Peace burgers with kimchi feed frenzy for Trump-Kim’s Singapore summit

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Restaurants in Singapore gear up for Tuesday's meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by serving up Kim and Trump-themed dishes. (Arab News photos)
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Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gestures towards the media as he meets with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un at the Istana in Singapore on June 10, 2018. (REUTERS/Edgar Su)
Updated 11 June 2018

Peace burgers with kimchi feed frenzy for Trump-Kim’s Singapore summit

  • Restaurants in Singapore cook up fusion dishes ahead of the historic summit, symbolizing the hope of reaching reconciliation through food
  • A personal invitation has also been sent to Trump and Kim inviting them to taste “The Burger for World Peace,” the restaurant’s blend of US and Korean flavors using bulgogi, kimchi mayo and US sharp cheddar.

SINGAPORE: There’s a buzz in the air as restaurants in Singapore gear up for the much-anticipated meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, dishing up Korean “fire meat” burgers with a side of kimchi mayo and American cheese.

On social media local fast-food restaurant Wolf Burgers has urged the two leaders to #SettleTheBeef. 

A personal invitation has also been sent to Trump and Kim inviting them to taste “The Burger for World Peace,” the restaurant’s blend of US and Korean flavors using bulgogi (Korean grilled beef, meaning literally fire meat), kimchi mayo and US sharp cheddar.

“I don’t know if they actually saw it, or if they will acknowledge it, but it would be really, really awesome if they did,” said Sarah Lin, the 32-year-old head chef and co-owner of Wolf Burgers, who came up with the idea.

The limited edition burger has stirred a lot of interest among Wolf’s customers, she said, adding: “It has definitely helped put Wolf Burgers out there, especially since we are a home-grown brand, so it has helped us on an international level.”

As more than 3,000 journalists from all over the world descend on the city-state of Singapore to cover the denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang, all eyes will be on the luxurious Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa. Here, for the first time in history, a sitting US president will meet a North Korean leader face-to-face. 

“I think it’s fantastic that this ‘peace conference’ is happening here,” said James Cheah, a British diner at Wolf Burgers. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for Singapore to prove to the world that it’s a hub not just for finance and tech opportunities, but also on the political stage,” said Cheah.

“Do I think the talks are going to be successful? I think they are going to be as successful as the combination of bulgogi beef and American cheddar cheese. I think it’s going to be a terrible mess,” he said. 

“Whatever happens, which I think will be very little, it will be a huge propaganda win for North Korea and my heart bleeds for the North Koreans.”

His friend Hugh McKee, an Irish engineer who has been living here for four years, admitted he was neither a Trump fan, nor was he familiar with North Korean politics.

“I don’t know what’s to come, but definitely, Singapore’s going to be a winner,” he said. He thinks the high-profile event will “put Singapore on the world map for future conferences.” Maybe Round Two of a Trump-Kim summit? Or perhaps the Canadians, Mexicans and Europeans will also be looking to meet Trump here, he said, tongue-in-cheek.

Wolf Burgers is not the only restaurant to be joining the summit frenzy. Over at Harmony Nasi Lemak restaurant, the crew spent a month researching, before coming up with their fusion dish. The Trump Kim-chi Nasi Lemak not only combines the flavors of American dry-aged beef with fried Korean kimchi, it also blends together the tastes of Singapore’s Indian, Chinese, Malay and Eurasian cultures.

Its Singaporean co-founder, Zach Wen, explained: “We wanted to make Trump feel welcome, and because he has been very protective of beef exports from the US, we decided to use American beef in our dish.”

To pay tribute to Singapore’s four main ethnic groups, the dish uses Indian basmati rice cooked in Chinese chicken soup, combined with traditional Malay homemade sambal chilli, topped with a European sunny-side-up egg, fried to a crisp.

“This forms the foundation of Singapore,” the 34-year-old said philosophically, “and as Singapore holds the summit, it holds together the beef symbolizing the US and the kimchi, symbolizing North Korea.”

But what happened when Trump canceled the Singapore summit?

“We continued to brainstorm, because it was not perfect. We didn’t give up,” he told Arab News.

As Trump has always been known to be a good dealmaker, Wen is hoping the US President will “close the deal.”

“In Southeast Asia, a lot of people think this is a joke, but it’s not a joke. Nuclear is a serious thing and the Koreans and Japanese feel it more than us.”

Asked if he would be watching the summit live on Tuesday morning, when Trump and Kim finally meet, he replied with a laugh: “I think I need some sleep.”

Azzedine Alaia exhibition at London’s Design Museum captures the essence of his creative spirit

Updated 21 June 2018

Azzedine Alaia exhibition at London’s Design Museum captures the essence of his creative spirit

LONDON: For lovers of fashion, a visit to the Azzedine Alaia exhibition, showing at London’s Design Museum until 7 October, is a must. Looking at the wonderful displays there is a sense of loss at his passing in November last year, but this is a great retrospective of the Tunisian designer’s life and work, which allows you to go right up to the garments on display and take in the breathtaking quality and detail of Alaia’s designs.

Alaia, born in 1935, trained as a sculptor at the School of Fine Art in Tunis. That background is evident in many of his figure-hugging designs — particularly the stunning, pared-down evening gowns.

When you look at the super slim-line garments on display it can be a bit disheartening when you see the tiny hips and waists. It makes you think of the remark attributed to Wallis Simpson: “You can never be too rich or too thin.”

But Alaia’s world was not for ordinary mortals — it was an extraordinary place for beautiful people living a dream. In the film made by Ellen von Unwerth during the preparation, staging and aftermath of an Alaia show in 1990, you see Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen  and Christy Turlington at the height of their beauty and fame reminding us of the ‘supermodel’ era, when these women dominated the international tabloid press.

Alaia himself said, “I make clothes, women make fashion.” And you only have to think of stars such as Rihanna and Penelope Cruz wearing his designs on the red carpet to understand what he means.

The film of models walking in his designs is mesmerising – each model is filmed in sequence with close up shots of what she is wearing — an excellent way of showing the fabrics, cut, patterns and innovation and how they are all brought alive through movement. Alaia’s designs flatter the female form and seem enhance women’s beauty.

The influence of Arab architecture is evident in some of his designs. His use of lace and perforated fabrics, especially broderie anglaise and punched or laser-cut leather, recalls the mashrabiya.

His ability to transform leather into such a soft, wearable, high-fashion fabric was stunning to see up close.

Also notable was his avoidance of surface embellishment such as embroidery or applied decoration. Instead, Alaia keyed pattern into the very fabric of his garments, making it an integral part of their structure, altering both their weight and form.

His fascination with African influences is also evident in his use of unusual materials including flax rope, raffia, shells or Nile crocodile skin and animal patterns.

Alaia was also deeply inspired by Spanish culture — his earliest fashion memories were reportedly of the girls in Diego Velazquez’s 1656 paining, “Las Meninas” and his voluminous ball gowns evoke the formality of the hooped gowns of the Spanish royal court during that time. He also took inspiration from Spain’s vibrant folk costumes, as seen in the effusive flamenco-inspired ruffles of some of his designs.

Through the photographs mapping his life you get a sense of the creative process and hard work that went into his couture. You also realize that this was a man who was at the top of his profession for several decades.

The exhibition does a fine job of conveying Alaia’s creative energy, and reminds visitors that his legacy lives on in the inspiration his work provides for young designers today.