ST readers enjoy a farm-to-table treat at One Farrer Hotel & Spa

Participants at the farm-to-table event at One Farrer Hotel and Spa pictured with One Farrer Hotel and Spa executive chef Elson Cheong (centre) and Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun (second from right) during a cooking demonstration on June 10, 2017.
Participants at the farm-to-table event at One Farrer Hotel and Spa pictured with One Farrer Hotel and Spa executive chef Elson Cheong (centre) and Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun (second from right) during a cooking demonstration on June 10, 2017.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Participants at the farm-to-table event at One Farrer Hotel and Spa watch One Farrer Hotel and Spa executive chef Elson Cheong (right), 40, during a cooking demonstration on June 10, 2017.
Participants at the farm-to-table event at One Farrer Hotel and Spa watch One Farrer Hotel and Spa executive chef Elson Cheong (right), 40, during a cooking demonstration on June 10, 2017.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun (far left) speaks to a participant during a tour of the rooftop farm as part of the Farm-to-Table event at One Farrer Hotel and Spa for ST subscribers on June 10, 2017.
Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun (far left) speaks to a participant during a tour of the rooftop farm as part of the Farm-to-Table event at One Farrer Hotel and Spa for ST subscribers on June 10, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Walking through the lush farm at One Farrer Hotel & Spa, with its watermelon patch, abundant beds of daikon and fragrant sweet basil plants, Mr Mark Soh, 46, could not help but be inspired.

"I have my own small garden along the corridor of my HDB flat, where I grow lady's fingers and chilli. But seeing this really makes me want to grow even more vegetables," says the project executive, who is a bachelor.

As he takes a bite of a freshly plucked kedongdong fruit handed to him by the hotel's executive chef Elson Cheong, Mr Soh jokes that he can only hope to have such a wonderful garden one day.

The 11,000 sq ft farm, located on the hotel's seventh floor, boasts more than 60 varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruit and edible plants, including Ceylon spinach, star fruit, blue pea flowers and kailan.

Mr Soh was one of 20 Straits Times subscribers who were selected to enjoy a tour of the hotel's farm and taste some of its produce in a special farm-to-table event on Saturday, June 10.

The event, hosted by Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun and jointly organised by The Straits Times and One Farrer Hotel & Spa, included a farm-to-table cooking demonstration and lunch.

The multi-course lunch showcased items picked from the farm.


Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun (centre) speaks to a participant during a tour of the rooftop farm as part of the Farm-to-Table tour at One Farrer Hotel and Spa for ST subscribers on June 10, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The event was part of the ST+ programme, which aims to reward loyal subscribers of the paper. ST+ includes various discounts and privileges from brands including Canon and New Balance, as well as access to events such as movie screenings. Other perks include discounts for dining at top hotels and dining chains, exclusive room deals from hotel partners, and more.

Entrepreneur James Chia, 39, who attended the event with his eight-year-old daughter Genevieve, says it was an enlightening experience.

"It's very good to see an urban farm and learn about how they use the food they grow here in their cooking."

The founder of education technology company ArcLab, says the tour was also educational for his daughter.

"I'm happy that she got to see how vegetables and fruit really grow."

Chef Cheong, 40, says he was glad to see people taking such a keen interest in the farm.

"I myself head up to the farm twice a week to check on what is growing and get inspiration for my dishes. So it was exciting to share that with others."

Ms Tan, 49, says: "I fell in love with the farm the first time I visited and it was no less enchanting the second time. What made today special was meeting readers who are passionate about food and gardening, and seeing their reactions to tasting freshly-harvested fruit and vegetables.

"We were lucky to have two of the farm's four full-time farmers on hand to talk to us about how they manage the farm and I think our readers got good gardening tips from them.

"The food, needless to say, tasted extra good."

Lunch started off with a smoked chicken salad drizzled with the chef's dressing, made with honey, lemon and lime juice, and yogurt. The plate was filled with vegetables from the farm.


Smoked chicken salad drizzled with the chef's dressing, made with honey, lemon and lime juice, and yogurt, from the cooking demonstration at the farm-to-table event at One Farrer Hotel and Spa on June 10, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The main course was barramundi with a rich laksa paste wrapped in Ti leaves harvested from the farm and baked, ckled green papaya and angel hair pasta tossed with Thai basil pesto, again harvested from the farm.


Barramundi with a rich laksa paste wrapped in Ti leaves and angel hair pasta tossed with Thai basil pesto, from the cooking demonstration at the farm-to-table event at One Farrer Hotel and Spa on June 10, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

For dessert, there was pan fried banana with passion fruit, calamansi and honey.

The chef even surprised the guests with a fourth course - a tasting platter of his three signature dishes: Kuala Lumpur-style tai lok meen, chili crab noodles and durian fried rice.

Those who attended the event also went away with goody bags containing recipe cards for the dishes served during the lunch, notebooks from The Straits Times and the hotel's Dilly Bread and bread and butter pickles. Both were made with recipes by Doris, the late mother of the hotel's chairman, Dr Richard Helfer.

Dr Helfer, 67, says he hopes more people in Singapore will become interested in farming.

"When you actually walk through the farm and experience how things grow, the food then tastes different. Knowing where exactly your food comes from shifts your perspective."

The American hotelier, who prides himself as being the farm's chief farmer, says it is part of the hotel's intent to create a "total lifestyle environment" for its guests.

He adds that the farm is "a natural beacon of learning and knowledge to all".

melheng@sph.com.sg