Student Ken Chan gave up on a chance to sleep in during his school holidays so that he and his father could be among the first to meet The Straits Times' star food writers Tan Hsueh Yun and Wong Ah Yoke at Starbucks at Wheelock Place yesterday morning.
The 16-year-old and his father, Mr Kelvin Chan, 49, a manager who had taken the day off, were up at 6am and in line outside the basement coffee joint by about 7.30am.
ST's food writers were there to meet and talk to readers as part of the launch of ST's new food website straitstimesfood.com, known as ST Food.
Readers who like @StraitsTimesFood on Facebook were given a free cup of Starbucks Teavana Red Ribbon Green Tea Latte. A total of 500 cups were given out at five participating outlets in the Orchard Road area. Early birds at the Wheelock Place outlet were presented with ST tumblers and notebooks as well as The Straits Times Press cookbook, Cook Mee: 60 Ways To Jazz Up Your Instant Noodles.
Ms Tan, 49, ST's Life editor, said: "I was very heartened to see people queueing up even before the cafe opened at 8am, and some said they had come to support Ah Yoke and me. That was a lovely surprise.
"I wish there had been more time to chat but some had to rush off to work. We must try and create other opportunities to meet and interact with our readers."
The father-and-son duo also took the opportunity to ask Ms Tan to autograph their copy of Cook Mee.
The older Mr Chan said: "I like that ST's food writers actually review the food. This gives us a better idea of what to expect. It is through their expertise that we learn to appreciate food better."
Yesterday's free drinks marked the first of five days of foodie giveaways to promote ST Food. Besides Starbucks, The Straits Times has also partnered with bingsu chain Ice Lab, electronics firm Panasonic's consumer business and agricultural arm Veggie Life, salted egg snack maker The Golden Duck, and cider brewery Somersby for the giveaways.
Up for grabs today are 100 bowls of Korean bingsu, or shaved ice, in assorted flavours from Ice Lab at Orchard Shopping Centre near 313@Somerset. The bingsu is available from 11am for those who like @StraitsTimesFood on Facebook.
Visit straitstimesfood.com for details on the rest of the treats.
Ms Tan added: "The response to ST Food has been very encouraging and our Facebook page attracts more and more likes each day.
"I hope that people will turn to us first for food news, unbiased food reviews and recipes. We will continue to innovate and improve, you can count on that."
•Go to straitstimesfood.com for the best eats