Hola! I have just returned from a jam-packed week in Madrid, Spain. My colleagues and I were there to organize a super-cool culinary event that was also used as the launch pad for a whole series of even cooler food initiatives.
The event was titled A Night in Singapore and was the opening event (the welcome cocktail) for this year’s Madrid Fusion. Madrid Fusion, now in its 9th year, is quite simply one of the world’s most important culinary conferences, attended each year by 500 or so of the planet’s most talented chefs, restaurateurs, and food media.
Each year, there is a featured foreign country. Last year it was Australia. This year it was Singapore, represented by 3 of our most talented chefs, one amazing mixologist and a quick-talking street food evangelist.
Madrid Fusion’s timing and its choice of Singapore as featured country was serendipitous. For the last year, my agency has been helping the Singapore Tourism Board, ieSingapore, and SPRING create a campaign that would help promote the changing face of our gastronomic scene to the world. This campaign would promote our best food brands–from people to products to concepts and even books–to the world’s foodies, media and trade. It was decided that Madrid Fusion would the perfect opportunity to launch this campaign.
And so, on Monday, 24 January 2011, we threw what I can only describe as one of the coolest parties I have either been to and/or helped organize (up there with an all-night rager I threw in a palazzo on the Grand Canal durng the Venice Biennale in 2005 and a grand ball I attended at Chateau de Versailles in 1999, hosted by Veuve Clicquot). We transformed the fourth floor of the historic Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid into a super-modern tapas bar. Around the circular ballroom, we set up large, tall screens that enveloped the room. On these, we screened 360 degree scenes of Singapore, shot in a range of settings, from high-end restaurants to food courts and markets. This effect visually transported guests to Singapore, giving them a real taste of what life on our island is like.
In the middle of the room, we built a huge, square, black tapas bar. The front was manned by superstar mixologist Matthew Bax. The other sides and back were taken over by our guest chefs–Chef Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre, Chef Kevin Cherkas of Blu, Chef Ryan Clift of Tippling Club, and Chef Janice Wong of 2am:dessertbar. Matthew’s name was etched out in white light on the front of the bar. For the other chefs, a tall black wall divided the prep area within the square bar area. Each chef’s name was also etched out in white light, high up onto a separate corner of the black wall. The snacks each chef made were amazing. Modern, inspiring and ridiculously tasty.
Equally amazing was the turnout. While the party was to begin at 9pm, guests started arriving at 815pm. Ferran Adria, God among chefs, showed up around 840pm and made his rounds, tasting all the dishes and saying hi to all of the Singaporean chefs who had worked so hard on making this party truly memorable. Most of Spain’s culinary luminaries were in attendance, from Juan Mari Arzak to star-of-the-moment David Munoz. International foodie celebrities also came out to enjoy the food and drink, including Tim and Nina Zagat, Jeffrey Steingarten, and Joanna Savill.
An hour into the party, the Singapore Tourism Board’s Chief Executive, Ms Aw Kah Peng, premiered a short video on Singapore’s dining scene (directed by Grace Phan) and then announced the launch of the Singapore International Culinary Exchange (or SPICE for short). For more info on SPICE, you can visit this page on the Singapore Eats facebook site. Since the notes on the Singapore Eats page are pretty detailed, I won’t go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say, we’ll be rolling out a whole slew of really exciting foodie events and programmes that I hope some of you get the chance to see and take part in.
Well, we’re all back now. Our events team did an amazing job. But there’s no time to rest. Not only do we have other events for other clients, there is the whole rest of the SPICE campaign to plan and execute.
P.S. One of the great guys that worked on our event has posted an amazing video on You Tube that showcases how we set up the event venue in Ciculo de Bellas Artes, and the event itself, in timelapse of course. Watch it. It’s very cool!
All photos courtesy of the Singapore International Culinary Exchange.