Saturday, 23 September 2023

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The Olympics and how Singapore can promote itself

By Ghui

The whole of London is abuzz with activity. As the 2012 Olympic Games goes underway, the city gears itself up for a promotional overdrive. The finest of London is touted with unabashed pride. The London Media Centre, which was set up to support the global media in its coverage of the Olympics has gone one step further. Instead of just providing journalists with a hub for the Games, it has made the whole of London its focal point. Beyond coverage of the Olympics, the global media is invited to savour and experience the best of London through a series of events organised by a multitude of participants. The London Media Centre markets these events and the international media sign up for the various events that interest them.

As part of the London Media Centre initiative, I was invited to attend Global Feast 2012. Global Feast offers a journey through the best of world food, enwrapped by Worldscape – the tallest table in the world, made from its contours and designed by atmos. Each night of the Olympics, up to 80 diners will sit around this marvellous table to sample a different type of cuisine. On the night that I went, Singapore was proudly representing in the best way it knows how – FOOD!

As diners of various nationalities who have descended on London to cover the Games set down to dine on a table, made to the specifications of a world map (complete with the Himalayas and the Mariana Trench), Singaporean fare was served to perfection.

With the backdrop of Usain Bolt running the 100 metre finals, diners savoured the mouth-watering delights of chicken rice, century egg tofu and an assortment of kuehs, lovingly prepared by Goz of the Plusixfive Supper Club and J of @Feasttotheworld. So while Singapore may not have that many athletes competing in the Games, we were more than represented through the medium of food!

While sports have the power to bring glory to a country, one cannot underestimate the sheer advertising potential of food. Although Singapore may not as yet have international sporting prowess, we have certainly made our global mark through our delectable delicacies. This was made clear to me when I had a chance to dine at Quince, a beautiful restaurant set in the luxurious and elegant May Fair Hotel. The food was of course exceptional but what struck a chord with me was the fact that a dish which was no doubt influenced by Singaporean cuisine, made the cut on the special tasting menu! Among the fillet steaks and grilled lamb, there were prawns in coconut and lemongrass laksa!

As I toured the hotel’s newly opened Cigar Room, I had plenty of food (pun intended) for thought. Despite being a small and relatively new nation, Singapore has indeed made a mark on the international map. Can we do even more to ensure that it maintains its mark and deepen its standing?

Another noteworthy visit was to an “open house” hosted by Onefinestay. Onefinestay aims to redefine the experience of city travel by ensuring that its guests live like locals by staying in a distinctive home while the owner is out of town. At the same time, it offers all the convenience, amenities and comfort of a 5 star hotel. Every guest is also lent an iPhone for the duration of their stay, which is stocked with local tips from the home’s owner and from which they can make free local calls. While I marvelled at this unique idea, I wonder if Singapore has missed an opportunity at the YOG. The London Olympics provided a platform for Londoners to showcase the best of London, which ranged from fashion, property, hospitality, cuisine, and culture to entertainment. In our quest to ensure the perfect logistics for the YOG, did we miss out on a chance to truly promote Singapore?

Singapore is certainly a country that has its allures and good ideas. Food (as described above) is but one of them. The next time, Singapore holds an event of an international nature, perhaps we too could organise something along the lines of the London Media Centre to showcase the best of Singapore.

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