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Singapore's 'hooligan' hawker serves up free meals

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on April 29, 2020 - Duration: 02:17s

Singapore's 'hooligan' hawker serves up free meals

Most of Singapore's famous hawker stalls have been closed since early April, but 28-year-old chef Jason Chua, better known by fans as "Beng Who Cooks," has vowed to stay open for the many who now depend on him.

Gloria Tso has more.

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Singapore's 'hooligan' hawker serves up free meals

Frying chunks of tofu and charring a pan of chicken, 28-year-old Jason Chua and his blow torch are all fired up, ready to serve free meals for those in need.

Most of Singapore's famous hawker stalls have been shut since early April, when the city-state imposed a self-styled "circuit breaker" shutdown.

But Chua has still been hard at work since then.

He's vowed to stay open for those who have been hit by the economic downturn and now depend on his cooking.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CO-OWNER OF BENG WHO COOKS, JASON CHUA, SAYING: "When you start doing a lot more foundation work, a lot more charity work right, you see a lot of things that you're not supposed to see.

A side that nobody shows in the world.

Like, maybe one flat (with) nine kids, somebody who has down syndrome kids, the whole family is having problems. You see a lot of things that are heartbreaking.

You make yourself want to do it more than just profit for yourself." The tattoo-covered boxer turned chef is better known by fans as the "Beng Who Cooks," "beng" being Singaporean slang for the word "hooligan." He makes over 50 free meals a day on average through the organization he co-runs with a friend, "Beng Who Cares." All those in need have to do for a free meal -- contact the organization on social media, and leave their name and address, no questions asked.

Singapore's crisis has taken a surprising turn for the worse, leaving the current shutdown in place for at least another month.

But even as Chua says his own business has suffered and lost money, he says the few takeout orders he still receives from paying customers are helping him stay afloat.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CO-OWNER OF BENG WHO COOKS, JASON CHUA, SAYING: "We still do, maybe 10 to 25 orders per day for our business side, so that we can still sustain ourselves throughout this period of time.

As long as we don't die, so that we can survive, we are still trying to give back." As one of the youngest hawkers in his food court, Chua says some of his older neighbors have warned him not to let others take advantage of him and his free meals.

But at the end of the day, Chua says his customers' positive feedback is what keeps him coming back to the kitchen every time.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CO-OWNER OF BENG WHO COOKS, JASON CHUA, SAYING: "Yeah, but those little feedbacks are really amazing.

It motivates you.

And I say, I crave for a lot of praises, and those praises are what is pushing me and motivating me to do what I really love, what I currently love."

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