United Nations Food Day at UWCSEA & ‘Best Fish n Chips 2013’

My daughter’s school, United World College Southeast Asia (UWCSEA) Dover Campus in Singapore, holds an annual event to both celebrate the diversity of food and culture represented by the school’s students, parents and teachers, and to raise money for charities associated with the UN and the UWC Primary School Global Concerns.

It’s an extraordinary day of the hugest gastronomic proportions. To give you an idea of the multiculturalism, my daughter’s class has 18 different nationalities among her classmates! As you can well imagine, the breadth of flavours, textures and smells gives the children a fantastic opportunity of culinary discovery.

Some 900 Junior and Middle students are channelled through the main hall between 8.20am and 12.30pm, with another hour after this for the senior students, who do a brilliant job of mopping up any food left over.

2013 was the 13th Primary School United Nations Food Festival with some 250 parents putting in a considerable effort in decorating the stalls and the preparation of food; OK you can well imagine, it is hyper-competitive with a good deal of healthy rivalry between parents, countries and nations but all done in the best of spirits, and we raised $3790 for Primary School Global Concerns, the most we have ever raised at this event. Bravo!

I have had the pleasure of coordinating the New Zealand stand for a few years now, greatly assisted by my dedicated, patriotic kiwi colleagues and we all muck together to bring the students a taste of God’s own country and down to (middle) earth New Zealand cuisine.

We like to focus on one dish at our stand and last year we did roast leg of Maori Lakes Lamb (free range from the South Island Maori Lakes region) on bread sliders with classic mint jelly/sauce. It was an outrageous success and all thanks to Tim Martin, Meat Division Manager at Culina for their support. I have written a piece on a Tuscan style recipe and slow cooking Maori Lakes Lamb, click here, also Singapore Chef Samia Ahad has shared here brilliant Lamb Shanks with Persian Limes recipe as a ‘Perfect Match’ with New Zealand Pinot Noir – click here

This year we decided to do Fish and Chips, a New Zealand classic. OK, you are probably saying isn’t this a traditional British dish, and you would be right, the British (our mother country) did invent it but the pommie’s don’t come anywhere near as good as ours!

Yes folks, there is more to fish and chips than Cod. Indeed, New Zealand Snapper, Gurnard, Bluenose and the best of them all, John Dory is the go—Bros! And fat soggy chips, in chip butty’s—liberally buttered disgustingly white bread with lashing of tomato sauce—awesome!

New Zealanders take their fish and chips mightily seriously; that is its seriously good eating and the fresher the fish the better, like the legendary Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market, right on the Tauranga wharf (1 Dive Road), on the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island. My daughter reckons this is ‘The best fish-and-chips in the world!’ closely followed by Martin Bosley’s ‘Tuatara beer batter fish n chips’ and trust me, she’s an expert on the subject.

But the ‘Best Fish and Chips 2013’ award goes to The Greenwood Fish Market in Singapore, who collaborated with the Kiwi contingent to cook fish n chips on site at the UWC UN Food Day, generously donating all the piping fresh John Dory flown in from New Zealand the day before and their time and labour too. That’s 300 small serves of fish, a huge effort and the battered John Dory fried to perfection and a massive hit with the students, and adults too. Totally, totally awesome!

Greenwood Fish Market are celebrating 10 years of trading, which may not seem a long time if you come from a generation’s old Cornwall fishing family but surviving a decade in hyper-competitive Singapore is equivalent to a lifetime, read all about it click here.

Augmenting our fish n chips, one of our crew is a pavlova expert and cooks 300 mini pavlova’s for the day—an incredible effort! Of course we also have Zespri kiwifruit which are right in season and arguably the best fruit on this planet and full of vitamin C, dietary fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin E, carotenoids and other antioxidants – and the kids love them.

So there you have it, a great day had by all and the event organiser came up to me and said, “Wow, great fish and chips and theme, how are you going to do better than that next year.”

“That’s easy” I said, “We are going to have a Hāngi, is it ok if we dig a hole for it in the soccer field.” She had a somewhat bemused look on her face as she thought I was serious…I said, “Don’t worry we will fill it back in.”

Click here for pictures of the event – also visit this excellent website on New Zealand Seafood and make sure you watch the brilliant video www.seafoodnewzealand.org.nz

UN Food Festival - fish n chips close up