When housewife Grace Ee received a call informing her that she had won a trip for two to the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, she was baffled.
Mrs Ee, 59, says, chuckling: "I called my husband to ask if he had taken part in a contest without telling me." "She sounded so tense," adds Mr Benjamin Ee. "I had seen the e-mail about the contest and responded at midnight. I didn't tell her because I forgot."
It turns out that the trip, from Nov 18 to 21, will be the perfect post-celebration of the couple's 36th wedding anniversary on Nov 15.
In the 1980s, they were students in Melbourne and have fond memories of dining at restaurants such as Vlado's Steakhouse.
Mr Ee, 59, a project manager at Resorts World Sentosa, adds: "We have been planning to go to Australia. We considered going next year for our 60th birthdays, but this prize is timely for our wedding anniversary."
The giveaway is organised by The Straits Times and it received 3,500 entries within a week. The trip, worth more than $10,000, includes a gourmet beach barbecue and a meet-and-greet with British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson.
This is the fifth edition of the gastronomy festival in the wine-producing region, which will feature masterclasses and wine-pairing dinners. The line-up of chefs includes more than 50 culinary personalities such as chef Joan Roca from Spain's El Celler de Can Roca, ranked No. 2 on The World's 50 Best Restaurants list; and Singapore's pastry chef Janice Wong, who runs her eponymous restaurant at the National Museum of Singapore, and 2am: dessertbar at Holland Village.
Mrs Ee is excited to meet chefs Wong and Lawson, whose sessions at the event are sold out. She says: "I'm glad we get to meet Nigella. I'll pack my cookbook for her to autograph."
She tells The Straits Times that she likes to replicate dishes that she has tried in restaurants. Recent cooking projects include braised beef and drunken chicken.
Mr Ee complements his wife's cooking with desserts and is looking forward to getting ideas from the chefs on plating up sweet treats.
"I like desserts served in shot glasses. For example, I can have coconut cream layered with pulut hitam. I love to play with colours and textures, and to look at food and eat in a different way."
• For more information, go to www.gourmetescape.com.au
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