After watching Singaporean director Eric Khoo's food-themed film Wanton Mee, four chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants created their versions of local fare such as chilli crab for an event last Thursday at the recent Berlin International Film Festival.
Khoo gave all the dishes the thumbs-up. He told The Straits Times: "All four chefs watched the film and created the dishes inspired by the film with their own artistic take. I liked all the dishes as they were extremely tasty. My favourite would be the chilli crab as it was super punchy and you didn't have to use your fingers."
The menu included an amuse-bouche of seafood and vegetables with an intense sauce by Anton Schmaus, (one-Michelin- starred Storstad), a play on chilli crab with king crab and spicy tomato fume by Alexander Dressel (one-Michelin-starred Restaurant Friedrich Wilhelm), an interpretation of Indian curry with red porgy fish and papaya by Thomas Merkle (one-Michelin-starred Merkles Restaurant) and a mantou (Chinese steamed bun) dish with wasabi and carrot by Daniel Schmidthaler (one-Michelin-starred Alte Schule Furstenhagen).
Wanton Mee was part of the festival's line-up for the Culinary Cinema programme, which ran from Feb 14 to last Friday. The showcase, themed Make Food Not War, comprised 11 feature-length films on the relationship between food, culture and politics.
In the 71-minute-long Wanton Mee, an affectionate look at local dishes such as fish head curry, chilli crab, bak chor mee and nasi lemak, actor Koh Boon Pin plays a food critic who digs into the stories behind these much-loved eats.
Khoo, 50, said: "I was trying to be greedy, so everything I like I threw it all in."
It was also his attempt to try and slow the rapid pace of change in Singapore.
"We were worried that as time progresses, eventually, some of these foods will no longer exist."
At the Berlin event, patrons paid €98 (S$153) to watch the film on Feb 18 and enjoy the special four-course meal afterwards.
The pop-up restaurant set up for the occasion could seat 200 guests and Khoo enthused about the "brilliant atmosphere" and called the evening a "big success".
The film-maker was represented at the festival by the dramas Be With Me in 2006 and Mee Pok Man in 1996.
Food has been a recurring theme in his movies from his dark debut feature, Mee Pok Man, to the more recent television movie, Recipe (2013), which serves up curry rice and dementia.
Sprinkle that with the infectious enthusiasm with which he talks about it and that makes him the perfect choice to be a food ambassador for Singapore.
He added: "What touched me most after our dinner Q&A were all these people who came up to me and said they'll visit Singapore because of our film - that there's this universal bond of food, memories and love."