This August, from the 12th to 14th, a three-day extravaganza of food and beverage – otherwise known as the Epicurean Market – takes place at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Now in its fourth year, the event witnesses the exciting debut of Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, a food phenomenon by John Kunkel which has charmed palates in Miami with innovative farm-to-table Southern comfort food.
For Sean Newman, Marina Bay Sands’ food and beverage executive director, this year’s Epicurean Market is his third consecutive time managing this culinary extravaganza – one which attracted over 15,000 guests last year. “What has been very interesting for our guests is the opportunity to witness celebrity chefs such as Daniel Boulud and Tetsuya Wakuda cooking live, and we are additionally offering some very rare wines and spirits to make it a real high-end experience for our guests."
Beyond the allure of Yardbird’s famous 27-hour brined and crispy fried chicken with waffles, the menu on offer includes the spectacular cuisine by Marina Bay Sands’ roster of celebrity chefs; Daniel Boulud, Nancy Silverton, David Myers, David Thompson, Justin Quek and Tetsuya Wakuda. Wakuda’s Waku Ghin, which experienced runaway success at Marina Bay Sands since opening day, has spawned the pastry-and-dessert spinoff Patisserie Platine, located at Rise Lounge late last year. “We want our customers to have a bespoke dining experience and leave the restaurants feeling like they have been immersed in a gourmet world of the freshest ingredients – from the region and beyond," Wakuda says.
In that same way, Wakuda’s masterclass – one of over 50 at the Epicurean Market – will focus on the creations of his signature dishes from both these outlets. The latter will revolve around intricate pastries and petite cakes, handcrafted to perfection. For him, the global trend of travelling for the sake of food has been hugely beneficial for Asia. “This increasingly well-travelled group of diners are prioritising food and have been exposed to various cultures around the world."
The Epicurean Market then – as the only South-east Asian stage for engagement in such a high level of cuisine – becomes doubly attractive for its ability to impart culinary wisdom. For instance, Wakuda’s favourite touch of employing quality olive oil in almost every dish at Waku Ghin has made it possible for his dishes to be perfectly paired with wine. “Even for some Japanese dishes, you might find that adding olive oil makes it work better with a wine pairing."
Another component of the Epicurean Market is the Farmers’ Market, which is augmented this year with Osteria Mozza and CUT, each of whom will create a pop-up stall. These stalls will feature in an expanded section offering fresh gourmet produce and artisanal products. Highlights include specialty cheeses, red-hued Sockeye salmon and Campari tomatoes, sourced from the Okanagan Valley Market in British Columbia, while the Lost Angeles Specialty Market offers Ojai Pixie tangerines, Vidalia Onions and Crenshaw melons.
Christopher Christie, Marina Bay Sands’ executive chef who oversees a staggering 43 individual kitchens, is no stranger to the mammoth undertaking of coordinating events such as the Epicurean Market. “Just catering for our team members means providing 7,000 meals every single day," he says, adding, “But the challenge of putting together meals for our guests has been both the greatest challenge and also the most rewarding experience. For us, our most important task is first and foremost, to maintain proper food hygiene in the kitchens – we adhere to the highest standards at all times."
“I think a chef is always looking to encourage harmony in people," Christie continues. “When I see different groups of people coming together, harnessing their efforts to achieve a common goal and knowing that I played a role in bringing about that synergy – that is extremely rewarding for me."
This view is also echoed by Christie’s colleague Newman – who says his most precious recollection of Epicurean Markets past has been in seeing the team come together. “At the end of Sunday, we take a little photo and have a little drink while we reflect on the event. We see then that even the celebrity chefs feel like they got something tangible from this three-day event, a real sense of having put on a great show."
In this year’s iteration, the After Parties – hours have been extended to 2am from 1am previously – on Friday and Saturday will provide guests with the perfect way to unwind with live DJ sets, accompanied by food and cocktails from renowned mixologists. Each of the three-day passes to the Epicurean Market are priced at SG$35 (RM105) and include a pair of Schott Zwiesel champagne flutes, plus entry to the After Parties. An Epicurean Market Weekend Offer by Marina Bay Sands includes two complimentary tickets with additional discounts to other attractions at the resort.