Sorry, I just had to start off this post with that. C’mon, you would too.

The story goes something like this. Last Sunday afternoon I made my way down to Newton Food Center for the cook-off of the year courtesy of Singtel x Ogilvy: Gordon Ramsay vs the singapore Hawker Heroes. Ever since getting MIO Tv last year I’ve breezed through seasons of hell’s kitchen and ramsay yelling THIS STEAK IS BURNT SO BLACK A KARDASHIAN WANTS TO MARRY IT. Lovely. Naturally, when I received the media invitation for this I was all hell to the yes please.

They were pretty tight with the invitation list this time so I didn’t get a plus one, so I basically hung out with Ee Khim from Cosmopolitan Singapore the whole night. She writes the Sex and the Single Girl column (i think), so check it out if you have the time!

First up I have to say I am so glad I didn’t wear heels. The entire thing was insane, there were over five thousand people there apparently all jostling to get a slice of Ramsay. So used to hearing him cuss at cooks I was incredibly surprised at how gracious this man was in real life- and so charming, I swear, all the girls there were swooning. I asked him for a photo and security was like no but he went oh come on and gestured me over, gave me a hug, then took a photo with me.

Gordon Ramsay hugged me.

In that moment I swear I was just going: ok my job here is done. Is this man married? Do marriage statuses extend past international boundaries? I kid (i think), but my point is, he is so, so nice. It’s disconcerting.

But I’m not here to ramble about my schoolgirl crushes. For those of you who don’t know, the hawker heroes challenge is the result of recent debates about hawker food not receiving international recognition, such as Michelin-starred accreditation. The challenge also stems from the public’s concerns about the decline in, and preservation of, Singapore hawker culture. (paraphrasing hungrygowhere) So a bunch of food bloggers essentially challenged Ramsay to come learn and have a cookoff with our local hawkers, and everyone in singapore went batshit crazy when he accepted. Apparently people have been stalking him everywhere from the minute he touched down in singapore, which must be incredibly gratifying and frustrating at the same time.

Anyway, Ramsay spent a couple of days with the local hawkers learning from them and both ends prepared their own food for public and media sampling and voting. When we were doing this I couldnt help but feel like it was a soccer match, but the food edition- foreign teams coming and playing a match with us on our home ground. Check it out:

The three dishes were (in case they weren’t evident from the photos): Chicken Rice, Chilli Crab and Laksa.

To be completely honest, I must be a pretty shite food critic because Singapore disagreed with me totally. I loved Ramsay’s Laksa and Chicken Rice (sorry, sg) but thought Singapore did the chilli crab better. Singapore, as you guys know, voted the exact opposite. It doesnt matter though, because at the end of the day my takeaway from all this is WHAT UP GUYS I’VE TRIED GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD BEFORE, WHAT, UP. I’m not even kidding.

I love it though, that singapore’s hawkers did us proud. Singaporeans obviously have a lot of local pride when it comes to their food (see handmade sign in above photos). I personally think it’s slightly embarrassing that we lost for chilli crab because it’s a local signature dish, but hey, chicken rice and laksa are great too. Ramsay was absolutely gracious accepting his losses and wins, it was lovely to watch.

On the media’s end, I think it was a hugely ambitious and very smart marketing move by singtel, the organizer of this entire thing, because the media and online coverage was huge. I shudder to think of their budget for this campaign from start to end. If you’re measuring a campaign’s success by the number of people its got talking and buzzing, then they’ve nailed it down pat. The agency they engaged to plan and execute this was (no surprises here) Ogilvy Singapore, which has been continually proving itself one of the best agencies around for large scale branding campaigns, and i’m saying this from experience.

All in all a crazy memorable night because in addition to being a pretty watershed moment in local food history, hello, gordon ramsay only hugged me no big deal what’s up y’all. Wow I couldnt even pull off that line convincingly. WHAT A NIGHT. Thank you so much to singtel and ogilvy for the invitation, memories, and bragging rights, took a selfie with gordon ramsay is going right up on my resume, circa 2013.

*all photos in post taken by the Sony Nex 5r c/o sony singapore!