International chefs produce ready-to-eat meals for Pasir Ris vending machine

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India's Satish Arora, 70, has produced six meals for Singapore's Chef-In-Box VendCafe, which supplies readymade meals through a vending machine. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - From a vending machine in their estate, Pasir Ris residents can soon eat the same butter chicken declared by Queen Elizabeth II as the best rendition she had ever had in 1983.

The chef who prepared the meal for her in England was India's Satish Arora, who has 50 years of culinary experience with the Taj Hotel Group.

Mr Arora, 70, who also cooked up a storm for former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and former US President Bill Clinton, has now produced six meals for Singapore's Chef-In-Box VendCafe, which supplies readymade meals through a vending machine.

The five other ready-to-eat dishes are prawn chettinad, chicken korma, mixed vegetable Goa-style curry, vegetable briyani, and homestyle chicken curry.

Each dish costs $8.80. It takes three minutes to heat up the meals, which are available at Pasir Ris' VendCafe located at the void deck of Block 766, Pasir Ris Street 71.

Chef Arora's dishes were launched as part of the official opening of VendCafe in Pasir Ris. This was officiated by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, an MP for the Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency.

The Indian chef is being tapped on as part of the World Chef Series, an initiative by home-grown company JR Group to incorporate the food of top international chefs as part of their vending machine offerings.

Chef Arora's dishes will be rolled out by the end of the month and can also be purchased online from Monday (Aug 21). Another 11 meals from a Korean and Thai chef will be unveiled in phases.

JR Vending now operates a total of five VendCafes at housing estates and MRT stations as well as over 100 Chef in Box machines islandwide. Its fifth outlet also opened on Saturday (Aug 19) in Rivervale, Sengkang.

On why he decided to collaborate with the company, Chef Arora said: "This is a marriage of technology and food, and I'm all about innovation, not confusion.

"Chef-In-Box allows me to make my dishes from my kitchen and serve them not only to the man on the street but bringing a taste of India to the world stage too. This VendCafe is the future and with the chilling technology, no taste or quality is hampered."

Chef-In-Box will also be expanding for the first time overseas to London, with the aim of catering to Singaporeans abroad.

Resident Madam Wee Siew Geok, 70, who works part-time at McDonalds, said she will give Chef Arora's dishes a try. "This concept is very convenient for my family when we don't cook. The food is comparable to what you can find at a hawker centre. We buy from here at least once a week."

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