A game of two (foodie) halves

What happens when you challenge a hawker from downtown Singapore to craft a totally unique dish with one of Auckland’s famed fine dining restauranteurs? Magic happens, that’s what: Tiger Beer brought two culinary geniuses together to create an unexpected take on the two cuisines.

Enter Hawker Chan Hong Meng of Singapore’s Soya Chicken Noodle, and Nick Honeyman of Paris Butter in Auckland. Tasked with collaborating from different sides of the planet, in different languages, Remix spoke to the chefs on what it took to create the Riz Au Lait with Asian flavoured Butternut served to diverse mix of people representing different creative genres and street culture at a VIP Tiger STREATS event in Auckland last week.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. We loved the Oriental Rice Pudding dish you collaborated on for the Tiger STREATS stand. How did you work together to develop the flavours and style of this dish?

NICK: We tried to communicate with our two different cooking styles and find some middle ground and go from there. The key ingredients we wanted to work with informed how the dish played out.  

CHAN: We wanted to work together to match Tiger beer with flavours and ingredients at the core of the two culinary styles.

Talk us through the flavours of the dish?

NICK: I guess it’s a traditional rice pudding so it’s quite rich and hearty, which is quite French, but Hawker Chan added component of butternut which is a very Asian-style, sweet flavour. Together they work really well.

What was your favourite part of making the Oriental Rice Pudding?

NICK: Creating this dish took me back to my childhood! There are a few classic techniques involved in making the rice pudding, like crème pâtissière.

CHAN: My favourite part was being able to come to New Zealand and source fresh ingredients that I hadn’t worked with before. It required a lot of improvising, I had to make up a lot of things as I went along, but in the end I feel incredibly satisfied with the finished product.

How did you first discover the art of cooking and decide to make this your career?

CHAN: I knew how to cook by the time I was 15, as cooking was something I was taught while growing up. I was a chef by the time I turned 20, and began to develop my own style of cooking and figured out what my strengths were. In 2009, I took the plunge and opened my own hawker stall to sell my famous Soy Chicken Rice. The dish is so popular there are often three-hour queues to get their hands on it!

What flavours do you love working with most?

NICK: I like to use lots of zest to help balance out richness, also olive oil is one of my go-tos and I put it on just about everything.

CHAN: My favourite ingredients are soya sauce, spices, green vegetables, chicken, and of course, noodles!

Although the Noodle Markets have wrapped up in Aotearoa, Tiger STREATS continues its tour to New York and Kuala Lumpur next.

Head here for more.