Hundreds of excited Singaporean fans packed the already crowded Maxwell Food Centre for a glimpse of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay on Friday afternoon.
Sweating but clutching their cameras excitedly, the fans cheered, whooped and screamed when Ramsay appeared at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice around noon to start his "lessons" on how to prepare the Singaporean hawker classic.
The crowd was so dense that Ramsay, who had been scheduled to learn to prepare the dish for two hours, barely had fifteen minutes to speak to Tian Tian's lady owner, Loi Mui Yin, before security whisked him away.
He donned plastic gloves and carefully watched the process of assembling a plate of chicken rice, which he placed on a tray for serving.
Looking a little tired in his classic black t-shirt and black jeans combo, the English chef still appeared in high spirits, waving and shaking hands with as many fans as he could and thanking them for coming down.
And although he is well-known for his bad temper and peppering his speech with expletives a la Hell's Kitchen, Ramsay was deeply respectful and unfailingly polite towards Loi and her kitchen crew.
Ramsay is here in Singapore after taking up a challenge by local food bloggers to face-off against Singapore's top three hawkers in a culinary showdown.
Ang Kiam Meng from Jumbo Seafood, Mdm Foo Kui Lian from Tian Tian Chicken Rice, and Ryan Koh from 328 Katong Laksa were chosen as the most popular hawkers.
They were picked after eight days of voting which saw over 2.5 million votes cast.
On Friday and Saturday, Ramsay will be learning how to cook the three dishes, ending in a final face-off on 7 July at Newton Food Centre.
The non-ticketed event organised by local telco Singtel is open to the public. A thousand servings of food will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
When he was first issued the challenge, the world-renowned chef sent his response in a YouTube clip, voicing his doubts that Singapore food is as good as Singaporeans say it is.
"The people of Singapore want to put their favourite hawker food to a Michelin star test... many of them think that hawker food is deserving of more recognition," he is seen saying, speaking from the inside of a kitchen.
"Frankly, I'm not an expert on Singapore food; I'm not sure if it's as good as Singaporeans actually say it is... I've got to see this for myself, and see what they have to offer. One thing I'm certain of is that people will like my version better!"
Watch him accept the challenge here:
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay accepts cook-off challenge in Singapore