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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Marina Bay Sands 24/7

Marina Bay Sands: Asia's most popular integrated resort and an icon of Singapore's skyline, i see it with a fresh pair of eyes after visiting the underground labyrinth underneath the 57 floors, 194 meters tall building.
With over 2,500 rooms and a US$5.7 million price tag, MBS has a 9,000 strong army to keep it ticking around the clock.  For example, the bakery within the kitchen does not stop work at all.

Little did the guests above ground floor know what goes on underneath.

Especially to Lady Gaga who lives in a similar suite (SGD $8K - 13K a night) as this when she visited last year.

The floor that doesn't exist to hotel guests, it's like another city and a much futuristic society below. Going underground has also made me realize that any business is really about the people behind it, or in this case, beneath. Without people, there wouldn't be any business.

The 24/7 Uniform Room stores and sorts over 100,000 garments including uniforms, scarves, aprons and ties.
The team works around the clock to tailor, press and attach electronic tags to the garments, which are then sorted out in a conveyor belt system to be collected by uniformed staff, all fully automated and organized.
Feeding the Masses
 On a typical day, team members consume 200kg of rice, 1,200 kg protein/ meat and 1,500 kg of veggies in the staff dining room. This is equivalent to the weight of a female Asian elephant.

As the Executive Chef of Marina Bay Sands, Christopher Christie oversees the entire 400-strong culinary team at the integrated resort. Chris is responsible for making sure the 43 individual kitchens deliver an average of 15,000 meals a day.

I ask the chef some questions.

Me: Overseeing a massive amount of food daily, do you still get hungry? You may already be visually full!

Chef Christie: I actually rarely sit down to have a proper meal at work. I am often on-the-go, tasting food throughout the day for quality control.

For every minute you stand on your feet, you burn 7 calories. For Chef to stand and eat, he must hardly store any fat!

Me: Does it hurt when you see food wastage?

Chef Christie: It does! I don't take it personally but i do investigate. If not the taste, then is it because the portion is too big? Food wastage is a huge issue in our industry and the Marina Bay Sands vision is to go green. We create awareness in the staff dining room, so that's the start of education!

Me: What's the oddest food concoction you were asked to prepare?

Chef Christie: Peanut butter and apple! Both uncooked, as is, was the weirdest combination ever requested. As a chef, it's the most unlikely pairing. I was curious, so yes i did try after the customer was gone, but no it didn't taste good.

Such requests however spurs me in daily experimentation to discover new combinations and flavours. We're currently working on durian creations, not my most favourite fruit but Singaporean's!

Merely a sneak preview of a Chef's life (large scale responsibilities), there'll be an episode on BIO: The Biography Channel where real drama will unfold as the Marina Bay Sands banquet team prepares an 8 course meal for 5, 000 guests.

In comparison, William and Kate's Royal Wedding only had 1,500 guests and they didn't even have a sit down meal at the Buckingham Palace but mere canapes.

Marina Bay Sands 24/7 is an 8 episode series that gives viewers an unprecedented and exclusive look into the "Heart of House".

Behind this series is Chris Humphrey, Executive Producer across all original content produced across the South East Asia region for AETN All Asia Networks.
Me: How real is Marina Bay Sands 24/7?

Chris: Nothing is scripted at all. Every line you hear, they're all impromptu. We were very fortunate to be able to pick 12 of the 30 staff who we auditioned to be key characters in the series. 

Fortunate indeed, as the 12 staff were really charismatic and a natural in front of TV. As i said, the people make the business. Similarly for a show, you need good people too!

Me: In your years of creating biographies, which was your most favourite and who inspires you?

Chris: Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr P Ramlee, a Malaysian film actor, director, singer, songwriter, composer and producer was my proudest film to date. It sparked alot of emotions and local talk, it touched many hearts which touched mine.

I look up to business figures like Tony Fernandes, founder and CEO of Asia's first low-cost carrier AirAsia and Ho Kwon Ping, founder of Banyan Tree Holdings. I admire them because they aren't just business men but the passion and the drive behind their doings is commendable.

13 years in Singapore, while Chris loves the little red dot for its location amongst many other things, kiasu-ism is still something he hasn't come to terms with.

And no, he still hasn't succumbed to using Kleenex to chope his seat.

Watch Marina Bay Sands 24/7 starting 31 May, 9.30pm on BIO channel.

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