So you want to be a cook?
Siew Hoon Yeoh rolls up her sleeves in the kitchen this month.
On a recent trip to Cardiff, I popped into Jamie’s Italian restaurant. I was curious to try it, not that I am a big Jamie Oliver fan nor do I love to cook. I am one of those people who only do it once in a blue moon and wonder why I don’t more often because it’s actually quite fun and satisfying when it turns out right. I like what he’s done to try and get children to eat fresh food and how he makes cooking look easy and fun.
I like the look and feel of the restaurant – lots of wood, high ceilings, a central area where the cooking takes place and an array of gourmet delights for sale. The restaurant prides itself on using local ingredients so I ordered pasta with cockles and leeks (very Welsh) while my friend had a wild mushroom risotto. The food was good, the service friendly and the place bustling.
Inspired by Jamie, I returned to Singapore with two tins of tomato truffle pasta sauce. Another evening I dined at Chef d’Table at CHIJMES and asked Chef Jason how to cook with it. He’s become a friend over the years – it’s very important to have chef friends to turn to for culinary advice. He said: “You don’t want to do anything more than add garlic, onions and fresh herbs. Very easy.”
Notice how chefs always say “very easy”? Just like IT people say “very easy” when you buy a new gadget and ask them how it works. Chef Jason offered to run a cooking class for my friends and I – an opportunity I pounced on of course. I love cooking classes when travelling – it’s especially fun with friends when you don’t take it too seriously. We took some in Thailand (where we ate more than we cooked) and I kept the recipes, which I still refer to now and then.
So imagine my delight when I heard about a new cooking class that has opened in Singapore. I immediately met with Daniel Tan, the proprietor, to check it out. The Food Playground is merely seven months old and has already been rated #1 in TripAdvisor among Singapore’s attractions. It’s a small place that can accommodate 20 people and the chefs/teachers are not professional cooks but retirees or stay-at-home mums, which is a nice touch.
These are real people who cook real food, which is exactly what travellers want these days – to connect with local people and have authentic experiences. The cosy place specialises in Singaporean food, attracting tourists and has also proved a popular spot for corporate team-building events. A city renowned for its gastronomic wonders, this latest addition to its rich foodie scene is the perfect excuse for epicureans to plan their next visit.
I am now hatching a plan – to use the Food Playground for a cooking class using my Jamie’s Italian souvenirs from Cardiff. Anyone interested in trying angel hair pasta tossed lightly with tomato truffle sauce and a sprinkling of fresh herbs? I might even invite Chef Jason.