Behind The Line

Taken from Straits Times

Orange Is The New Black author Piper Kerman sees red over prison-themed meal in Singapore

SINGAPORE – Author of the memoir Orange Is The New Black: My Year In A Women’s Prison Piper Kerman has called a Singaporean prison-themed dining event “repulsive”, but diners whom The Straits Times spoke to at the event on June 16 afternoon were unfazed.

Known as the Litchfield Penitentiary Cafeteria experience, the free, two-day pop-up event, which kicked off to the public at lunch time on June 16, allows patrons to eat grub in a jail-like cafeteria.

Orchard Road’s OverEasy restaurant has been transformed to look like the cafeteria featured in popular Netflix TV series Orange Is The New Black, which is based on Kerman’s book.

Earlier this week, the 46-year-old writer had told online magazine Jezebel that the event was insensitive to prisoners: “This is repulsive. I am not aware of this being Netflix, but you should ask them.”

The event is indeed organised by Netflix, to promote the fourth and latest season of the acclaimed comedy series, which launches on the online streaming service on June 17.

When contacted, Netflix declines to comment.

But chef Bjorn Shen, owner of popular local restaurants Artichoke in Middle Road and Bird Bird in Ann Siang Road, and who was hired to create the menu for the event, tells The Straits Times: “The event is done in good spirit to promote the show.”

Diners say they enjoyed themselves, and did not think that it was done in poor taste.

Junior college student Mircalla Wong, 17, a self-professed “huge fan” of the show, took photos of the surroundings, which also features standees of the actresses from the show, a security scanner prior to entry, and an area to take mug-shots.

She says: “This event is made for fans to have a good time, and get us excited about the show’s new season. The place looks very good and for fans, it’s worth our time to come and experience it.”

Mr Lee Min Quan, 28, a senior sales executive also at the lunch on Thursday, agrees.

He says: “This whole thing is just a gimmick, and it’s all for fun. No one is disrespecting anything.”

Although he says the food looks scary, he adds that he enjoyed it.

“It’s done by Bjorn, so you know it can’t taste bad.”

The mushy-looking meals, which are served in trays by women in orange jumpsuits, feature a corn dish with jalapenos and spiced butter, a dark loaf made with mushrooms and cheddar cheese drizzled with gravy, and a dessert of coconut rice pudding and almond crumble.

A total of 480 seats were reserved online for the two-day event, which continues for dinner on June 16 and for lunch and dinner on June 17. Walk-ins are available, and the meals are free.

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