Poly students explore future of hawker food in The Singapore Heritage Cookbook: Past, Present, Future
Nanyang Polytechnic students reinterpret local classics in new cookbook
Ever wondered what satay may look like 50 years from now?
For Mr Mohamed Noorhadi Habib Mohameed, it is lamb flap garnished with cucumber rolls and pineapple relish, served with peanut sauce in a test tube.
The Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) graduate, 20, cooked his interpretation of the local favourite for the launch of The Singapore Heritage Cookbook: Past, Present, Future, which took place yesterday at the L'Rez restaurant in NYP.
Written in celebration of SG50 and commissioned by NYP, the 240-page book authored by Marina Mandarin Singapore's executive chef Tony Khoo and food blogger Dr Leslie Tay, features original recipes and reinterpretations of 12 popular hawker dishes, including fried carrot cake and Hainanese chicken rice.
Mr Mohamed Noorhadi and his coursemate from the food and beverage business programme, Miss Celine Lee, 20, contributed a total of six recipes to the cookbook.
Coming up with unique recipes and perfecting them was no easy feat, said Mr Mohamed Noorhadi.
"It was a lot of trial and error. I remember staying up till 2am once to perfect the marinade for the satay.
"It involved a lot of precision too. For example, the pineapple cubes took me a long time to cut.
"I had to make sure every cube was perfect so that my lamb flap would look good on the plate."
But Mr Mohamed Noorhadi's love for cooking helped him overcome the obstacles.
"During Hari Raya, my grandma and parents would whip up a feast and I often wished I could cook like them. That was how my passion for cooking started," he said.
He was also inspired by his six-month internship at Jamie's Italian restaurant, the brainchild of renowned UK chef Jamie Oliver.
"I watched a lot of his cooking videos and (that made me want) to be a cool chef like him," said Mr Mohamed Noorhadi, who aspires to open his own restaurant or cafe one day.
He and Miss Lee were hand-picked by NYP lecturers to work on the cookbook after they showed creativity during the school's practical examinations.
The project took a total of six months.
Miss Lee, whose reinterpretation of Hokkien mee, bak chor mee and fried carrot cake made it into the cookbook, said: "It is a huge honour to work with these top chefs. It wasn't easy coming up with ideas at first.
"But thankfully, the chefs mentored us and helped in the brainstorming process. The exchange of ideas and help made the project a little easier for me."
Chef Khoo said he was proud of the students.
"First, we made sure that they mastered the basic cooking techniques. Then we explained to them how certain ingredients were more suitable for certain cooking techniques. We also taught them plating so that their dishes would look more appetising," he said.
Miss Lee said that the cookbook was meaningful to her.
"By creating these reinterpretations, I hope we can make traditional hawker fare more interesting and relevant to future Singaporeans, especially in this age when the hawker trade is dying," she said.
NYP and the authors are still considering commercialising the cookbook.
It was a lot of trial and error. I remember staying up till 2am once to perfect the marinade for the satay.
- Mr Mohamed Noorhadi Habib Mohameed on getting his interpretation of satay right