Up close and personal with food writer and award-winning graphic novelist

Above: Straits Times Life editor and veteran food writer Tan Hsueh Yun hosting dining session Posh Nosh: An Omakase Experience for a sold-out crowd of 24 diners yesterday at this year's Coffee Festival. Below: The Coffee Academics' coffee in a cone i
Above: Straits Times Life editor and veteran food writer Tan Hsueh Yun hosting dining session Posh Nosh: An Omakase Experience for a sold-out crowd of 24 diners yesterday at this year's Coffee Festival. Below: The Coffee Academics' coffee in a cone is a cool take on a hot beverage.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM
Above: Straits Times Life editor and veteran food writer Tan Hsueh Yun hosting dining session Posh Nosh: An Omakase Experience for a sold-out crowd of 24 diners yesterday at this year's Coffee Festival. Below: The Coffee Academics' coffee in a cone i
Award-winning graphic novelist Sonny Liew discussing his relationship with the National Arts Council and his new book that is tentatively set in Hong Kong, at yesterday's event. With him is moderator Fiona Chan (right), head of group strategy and analytics at Singapore Press Holdings.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM
Above: Straits Times Life editor and veteran food writer Tan Hsueh Yun hosting dining session Posh Nosh: An Omakase Experience for a sold-out crowd of 24 diners yesterday at this year's Coffee Festival. Below: The Coffee Academics' coffee in a cone i
ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM

Fans got up close with two personalities at the Singapore Coffee Festival - award-winning graphic novelist Sonny Liew and Straits Times Life editor and veteran food writer Tan Hsueh Yun.

It was Mr Liew's first public appearance since winning at the prestigious Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for his book The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye.

In a half-hour lunchtime chat, he discussed the state of arts funding in Singapore, his creative process and plans for his new book.

The 42-year-old became the first Singaporean to win at last month's Eisners, considered the Oscars of the comics industry.

Asked about whether the state should fund the arts, the Malaysia-born Singapore citizen said: "I don't think the idea that the arts should be totally weaned off state funding makes sense because in Singapore, the Government is involved in everything.

"Despite the fact that we are supposedly a free market, nothing exists in Singapore without some kind of state infrastructure.

"It's like saying that healthcare should be privatised - it doesn't make sense in a Singapore context.

GREAT AMBIENCE

It's a good mixture of all the different communities. There are free samples, good food, coffee and beer. The location this year is great, the view here is awesome and you get live music with the sea breeze.

MS LESLIE PEACOCK, 32, who works in retail management.


CAN'T BEAT THE BREW

I'm a coffee lover and I would say the coffee here is the best part of the festival. There's a nice balance between the number of food and coffee vendors too. Another favourite is to have the experience of making a cup of coffee and to try my hand at latte art. We also got to try coffee made with new technology, such as the nitro cold brew, so that was quite interesting.

MR CHARLES HEAH, 31, technical officer.


LIVE MUSIC A BIG HIT

What I like most about the Coffee Festival is the atmosphere. The coffee is nice too, like this salt chocolate drink from Strangers' Reunion. The live music out there (in Sunset Wharf) is great. The location this year is different from last year, and with the outdoor areas, there's a nice view and it's very cooling. The location this year is also more accessible.

MR RAMIREZ NGO, 20, full-time national serviceman.

"But having said that," he added, "more private funding would be a good thing."

In 2015, the National Arts Council (NAC) withdrew a $8,000 publishing grant after his book's publication because it "potentially undermines the authority and legitimacy of the Government and its public institutions".

When the NAC congratulated Mr Liew for his Eisner wins on Facebook, it drew flak from netizens for not naming the book he won for.

Mr Liew said the NAC has yet to reach out to him directly about these issues, but that he hopes for the chance to have an open dialogue with it.

He also spoke about his work-in-progress, a book that is tentatively set in Hong Kong and explores the concept of capitalism.

After the talk, Mr Liew signed copies of his book for the around 30-strong crowd in attendance.

Also signing autographs was Ms Tan, who hosted dining session Posh Nosh: An Omakase Experience for a sold-out crowd of 24 diners. They had paid $88 each to try an eight-course menu curated by her.

One of the diners, Ms Low Shoumin, 45, a music educator, said: "I have been reading Ms Tan's articles on food for 10 years. I can see that she took pains to think about the balance of flavours in this menu."

Ms Tan, 49, said: "It was wonderful to see such a lively group of diners share their love for food.

"I am heartened that they enjoyed my selections and gave constructive feedback on how the food can be improved."

Later in the afternoon, Ms Tan met readers at the soft launch of her cookbook Hunger Management. The 144-page book is named after her fortnightly cooking column.

It is on sale at the festival for $20.

Its regular price in major bookstores is $26.75.

Ms Tan will hold another meet-and-greet session at the ST Press booth on level two at 4pm today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 06, 2017, with the headline 'Up close and personal with food writer and award-winning graphic novelist'. Print Edition | Subscribe