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Food, Singapore

Pop-ups that spin a yarn

The Business Times | Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014

Three new pop-up dinner series events in town aim to pair vivid story-telling with dishes specially crafted to fit the theme. Debbie Yong and Georgine Verano get behind the plot.

They've helped corporate diners and private hosts put together dinner with a tale for the past three years. Now, Crystal Chua and Stephan Zoisl of private dining outfit My Private Chef want to tell some stories of their own too. In June, they will launch Stories, a series of theatrical pop-up dinners based on historical events and iconic sites in Singapore.

"Stories combines my love for food and my interest in local monuments and history - and conveying them through fine food and wine," says Ms Chua, 39.

At their first dinner to be held on June 26-29 at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, up to 180 diners will be regaled with retellings of the building's illustrious past while seated for a five-course fine-dining meal.

The Fat Duck-trained Zoisl, 33, was previously executive chef of modern European restaurant Novus, and he will send out edible creations crafted to the theme, such as wedges of cod coated in squid ink to resemble the coal pieces prevalent in the station during its heyday.

Spoilt by a penchant for travel, global media exposure and a never-ending onslaught of great restaurants in Singapore, local diners have become a difficult bunch to impress, Ms Chua admits. Hence, a story-based theatrical dining experience would help satiate adventurous diners seeking the unusual. "Our Singapore story may not go back thousands of years like China or Europe, but I would still love to celebrate whatever we have. Few nations can achieve what we have in the last 50 years with what we've got," she says.

Stories is also one of the events to benefit from the Singapore Tourism Board's Kickstart Fund, a $5 million pot launched last June to develop new lifestyle events and concepts with tourism potential.

Though the first two chapters of the pop-up dinner series will be set in national monuments key to the history of Singapore, Stories could eventually grow to work in other narratives around iconic events or history that interest diners here. Other Singapore-based chefs will also be roped in for future meals, though "they must not only be creative, but must live or have lived in Singapore long enough to appreciate Singapore heritage and food culture", she says.

The venue for Stories' second instalment in November will be announced in July, while details for future chapters are still being penned.

The first set of dinners for Stories will run on June 26-29 at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Tickets are priced at $188-$248 and daily dinners seat 180 while weekend lunches accommodate 120 diners each. Tickets can be purchased on www.myprivatechef.com.sg from May 1, 2014. Advanced reservations can be made at dine@myprivatechef.com.sg


Servings of surprise and mystery

The Hideaway

Surprise menu? Been there, done that. How about a surprise menu and a mystery venue, all tied in by an interactive storyline that unfolds over a fine-dining meal.

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