Hawker Tan Sai Heng only gets one day off a week on Tuesdays, but he has returned to his Bib Gourmand stall, Heng Carrot Cake, in Newton Hawker Centre this Tuesday to fry up 80 packets of his popular black and white chai tow kway.
A little further across town, French chef Julien Royer of the three-MICHELIN-star Odette has been busy with the restaurant's Odette At Home takeaway service during Singapore's Circuit Breaker period. Yet he and his team have deliberately set aside time to craft an off-menu special: meal boxes of roasted chicken thigh in the restaurant’s signature Vadouvan spice mix and baby carrots and broccoli on Niigata rice, paired with a caramelised apple and cinnamon tart for dessert.
The recipients of their efforts: low-income families, the elderly and the less fortunate across Singapore.
Tan and Royer, together with chefs from other eateries recognised in the MICHELIN Guide Singapore, are part of a community effort organised by Michelin Singapore to provide nourishing meals to The Food Bank Singapore’s member beneficiaries.
Initiated in part for Michelin to show its support and appreciation towards MICHELIN-recommended restaurants and eateries, the week-long campaign from 18 to 24 May 2020 rallied a total of 20 establishments including MICHELIN-star, Bib Gourmand and MICHELIN Plate-recognised restaurants to send out more than 2,000 meal boxes during lunch and dinner to those in need.
"Our business was reduced by 30 to 40 per cent but we are fortunate that we are still earning a bit during the Circuit Breaker compared to those who have zero income, so we think that we should do our part and help out with the community," Tan says.
“Food is essential in all our lives. As a chef, it has always been our job and duty to take care of people and inspire joy through food and hospitality,” says Royer. “There are many among us in the community who have been affected, and the Odette team and I wish to do our part to help those in need. We hope that through this initiative we may demonstrate love and provide comfort and a sense of food security to these members of our community.”
The initiative has grown to include previous MICHELIN-recommended restaurants Char and New Ubin Seafood, as well as one-MICHELIN-star Burnt Ends’ sister joint Meatsmith, all who are voluntarily taking part.
“Even as restaurants and dining establishments have been hard hit by measures intended to curb the transmission of Covid-19, their sense of compassion, hospitality and service to feed the community have never wavered,” says Chan Hock Sen, Country Head of Michelin Singapore. “They have been the first to volunteer their resources towards the most vulnerable in society, and we are proud to join them in contributing towards those efforts while also supporting them in turn.”
Co-founder of the Food Bank Singapore, Nicholas Ng ,notes that while the charity organisation is trying its best to feed those in need, the demand for meals is outstripping supply. “An increasing number of people who have lost their regular income stream due to the Covid-19 pandemic are struggling to put food on their tables,” he says. “We are warmed and grateful that Michelin and the renowned restaurants are contributing to our efforts. May they inspire more like-minded organisations to come forth to help ensure that nobody goes hungry in Singapore.”
Reflecting on the food community’s various efforts to give back during the Covid-19 crisis, Royer adds: “The circumstances may be challenging but we must remain united and continue to look out for each other, especially those who have been hardest hit. It’s been heart-warming to see our community rally together and I hope that all of us can continue to show our love, support and solidarity in all the ways we can – big and small.”