Singapore’s Year: 2016

There was a lot of brouhaha over 2015 in Singapore; a Silver Jubilee, much partying, many public holidays. I feel like the real year for Singapore is going to be 2016 though. As this great city-state further comes into its own, the entrepreneurs and movers and shakers are increasingly landing here to see what all the fuss is about, and more importantly, how they can be a part of it.

With my pro-Singapore hat on I see opportunities, particularly in the F&B sector but also in tech and other creative industries. The melting pot that is this small island has so many willing participants, people born here who appreciate how far they’ve come in such a short time, and people who see the opportunity to learn and create markets and opportunities. Of course there are the pessimists, but that is the case anywhere, as this quote sums up nicely, “Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.” Touché.

On the F&B side we of course await the arrival of the big fat tyre man, Michelin. I’m a little scared about this but, as an optimist, I see that there are many potential positives. Lifting the game in the service side of F&B for one, perhaps putting a focus on scouting and retaining excellent staff, making it worth their while to put some effort in and be rewarded fairly for that effort. No doubt there’ll also be an increase in the fancy food that so often leaves me wanting, but if Odette’s recent opening reviews are anything to go by, then maybe we’re in for a wonderful surprise of truly world class restaurants.

Speaking of Odette, the opening of the National Gallery in itself is a huge step in the right direction. A good friend of mine, a very well travelled American woman, remarked that walking into the gallery felt a little bit like walking into the Met in New York. And why shouldn’t it? This world class city has all the potential to be a leader, not only in the region but further afield. The gallery houses six restaurants, and although I’ve only been to two so far, the venue in itself is nothing short of fabulous. The view from the Aura Sky Lounge (top) is one of those Singapore views that really makes you go wow! And the inclusion of the National Kitchen by Violet Oon in the F&B repertoire is also the perfect opportunity to showcase Peranakan roots alongside a smart, art deco room befitting of a time gone by. I’ve written you a full review of Violet Oon’s here if you’d like to read more.

Other positives I see are the start ups in the F&B sector, we’ve seen Deliveroo arrive here, and now startups like FeastBump are seeing if local knowledge can compete with international experience. The Impact Hub, a co-working space where I spend much of my week, has had an influx of interesting F&B related start ups. We have Jonathan who has created the Hawker app, an app that is bringing our obsession with home delivery into the hawker world. You want Char Kway Teow delivered to your door? Why not? It seems that savvy consumers are actually willing to pay a little more for convenience, instead of whining about a 50 cent increase at their local hawker stall.

I’ve also met Vlad at the Hub, a Romanian whose Zacusca recipe is wowing the audiences at public markets throughout the city, which incidentally are also on the rise. Vlad will be at the Open Farm Community market this weekend if you want to try his yummy Zacusca, or you can buy directly from his online shop here.

Giuseppe, an Italian from a small town in Sicily, is making real Italian bread and foccacia in Singapore. Now for anyone who’s ever been looking for proper bread, you’ll know how hard it is to find. Giuseppe’s bread is hearty, fresh and comes in all sorts of exciting flavours. He makes it from real Italian yeast culture that’s been brewing for over 50 years! You can read more on his website http://otiveil.com.

Anna, another Hub member, recently launched her independent Bali guidebook. Move over Lonely Planet, this book of hand picked, personally experienced, unique and stylish places to eat, drink, stay and see, all over Bali, delights both visually and experientially. I gave several copies away as gifts over Christmas, much better than something ‘curated’ by a bunch of editors unknown to me.

There’s also Steve who created A Better Florist, he’s going great guns with his simple approach to flower delivery that is a fraction of the cost you pay through any other outlet ($60 for a bouquet). And he’s been written up by Forbes no less!!

And for something truly courageous and ground breaking, check out Shiok Farm. This member only farm is taking subscriptions until 8th January. I’m about to sign up for six months for $30 a week to receive a veg and fruit box with local, organic produce. If you want to know more please Whatsapp the team on +65 9100 2711 or contact claire@shiokfarm.com.

For a visual feast check out this Aussie duo’s uber cool online art gallery, Addicted Gallery. These two art enthusiasts have been collecting for around 15 years, but theirs is no stuffy art collection. No, no, no, the range is as diverse as the tastes of this couple with a great eye for detail. From street art to traditional Chinese artworks, check out the highly curated range of work where you will definitely find something that catches your eye.

I hope this article doesn’t come across as an advertorial, it in no way is. The products, services and people mentioned don’t even know I’m writing about them. I’m writing because these are great people doing great things in a great place!! And I know it’s not all roses in Singapore (ha ha, get it?), there are plenty of issues I have with the way some things work, or don’t work, as the case may be, but overall it’s pretty darn good.

Tell us about the things you’re looking forward to in 2016!!

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