Like a lucky Dream
by
Jochen Kern

Singapore 1971-1972

THE SINGAPORE CHAPTER

I arrived in Singapore with the Dutch Carrier, KLM, on 27th November 1971.

News traveled around the plane that a big fire had broken out in one of the huge buildings in Singapore. This increased my heartbeat as I thought it would be the one thousand rooms Hyatt Hotel, my new place of work. Lucky for me, but sadly for others, it turned out to be the Robinson Department Store.

I was picked up at the airport by my new executive chef, Mr.Weinreich. After arriving and checking into the hotel, he showed me around this huge hotel with its equally large lobby and fantastic chandelier. This chandelier had broken records worldwide due to its size. The city was a real pearl, Singapore was really "Asia" that time and exciting. I was off duty on my first day in Singapore and started work only on the following day. My Sous Chef, Helmut Walter and "Hugos" Chef, Wolfgang Pelzer took me around; to exotic Chinese markets, Tiger Balm Garden with its perverse display of Asian mentality, People’s Park Shipping Complex, Barbarella Club, Tivoli, Pink Pussycat and so on.

http://singapore.grand.hyatt.com/

My position in the Singapore Hyatt Hotel was a Chef Gardemanger, head of the Cold Kitchen with a thirty-five man brigade. The banquet facilities were the largest in Singapore. At that time, the function food was mainly cold buffets form my kitchen. From November till February, I had no more off days because each day there were between 800 to 2,000 pax attending the buffets for the festive season.


Jimmy, HongKong Chef , Henry and myself
at Gardemanger section

I started work a little confused at first but after two days there were no more problems. My crew comprised of  26 Chefs at Gardemaner inclding Tom, Henry, Meng, Monkey, Simon, Daniel and etc.... They were all willing to learn, above average and was on able to adapt to my style. We produced salads and cold platters in the morning, butter and ice carvings which I had already learned on board the ship. Besides, we also had to produce the cold dishes for the normal A La Carte Restaurants which included "The Spice Islander", "Hugos", "Bowling Alley", "Pool Snack Bar" and "The Coffee House." and latest joined by Pete's Place down under the Lobby.

A really superb and interesting job. Then, came this huge man called Baloni from Canada. He was a Sous Chef from Germany who call me up every night at midnight and asked me to be his dinner companion. We had hamburger with peanut sauce at the Coffee House and chef’s beer in a tea pot ( no Ber permission serving beer after midnight ). But what he actually needed was company to go to Boogie Street - Singapore’s famous night spot with its fantastic food, vendors, and Billy boys ( lady dressed male) - some who even looked sexier than a woman.

The merry-making continued up to the Morning Market open same place. Live shows, of burning newspapers stacked up the backside of a Kiwi (New Zealander) for betting purpose agains time he could stand the heat on the public toilet roof, fortune tellers and there were all types of tourists, both men and women who experience exiting nights here. This Buggi Streat was where Baloni found himself a lovely 200 kilogram Billy-boy whom he fancied and nearly financielle helped sex changed. Luckily, his wife came a few months later, (not much smaller...) and got Baloni in control.

This eventually made jumping around at night-time come to an abrupt end. We were only able to enjoy the beer which he stole from the Chef’s Office by means of carrying it out under his chef’s toque. He made uncountable working rounds which included dropping the beer at his house in Jalan Jintan, situated directly behind the Hyatt Hotel.

The time then came when I had enough of my daily routine night life and the feeling for a steady girlfriend was increasing.

I met Dolly, a beautiful Singaporean, who changed my life style drastically. Love, engagement, sightseeing throughout Singapore and Malaysia, dinner at the carpark, parties on Hilton’s roof-top, Mayers Beach on off days and tae-kwon-do school training in the morning 6-7 am.

Good healthy life under a stable cover.


Bali Hyatt’s food and beverage manager, Arthur Holliger, strolled into the kitchen and called for help only to discover that after the opening, Bali Hyatt Hotel had lost its expatriate kitchen crew to a pacific hotelier immediately.

Who wants to come to Bali? Sous Chef, single and immediately - I do!

The newly appointed Executive Chef, George Knecht, who was also new to this position and a little overvoiced in his new kitchen, agreed that I could leave.

 

The local Recipe

A RECIPE FROM A THREE DAY VISIT TO A KELONG, A FISHING HOUSE BUILT ON TIMBER BEAMS OUT IN THE OPEN SEA. HERE, THE TIDES ARE USED FOR FISHING AND EVERY THREE HOURS, FRESH CRABS AND SEAFOOD ARE CAUGHT.

FRESH AND SPICY LIKE ASIA

SINGAPORE CHILLI CRAB

TAKE A LIVE CRAB AND BREAK OFF ITS SHORT TAIL WHICH LIES FOLDED UNDERTHE CRAB. SEPARATE THE SHELL FROM THE BODY BY PUTTING A FINGER THROUGH THE OPEN TAIL HOLE AND PULLING. THIS ENABLES THE TOP SHELL TO BE REMOVED. NEXT, REMOVE THE GILLS WHICH CIRCLE THE TOP BODY. BREAK OFF THE CRAB’S MOUTH WITH ITS SHARB TEETH AND CLEAVER TO BREAK ITS POWERFUL CLAWS, CUT OFF THE SHARP ARM ENDS AND CUT ITS BODY UP LIKE PIECES OF A CAKE. HEAT UP OIL IN A CHINESE WOK, THEN ADD CRAB, GARLIC, ONIONS, SLICED RED CHILLIES, CUBES OF TOMATO, SALT, SUGAR, TOMATO KETCHUP, CHILLI SAUCE AND A LITTLE WATER. COVER WOK FOR 3 MINUTES. ADD IN RAW BEATEN EGG AND FOLD. FINALLY, SPRINKLE WITH FRESH CORIANDER LEAVES AND EAT WHITE RICE.

Not only catch is an art ….also eating, like here by Charlie at the boogie street, needs skill !!!

 

 

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