The Scoop: Haute hot dogs, Obama's street food sojourn, and food safety issues in Singapore

Your weekly round-up of headline-making food news in Singapore and beyond
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In this week's round-up: Jean-Georges Vongerichten dishes out gourmet dogs; the American President takes time off to enjoy street eats in Hanoi; and food safety issues disrupt local eateries

Jean-Georges takes to the streets

Join Jean-Georges this Thursday from noon to 2PM to taste his new organic hotdogs, coming to The Mark Hotel just in time for summer.

A photo posted by The Mark Hotel (@themarkhotelny) on

He runs a culinary empire spanning 31 establishments worldwide, and his eponymous flagship restaurant in Manhattan has three Michelin stars, but illustrious chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s next new venture is... serving up hot dogs on a New York sidewalk.
A long-time advocate of street food, Chef Vongerichten has previously paired up comfort foods such as pizza and baked potatoes with truffles and caviar, and his The Mark Hotdog gourmet snack stand is no different. Parked outside US$650-a-night The Mark Hotel on Madison Avenue, the stand serves US$6 organic chicken dogs with an assortment of condiments concocted by Chef Vongerichten himself, including his renowned kimchi relish.
“It’s a New York City street food staple, and it’s practical,” he told New York food media last week. His hot dog pushcart stand will remain stationed outside the hotel through September. Chef Vongerichten is also expected to open a fine-dining restaurant in the upcoming Como Dempsey cluster in Singapore by year-end.

Pork belly for the POTUS

The President's chopstick skills are on point . #buncha #hanoi

A photo posted by anthonybourdain (@anthonybourdain) on

Proving that the allure of street food is too great for even the President of the United States to resist, Barack Obama was spotted earlier this week rolling up his sleeves to chow down on bun cha, a famous Vietnamese dish of grilled pork belly and rice noodles, in a hole-in-the-wall eatery in Hanoi. Accompanying him was TV celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, who was filming their dinner as part of an episode for the eighth season of his CNN show, Parts Unknown.
Unsurprisingly, the reaction from the locals was one of immense surprise and excitement, with some even greeting Bourdain the following day with tears from the shock and pride of encountering the American president. On the Internet, netizens sung praises of Mr Obama for his willingness to sit down at a humble establishment to taste the local cuisine.

Food safety takes the spotlight

Pek Kio Market and Food Centre. Photo: NEA
Pek Kio Market and Food Centre. Photo: NEA
It has been a touchy week for food safety in Singapore. Barely days after the National Environment Agency (NEA) decided to lift its suspension on Goodwood Park Hotel’s bakery kitchen, a mysterious spread of gastroenteritis took hold in the Owen Road neighbourhood, leading to a two-day closure of Pek Kio Market and Food Centre over Wednesday and Thursday last week (May 24 to 25).
More than 180 patients sought medical treatment in the area’s clinics for gastroenteritis symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pain in the past week, prompting the health authorities to close the popular food centre for pest control checks and disinfection works as a precautionary measure.
Investigation into the source of the outbreak is still ongoing, but the food centre reopened on Friday to slower-than-usual business. Tenants were offered rental remissions and service and conservancy charge waivers to help alleviate the business disruption in the interest of public health.
Earlier in the month, 183 people came down with food poisoning between March and April, which were traced to the consumption of durian pastries prepared by Goodwood Park Hotel. The NEA subsequently suspended the hotel’s bakery, after samples of durian pastries tested positive for the presence of E.coli and Salmonella and two food handlers from the durian pastry kitchen tested positive for Norovirus, but the bakery’s has adequately rectified its food handling lapses and is in the clear to resume production, said the NEA, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) in a joint statement last week.
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