In the end, Singapore's hawker heroes beat celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay at the SingTel Hawker Heroes Challenge at Newton Food Centre last night.
Ramsay beat the competition with his chilli crab, but failed to serve up a crowd-pleasing laksa and chicken rice.
The Michelin starred chef beat Mr Ang Kiam Meng, chief executive officer of Jumbo Seafood Restaurant by five per cent, but lost to Mr Ryan Koh, 31, of 328 Katong Laksa by 19 per cent and Madam Foo Kui Lian, 64, of Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice by six per cent.
Around 3,000 votes were cast by 1,000 members of the public who turned up at the hawker centre to taste Chef Ramsay's and the hawkers' versions of each dish, and voted for their favourites via SMS.
On losing in two of the three categories, the notoriously foul-mouthed 46-year-old chef said: "What I'm taking home is a confirmation of how good hawker food is. I won three Michelin stars and they still kick my a**."
On his victory over the celebrity chef, Mr Koh said: "I feel really happy to have won while representing Singapore. Chef Ramsay did not have a basic understanding of laksa but he was here only one day. Maybe if he had more time he would cook better than us."
One thousand portions were available on a first-come first-serve basis. Some fans started queuing as early as 1am this morning. By the time the cook-out started at 6pm, almost 5,000 people had congregated for the three hour-long event.
Ramsay spent much of the time stalking intensely around the make-shift kitchen stirring the chili crab sauce and helping with the meal service.
He said he changed his laksa recipe at the last minute, a move which, he admitted, was probably a mistake.
The chef, who left for London right after the competition ended, said that the hawker food, particularly laksa, was incredibly difficult to master. "The laksa was a tough one because there are so many different variations, the tofu, the coconut, the shrimp, the paste so I was struggling."