Maids enjoy a cook-off on their day off

From left: Ms Masyitoh, 38, Mrs Rodiyah Pardi, 48, and Mrs Istiqomah, 44, members of the champion team from Indonesia, introducing their dish, gado-gado salad, to judges at the first International Food Fair yesterday.
From left: Ms Masyitoh, 38, Mrs Rodiyah Pardi, 48, and Mrs Istiqomah, 44, members of the champion team from Indonesia, introducing their dish, gado-gado salad, to judges at the first International Food Fair yesterday.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Workers from five countries show their chops with national specialities at inaugural culinary competition

The five women were up as early as 4am yesterday to slice cucumbers, tau kwa and tempeh to prepare gado-gado salad.

The women from Indonesia, aged between 37 and 48, were preparing their entry for the inaugural International Food Fair, a culinary competition between foreign domestic workers from five countries.

Their efforts paid off as the dish emerged the winner out of 12 entries.

Ms Masyitoh, 38, who goes by one name, said: "We did not expect to win this at all, I was just looking forward to a nice Sunday with my friends. Cooking and later, line-dancing."

The entries were judged for presentation, creativity, and overall taste. And the dish submitted had to be a speciality of the respective countries.

One of the four judges, professional chef instructor Mazlan Boyamin, 54, said he was very impressed with the winning dish.

"The gado-gado can be a very simple dish, yet theirs was enriching and made for a complete meal," he said.

BONUS WIN

We did not expect to win this at all, I was just looking forward to a nice Sunday with my friends. Cooking and later, line-dancing.

MS MASYITOH, an Indonesia maid who was part of the winning team.

Mr Boyamin, who has been in the food industry for almost 20 years, added: "Many of them might cook only to suit their employers' tastes, but today they really showed their hidden talents and the general standard here was really high."

Organised by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast), the event at the Fast Befrienders Clubhouse in Bukit Merah attracted more than 300 people, including employers who turned up to support their helpers.

Ms Verdayne Nunis, 49, was at the event to support her employee from Sri Lanka.

"It's important for me to know and support her interests, because a happy worker is one who will work well," said the business manager at tech giant Microsoft.

Ms Nunis added that she liked her helper's cashew curry so much that she will be asking her to cook the dish at home.

Fast executive director William Chew said the food fair was an excellent platform for the workers to showcase their culinary talents, and promote the cuisines of their home country.

"We believe that food is always an excellent conduit for bonding between peoples of diverse backgrounds and culture," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2017, with the headline 'Maids enjoy a cook-off on their day off'. Print Edition | Subscribe