Monday, March 12, 2018

Belirub : the Cordon Bleu hawker

Vincent Terence Tan, 58, the owner, his stall was featured in the latest series of "Buzzing Hawker" just recently under the mentorship of chef Petrina Loh from Morsels. He was a Software Engineer stationed in Houston, Texas before deciding to spend USD $100,000 to pursue a degree at the Le Cordon Bleu at the age of 40. He started working as a chef in some hotels when he came back from the States in 2008. And he started this hawker stall thereafter but this journey has been a hard dream so far. 

I was there at about 2.15 pm on a Sunday and there was a short queue at the stall. Vincent was there all alone. He has to handle everything, from taking orders, answering queries, cooking and serving it. He used to sell in between 15 to 20 plates for an average day before participating in the "Buzzing Hawker" programme. And, he did not earn enough to pay for the operating costs and he eventually run out of funds.

He greeted me with a smile when he finally noticed me. I said, "Hi, Vincent."  I pointed to the picture of Chincalok Wooster Grilled Chicken on the signboard and said, "I like to order this and also the Maryland Chicken." He said, "I am quite busy now. Would you mind to come back a little later?" I asked, "What time should I come back then?" He replied, "Maybe 20 minutes or maybe 30 minutes would be better." He was quite soft spoken and I did not quite get what he said. I went back close to 3.00 pm and there were still some customers waiting for their orders. When he saw me seated at the table in front of his stall, he said, "Next will be your orders, the last ones." He off the light of his signboard right after that.

I asked, "Closing for the day?" He said, "I am very tired now." I asked, "The business is getting better?" Vincent replied, "Just slightly." He sighed a little. He said, "Now, I have to prepare 2 different types of coleslaw. I already have my type of coleslaw but I have to prepare a different one for the new recipe." I asked, "Would you be able to substitute it with your type of coleslaw?" He replied, "No. I don't think so." And, I asked, "Would they actually check on you?" He said, "Quite likely".

I pointed to the vacant stall directly opposite his stall and said, "Your direct competitor, The Spaghetti Shop, has already closed now?" He nodded and said, "I have been doing it for 5 years." I replied, "I have not heard about your stall so far. This is a quiet food centre in an equally quiet estate." He said, "Most of the customers are regulars and they are the ones that keep this stall going." While waiting for the orders to be ready, I counted the used plates that were placed in a plastic container beside his stall, there were about 20 plates in there. When I collected my orders, I said, "All the best." He smiled and said, "Thank you."

My dining companion ordered the Maryland Chicken, it consists 2 pieces of deep-fried breaded chicken cutlets, served with fries and a vegetable side that was supposed to be served hot but it was at room temperature. He said, "It tasted just like the usual chicken cutlets that are available at most Western food stalls." He enjoyed those chunks of carrots and bits of sweet corn with pieces of cauliflower drenched in a sauce. He said, "It tasted just like those cream soups and it is nice."

Chincalok Wooster Grilled Chicken is done using the new recipe created by chef Petrina Loh. The chicken is marinated in chincalok and Kea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce together with onion, garlic, and olive oil. The marinade is also used as the sauce to serve along with the chicken chop. In this instance, I could hardly taste the chincalok in it. The chicken chop did not have much flavor and the skin was torn a little, with a slightly burnt taste. I urged my dining companion to try and he shared the same opinion. We also thought that the chicken was quite a small piece thus not too fulling.

Turmeric is used as part of the seasoning for the coleslaw which I did not like it as much. Those turmeric infused shredded cabbages were not as crunchy and a little overpowering in taste. I just took a bite and left the rest unfinished. My dining companion felt that those baked potatoes were quite nice.

He is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef and he has the abilities to execute these dishes well but somehow it just did happen this time. He is a really nice chap nonetheless and he deserved a chance to do well at this stall. I might just go back after the hype dies down.

4A Jalan Batu #01-12 Jalan Batu Food Centre SINGAPORE 432004
Operating Hours: 11.45 am to 8.30 pm (Closed on Mondays)

No comments:

Post a Comment