as more upscale venues like Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant New Ubin Seafood at CHIJMES and LeVeL33 Craft-Brewery Restaurant & Lounge.

“Singapore looks so attractive and sexy in the movie. We wanted to give the audience the experience of being a crazy-rich Asian for one evening,” shared Wok ‘n’ Stroll founder and CEO Karni Tomer.

For hospitality giant AccorHotels, Singapore’s burgeoning identity as a culinary destination has become an opportunity to enhance the group’s F&B strategy. Amir Nahai, CEO food & beverage and lifestyle, AccorHotels, said: “Our F&B (offer) was not where it needed to be. There were a lot of opportunities to improve it for our guests. We’ve embarked on a big transformation,” he said.

Part of this transformation was the acquisition of hotel groups such as Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel over the past three years, which has brought AccorHotels “an element of luxury to its F&B”, said Nigel Moore, director of F&B, Fairmont Singapore & Swissôtel The Stamford.

He added: “What we’ve set out to do is position our restaurants as standalone restaurants. In the past, hotel restaurants had bad lighting, bad drinks and unsociable spaces, where you only went because you were a hotel guest and didn’t know where else to go.

“Now, in our luxury (properties), we don’t cookie-cut. So you won’t find the same restaurant in a Fairmont in Mumbai as in Singapore or New York. People come to our restaurants because they like the atmosphere and the food.”

Exemplary of this is the highly anticipated reopening of Raffles Hotel Singapore next year, which will launch 10 culinary spaces, including four new concepts BBR by Alain Ducasse, La Dame de Pic by three Michelin star chef Anne-Sophie Pic, yì by Singapore MasterChef Jereme Leung and Butcher’s Block.

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