Lucky ST subscriber wins dinner cooked by Shisen Hanten’s head chef Chen Kentaro

Chef Chen serving appetiser to Mr and Mrs Quek Ser Wee (both above). He also gave them autographed copies of his cookbook, Chef's Family Recipes.
Chef Chen serving appetiser to Mr and Mrs Quek Ser Wee (both above). He also gave them autographed copies of his cookbook, Chef's Family Recipes.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Shisen Hanten's head chef Chen Kentaro and his team preparing dinner in the Queks' kitchen.
Shisen Hanten's head chef Chen Kentaro and his team preparing dinner in the Queks' kitchen.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Housewife Angele Quek has taken part in several Star (Straits Times Appreciates Readers) contests in the past year, but has never won.

So for the latest Star treat - an exclusive seven-course dinner cooked by Japanese chef Chen Kentaro - the Straits Times subscriber decided to try her luck again by submitting an entry using her husband's name.

This time, her entry was picked from 408 entries.

On Tuesday, Mrs Quek, 45, and her family enjoyed a sumptuous spread whipped up by chef Chen of Sichuan restaurant Shisen Hanten at their two-storey terrace home in Jalan Simpang Bedok.

The contest is part of an ongoing campaign to engage and reward Straits Times subscribers.

The Shisen Hanten contest, which ran from Jan 11 to 17, is the first of this year's line-up of giveaways.

Past Star treats have included Taylor Swift and Elton John concert tickets, trips to the Maldives and Perth, and the top prize, a Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Mrs Quek says: "I have never won anything when I used my own name, so I decided to use my husband's name this time. And surprisingly, I, or rather, my husband, won."

The Straits Times subscription is registered in both their names. To enter the contest, she answered a question about Shisen Hanten.

Apart from her husband, Mr Quek Ser Wee, 48, and their two sons, aged 14 and 11, the dinner guests included her mother-in-law, Madam Tan Li Zhu, who is in her 70s, her father-in-law, Mr Quek Siow Koon, 78, her sister-in-law Josie Quek, who is in her early 50s, and her 55-year-old husband Mike Chng.

Mrs Quek, who lives with her in-laws, says: "My mother-in-law is a very keen cook, but it can be quite hard to get her to eat out. So I'm very pleased I had the opportunity to bring the restaurant experience to her."

Straits Times food critic Wong Ah Yoke was also present at the dinner to assist chef Chen with queries, but the chef deftly handled them in fluent Mandarin.

Says Mr Quek, an engineer: "I was pleasantly surprised. I thought the chef was very friendly and down-to-earth. He mingled with the guests and helped create a very comfortable atmosphere."

The meal, worth $3,888, was often accompanied by laughter and applause. The guests' favourite dish was stir-fried Miyazaki wagyu beef with green peppers and black truffle.

Other dishes included foie gras chawanmushi with crab roe soup and kegani crab meat, stir-fried lobster with chilli sauce, and the chef's signature dish, Chen's Mapo Doufu.

For chef Chen, 36, cooking in a Singapore home is among his best experiences.

He has also cooked in homes in Japan, Australia and Hawaii.

The chef, who had two sous chefs from his restaurant at Mandarin Orchard Singapore to assist him at the Queks' house, says: "In Western countries, the culture is very different. But we are all Chinese here and it's very easy to get along with the guests.

"I have always liked to do these events, which are more personal, and I am very happy to introduce Shisen Hanten's signature dishes to guests in a homely setting."

Shisen Hanten is the Singapore outpost of a chain of restaurants in Japan that was started in the 1960s by his grandfather, Mr Chen Kenmin, regarded as the father of Sichuan cuisine in Japan.

This contest is part of the Singapore restaurant's second anniversary celebrations. It will run promotions till Feb 28. Diners who spend a minimum of $500 in one bill (maximum four diners) from now till Feb 28 will stand a chance to win an all-expenses-paid dinner party cooked by chef Chen for themselves and a party of seven. Two winners will be picked.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2016, with the headline 'Famed chef cooks for ST subscribers at their home'. Print Edition | Subscribe