Us dressed in red and white!

Time flies and it is Week 7 of Session C already. That means finals are coming up real soon, next week, but more importantly, what falls on this week is Aug 9, Singapore’s National Day! Most of the time back in Singapore, I’m guessing that most of us don’t really celebrate it but it’s a different story when you are far from home. We planned a Singaporean themed dinner to celebrate Singapore’s 54th.

Discussions started early on July 14, when we emailed the head chef, Todd, to suggest our ideas. The people in IHouse are really friendly and receptive and we got a reply the very next day. With the mention of Singapore, as surprising as it may seem, the first thing they think of is Crazy Rich Asians, or the guy who beat Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly, Joseph Schooling!

Our poster

Back to the topic, dining hall’s basic format for meals is to have:

  • 1 Soup
  • 1 Salad
  • 1 Starch
  • 2-3 Meat based proteins
  • 1 Vegetarian entrée
  • 2 Vegetable sides
  • 1 Dessert

We pooled our ideas and recipes and shared it with Chef. Along the way, there were many email exchanges with various people and revisions to the menu as some were not feasible. For instance, for the meat, we chose sweet & sour pork and cereal prawns. However, for multiple reasons including health balance and logistics, we could only have one fried entrée per meal. As much as we think that the dining hall food may be quite salty or oily at times, it’s nice to know that they do indeed care about our health!

Behind the scenes: Kitchen

Alongside with Chef, we worked with the dining hall supervisors, Maureen and Jonathan. Maureen was the main contact for the decorations. She was full of ideas and excitement for our Singaporean themed dinner. Before we even met her, she had already printed A3 sizes of Singapore photos. She was a great help in gathering all the materials and was so meticulous, even the food tags had our national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim on it! Jonathan was the supervisor for the dinner itself and helped the dinner to run smoothly.

On the day itself, there was a bit of a miscommunication. The chefs started preparing for the dinner at 12.30pm, earlier than the closing time for lunch. Usually, when people hosted themed dinners, they helped with simple tasks such as cutting fruit and serving. However, we arrived late at 2pm and by then, help was not required. But, we still managed to assist in tasting the food and made some suggestions like less vinegar for the Bak Chor Mee.

It was pretty interesting to see the dynamics of the kitchen. To enter, long pants and covered shoes are required. One also has to don an apron and hair net, even for the guys! It was quite a funny sight. In the kitchen, each chef had a printed set of instructions pasted onto a shelf which they followed.

Meanwhile in the dining hall, we started doing up the decorations, writing fun facts about Singapore and creating a music playlist for playing later on.

Preparing the decorations for the dinner

Alas, dining hall opened for dinner at 5.30pm. Our final menu was:

  1. Bak Kut Teh
  2. Tropical Fruits (watermelon, mango & pineapple)
  3. Sweet & Sour Pork
  4. Butter Prawn
  5. Satay Chicken
  6. Tofu Goreng
  7. Chap Chye
  8. Bak Chor Mee

A big thank you to all who helped make this dinner possible and we were all glad to have a taste of home on National Day. Happy 54th Singapore!

P.S. Tips for future events! Other than holding a themed meal, you can host your own coffee hour on Wednesday night from 9-10pm, budget is 300USD. It is always good to bring some gifts or snacks from Singapore to give away. We wrote cards and gave some Milo nuggets and powder. They were very happy with our little surprise!

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