Food For Thought: World Street Food Congress 2015

The second World Street Food Congress (WSFC) rolls into town this week and it won’t be offering only food, but food for thought.

Following this year’s theme, Engage, Empower and Enterprise, one of the highlights will be the special two-day Dialogue-Hackathon on Wednesday and Thursday, which will feature panel discussions and presentations by renowned street-food advocates, media and street-food vendors.

“They will talk about stuff that will make people think, act and react,” said WSFC creator and Singapore food ambassador KF Seetoh. “For instance, Top Chef Season Nine winner Paul Qui will detail his journey from cooking fine food to becoming the owner of East Side King, a group of Asian-inspired street-food trailers and restaurants in Austin, Texas. I think his story will inspire young cooks to continue Singapore’s street-food culture.

“Then you have Thai (celebrity) chef Ian Kittichai, who is a fine example of how far you can go and what you can do with a bit of knowledge of street food,” he added. “We also have a City Food panel from New York University. Because they are academics, they think about food in a very different way. What they have to say on the subject will really open your mind.”

Other personalities include Claus Meyer, co-founder of top restaurant Noma and founder of an organisation that runs food schools in Danish prisons, and Sangeeta Singh, who works with an organisation that protects the livelihood of street vendors in India.

During the Dialogue-Hackathon, participants will also hear about plans for Anthony Bourdain’s much-anticipated Singapore-style hawker centre Bourdain Market in Manhattan.

For industry players and young individuals and companies looking to enter the street food business, this conference is an invaluable opportunity to network and engage with a truly global group of movers and shakers. Tickets for the two-day event cost S$450, though students and start-ups have a chance to secure a limited number of subsidised tickets at S$100 and S$150, respectively, by writing to the organisers.

The latter group would probably benefit most from the Street Food Pitch Box segment, in which participants are encouraged to write down and submit their business ideas. Those with the best ideas will then be given three minutes to present their concepts and pitches to the panel of industry professionals and influencers.

“The Hackathon will be a town hall-style dialogue, where we want people to say what they really feel,” said Seetoh. “The best ideas come from the ground. We really want to hear what the younger generation want in order for street-food culture to thrive.”

The World Street Food Congress runs from Wednesday to Sunday at the open field at the intersection of Rochor Road and North Bridge Road. For more information about the Dialogue-Hackathon, visit


1. ANTON DIAZA. Founder of, the top food and travel blog in The Philippines and co-founder of successful weekend markets such as Cucina Andare, which is touted as the first food truck market in The Philippines.

2. CLAUS MEYER. Co-founder of Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, and founder of the Melting Pot Foundation, an organisation that runs food schools in Danish prisons.

3. IAN KITTICHAI. Thai celebrity chef and the first Asian Geographical Indication Ambassador by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property, and the Agence Francaise de Developpement.

4. KF SEETOH. Singapore’s food ambassador and founder of Makansutra.

5. DANIEL BENDER. Professor of History, Director of the Culinaria Research Centre and Canada Research Chair in Global Culture at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

6. DONNA GABACCIA. Author of We Are What We Eat: Ethnic Food And The Making Of Americans.

7. KRISHNENDU RAY. Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University.

8. JEFFREY PILCHER. Leading figure in the scholarly field of food history, and author of Planet Taco: A Global History Of Mexican Food.

9. ODILIA WINEKE. Food editor of and Femina Magazine in Indonesia.

10. PAUL QUI. Chef-owner of Qui restaurant and co-founder of East Side King, a group of Asian-inspired street food trailers and restaurants in Austin, Texas.

11. PETER LLOYD. Executive chef, Spice Market London.

12. SANGEETA SINGH. Street Food Programs Manager of the National Association of Street Vendors of India, an organisation that works to protect the livelihood rights of India’s street vendors.

13. SEAN BASINSKI. Founder and director of Street Vendor Project, a member-led worker centre for New York’s street food vendors.

14. STEPHEN WERTHER. Retail visionary who is working on the opening of the Bourdain Market with Anthony Bourdain.

15. WILLIAM WONGSO. Indonesia’s most prominent culinary expert, restaurateur, food consultant, critic, TV host and celebrity chef.



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