Robert Rainford in Singapore

Robert Rainford

This blog loves the Asian Food Channel because it is useful as a clock (every show is about 30mins, great for timing roasts); it makes for good company when he is alone at home cooking or fulfilling his domestic duties and is a source of inspiration.

I enjoy the quirkier shows like the River Cottage series and New Scandinavian Cooking where Andreas usually uses 2 measures of brandy (“one for the salad, the other one is for the Chef who is freezing”). What I also enjoy is Robert Rainford’s show “Licence to Grill” which is on now regularly at 8pm, around the same time as I get home from work. So when I saw the ad for a BBQ dinner with him as host, I immediately sent out an email to my friends.

The “BBQ Dinner Extravaganza” was to be held at the Fullerton Hotel which I thought was pretty extravagant (or as Florence would put it: “Atas”) for a BBQ; that’s why they put the extravagance in “BBQ Dinner Extravaganza”. Somehow, “BBQ at the East Gardens” sounds too common for the Fullerton.


The Asian Food Channel people were really on-the-ball that day with someone whose name ends with “Jy-na” calling to remind me of the dinner BBQ Extravaganza. Here’s an important tip: it’s not a good thing to mumble your name on the phone especially if it sounds like the female private part.

I grant you it’s exceptionally memorable but I felt very awkward calling back and asking for [female private part] because it makes me sound desperate and creepy.


Fortunately it was a cool night because I was mortified to find, having come from a cocktail party in a lounge suit, that it was an outdoor affair. There was coat-check counter which I was grateful to hand over my jacket and tie.

Just in time too because Robert Rainford bounded on stage like a breath of fresh air especially after a dismal, energy-draining and somewhat condescending talk from someone called Maria Brown.


At this time I was a little nervous as Angeline had not turned up with my camera. I was attending a cocktail party with security, so bringing in a camera would pose difficulties. So Angeline did me a favor by bringing my camera to the BBQ Extravaganza. She’s the Artoo to my Skywalker.

Robert Rainford was everything that we’ve come to expect on his show, corny (in a good way), funny and extremely upbeat; the kind of person that will light up a party from sheer force of genuine good cheer.

And after a quick demonstration of what is a plank of cedar wood and how to cook salmon on it, dinner started with the Apple Wood Smoked Pork Belly over Papaya and Chilli Slaw.


I liked this. The fat had the right balance of unctuousness and firmness (bouncy!) and the Papaya Salad was the right thing to cut through all that richness and flavor. The apple wood was more of a layered back-of-the-throat flavor than an in-your-face thing. I would have preferred a colder salad and perhaps a little more brown sugar on the pork belly and sugar on the slaw, but that’s just me.

All this while, the AFC crew was filming everyone chomping down and throwing questions at people. So if you see someone that looks like Brad Pitt chowing down, it is most probably Brad Pitt chowing down.

AFC Crew

For our main, we had a choice of Cedar Planked Salmon, Smokey Southwestern Rice & Stuffed Grilled Tomatoes or spicy beef short ribs. The beef was selected for me.

Robert Rainford was going on about how fish should be served medium rare for that right balance of fresh flavor and smoky goodness. The way to test for this is to put the thumb and middle finger of your left hand together and with the index finger of your right hand, touch the fish. If you feel a heartbeat, you should scream like a little girl and run out the door.

Grilled Salmon On Cedar Wood

Actually, the best way to check for doneness is to do what we did: break open the fish and marvel at the perfection.

Unfortunately, the Spicy Grilled Beef Short Ribs wasn’t as fantastic. I got a good cut of the short ribs which had a nice layer of fat on top, unlike others at my table who complained it was dry. That’s the luck of the draw for you. Anyway, while I enjoyed the meat, I cannot help but question the use of the Chili oil in this because it only worked for the Parmesan but did nothing but add a little heat to the beef which only served to distract from the flavor. Perhaps if they used Sichuan pepper oil instead; I think the slightly sweet, lemony flavor would have done a better job.


Dessert was a strange combination of Summertime Bread Pudding, BBQ Grilled Pineapple, Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice-cream. It worked actually as I combined the ice-cream with the pineapple. This is because someone forgot to check the ripeness of the pineapple (it was sour). The bread pudding was very hearty but I would have preferred something a little lighter and more refreshing in this heat.


I have to say that the food was a little mundane to the point of being boring, what with the blackish-brown pork belly followed by the blackish beef ribs and a brown bread pudding. There were mutterings about the menu being changed as some were looking forward to the Beer-can Chicken, but I enjoyed the ribs.

The Fullerton Hotel was also generous enough to waive corkage for the event, so we had two bottles of a very nice Australian Shiraz (The Clarendon Hills Austalis and The Prodigy).

Despite Maria Brown’s efforts to put us down, we had fun at dinner. The food was so-so but what more than made up for it was Robert Rainford’s enthusiasm which was so genuinely infectious that it perked everyone up in a virtuous cycle of energy.

I really look forward to his return to Singapore soon. Till then: Pat, pat pat; moosh, moosh, moosh!



Posted on 18th Jun 2009 in About, American, Food and Drink, Meat, Singapore


There Are 6 Comments


yixiaooo commented on June 18, 2009 at 4:32 pm

AFC? Aww shucks, Ivan. It really hurts. Haha


ivan commented on June 18, 2009 at 4:56 pm



vinny commented on June 18, 2009 at 10:32 pm

cos she’s with discovery…hahaha.


Camemberu commented on June 19, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Oh you went for this! I was tossing whether to go or not. I love Robert Rainford and his exuberant cheer! I think he makes food delicious just by being so happy.

Is Marisha (or Maria) Brown that woman who co-owns AFC? Kinda matches what I’ve heard about her.

LOL, poor Jy-na!


yixiaooo commented on June 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm



ivan commented on June 22, 2009 at 3:34 pm

@Camemberu: Be that as it may, how she conducts herself professionally is her own business, but I think as paying guests, we can do without the patronization; I’m glad, as a response to her speech, we more or less ignored her.

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