Cooking Up Some Hawker Delights

Adding a dash of flavour
To further improve the vibrancy of hawker centres, NEA also encouraged hawker associations to organise fringe activities. For example, the East Coast Lagoon Food Village has been hosting activities such as busking and flea markets.

In conjunction with Singapore Food Festival 2006, NEA organised the month long ‘Hawker Food Passport’ event at Newton and Maxwell Food Centres to profile hawker centres and hawker fare. Not surprisingly, these activities drew crowds and improved businesses in the hawker centres.
Spicing Up The Cooks
Over the years, NEA has been actively working with stakeholders, grassroots and other government agencies to enhance the hawker centre experience. And while upgrading the physical facilities is important, upgrading the hawkers themselves is also crucial.

We are talking specifically about upgrading their skills and aptitude so that they can better serve their patrons. One such initiative in that direction is the joint effort with Workforce Development Authority (WDA) to improve the service standards in markets/hawker centres.

Hawkers can attend courses in customer service, stall displays and food hygiene under WDA’s skills upgrading programme. Successful completion of each course earns them a WSQ Statement of Attainment.

To date, 1,400 hawkers have completed the WSQ customer service training course. A pre- and post-training survey completed in December 2006 showed that training has helped hawkers to better manage customer expectations, address customers’ needs, and project a more professional image. It also indicated that customer service has improved by 21%.

As more stallholders are trained in the delivery of good customer service and better stall displays, one can expect a more pleasurable dining experience at hawker centres.
Smoke-free Notice Served
A major milestone towards better health at hawker centres had nothing to do with the food being cooked. Smoking restrictions at hawker centres were implemented on 1 July 2006 to protect patrons from second-hand smoke. In fact, some centres like the revamped Newton Food Centre are 100% smoke-free.

Back to the food though, NEA is also looking into continuing the collaboration with the Health Promotion Board to promote healthier food in hawker centres. Dining at hawker centres has never been so palatable!

Upgrading is not Just for Flats
5,000 hawkers will receive national certification for skills under the Food and Beverage (F&B) Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) system by 2008. This is part of the pilot Skills Upgrading for Hawkers Programme developed jointly by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and NEA to raise service standards and upgrade skills in the F&B industry. WDA has set aside $1.8m to fund the skills upgrading programme over two years.

In order to raise the standard of food hygiene, NEA also aligned its Basic Food Hygiene course for Food Handlers to the F&B WSQ system with effect from 1 June 2007. This new Food Handlers’ course contains a practical segment, allowing hawkers to demonstrate their understanding of various hygiene tips better.

Said NEA’s Director-General for Public Health, Mr Khoo Seow Poh: “A competency-based course will make the training on good food hygiene practices more interesting and effective. This will contribute towards our desire to improve the standard of food hygiene across all eating establishments including hawker centres.”

According to Ms Teo Sio Hoon, Director of WDA’s Tourism Division, the WSQ is an open access system which enables hawkers to take up training regardless of their academic background. “With the relevant F&B skills and WSQ certificates, hawkers will also have the mobility to look for jobs in other F&B sectors and/or continue to upgrade themselves for better employability.”
Here are some interesting nuggets of information about our hawker centres, served in fives, of course.
The Five Oldest
(i) Maxwell Food Centre
(ii) Holland Road Market & Food Centre
(iii) Tiong Bahru Market
(iv) Beo Crescent Market/Food Centre
(v) Serangoon Garden Market

The Five Largest
(i) Blk 335 Smith Street
(ii) Tekka Centre
(iii) Tiong Bahru Market
(iv) Blk 270 Queen Street
(v) Blk 51 Old Airport Road

The Five Newest
(i) Blk 4A Eunos Crescent
(ii) Blk 320 Shunfu Road
(iii) Blk 502 West Coast Drive
(iv) Blk 505 Jurong West St 52
(v) Blk 347 Jurong East Ave 1

The Five Smallest
(i) Labrador Villa Food Centre
(ii) Blk 75 Lor 5 Toa Payoh
(iii) Samulun Food Centre
(iv) Chomp Chomp Food Centre
(v) Adam Food Centre

The Five Most Famous
(i) Newton Food Centre
(ii) East Coast Lagoon Food Village
(iii) Maxwell Food Centre
(iv) Tiong Bahru Market
(v) Tekka Centre

The Five Most Recently Upgraded
(i) Tiong Bahru Market
(as at 31 Mar 07)
(ii) Blk 49 Sims Place
(iii) Blk 6 Jalan Bukit Merah
(iv) Blk 254 Jurong East Street 24
(v) Newton Food Centre
 Hawker Centres selected for 5th Batch of Upgrading
Blk 160/162
Ang Mo Kio Ave 4
Blk 50A Marine Terrace
Blk 17
Upper Boon Keng Road
Blk 89 Circuit Road
Blk 20/21
Marsiling Lane
Blk 93 Lor 4 Toa Payoh
Tekka Centre
Blk 2/3 Changi Village
Blk 7 Empress Road