Restaurant owners serve up free meals for hospital workers

Couple have dipped into their savings to provide over $18k worth of food since April

Mr Ben Tan and his wife Catherine Fong (both in black) delivering free bento sets to healthcare staff at Singapore General Hospital. The food (right) is prepared by staff at their modern Chinese fusion restaurant Le Fusion.
Mr Ben Tan and his wife Catherine Fong (both in black) delivering free bento sets to healthcare staff at Singapore General Hospital. The food is prepared by staff at their modern Chinese fusion restaurant Le Fusion.PHOTO: LE FUSION
Mr Ben Tan and his wife Catherine Fong (both in black) delivering free bento sets to healthcare staff at Singapore General Hospital. The food (right) is prepared by staff at their modern Chinese fusion restaurant Le Fusion.
Mr Ben Tan and his wife Catherine Fong delivering free bento sets to healthcare staff at Singapore General Hospital. The food (above) is prepared by staff at their modern Chinese fusion restaurant Le Fusion.PHOTO: LE FUSION

After a long day of caring for patients, nurse clinician Amy Ong is looking forward to a bowl of spicy kung pao chicken, salmon, vegetables and capsicum omelette.

What makes the meal better is that it is free.

Since April, a husband-and-wife team have provided 1,220 free bento sets to front-line healthcare workers at six hospitals that care for Covid-19 patients. They are KK Women's and Children's Hospital, the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, National University Hospital, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, Singapore General Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

"I am grateful to receive the bentos as they are comfort food for many of us working in an isolation facility. A hot meal during our break is a great morale booster and gives us the energy to continue providing the best care for our patients," said Ms Ong, who works at Singapore General Hospital and receives the food once or twice a week.

The bentos are provided by Mr Ben Tan, 57, and his wife, Madam Catherine Fong, 46. They run modern Chinese fusion restaurant Le Fusion at The Pier @ Robertson, which opened last November.

They were inspired to do their part in Singapore's battle against the Covid-19 pandemic after they learnt about their neighbour's tiring days working as a doctor.

Dipping into their own savings, Mr Tan and Madam Fong have served more than $18,300 worth of meals for healthcare workers.

Mr Tan said: "Catherine and I opened our restaurant to share joy through our food. As a chef, I feel that this is the best way to contribute."

Healthcare workers can choose from a variety of bento sets, each containing two protein sources, vegetables and eggs. Each set usually costs at least $15. The menu for the healthcare workers includes sweet and sour chicken, deep-fried fish with herb salt and pepper, stir-fried vegetables and tomato omelette.

Mr Tan and four employees at Le Fusion prepare the food while Madam Fong oversees the logistics for the deliveries, which range from weekly deliveries to ad hoc ones depending on the hospitals' needs.

Besides serving healthcare workers, Mr Tan and Madam Fong are also helping those in need.

They have sold 100 bento sets at a nominal fee to Local x Local, a sponsorship platform on Facebook.

The bentos are distributed to the Safe Sound Sleeping Place at Yio Chu Kang Chapel.

  • 1,220

    Number of free bento sets Mr Ben Tan and his wife Catherine Fong have given since April to front-line healthcare workers at six hospitals that care for Covid-19 patients.

 
 

The chapel's lead pastor Rick Toh said: "The food sponsorship programme has helped us provide lunch for the homeless and rough sleepers staying at our shelter. Our residents have given positive feedback on the quality of the food."

With safe distancing measures that ban dining in at restaurants still in force, Mr Tan and Madam Fong are struggling to keep their new business afloat.

Still, they will continue to donate meals for as long as they can.

Said Madam Fong: "The circuit breaker may be over but healthcare workers are still working hard to ensure our safety. We hope to continue helping them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2020, with the headline 'Restaurant owners serve up free meals for hospital workers'. Subscribe