We all eat and love to eat. What better way for busy families to enjoy time and conversation together than over food? The Braddell Heights Family Life Champion has brought the communal meal to newer heights (pun intended) and greater labour of love with the Men’s Cooking Interest Group.
Would it fly? Men and cooking? That was question Mr Tay Poey Kiang, Chairman of the Braddell Heights Family Life Champion, had when he started this in October 2008.
Now, almost four years later, the answer is yes. The number of registered members has grown to more than one hundred. Families have found new ways to express love and in the process become stronger. What’s more, dads have found like-minded dads to engage and have fun with.
James Cheong was first drawn by the all-men demographic which attracted him, as it seemed less daunting for men to learn cooking with other men. After attending his first session, he was impressed with the friendly atmosphere and willingness of the chef and other participating dads to share their knowledge.
Dads connecting with their families through cooking
When James first told his three children that he was going to learn cooking, they were amused at the idea. His youngest son, Benjamin, got excited and joined the Cooking Group with James.
Father and son have since conquered many culinary mountains as a team; even taking part in their first large-scale event last year, concocting mocktails at their community centre annual event in Sentosa.
James cooks for his family occasionally and that has helped to build better rapport with his family. It is “easy to start conversation with my children and my wife during the cooking process”. The children help to prepare the food and conversations would flow naturally.
“Cooking together has helped me discover that my children are attentive and helpful, as well as helped them know more about me.”
Simon Lim echoes this sentiment. As a father of six children with the eldest at twenty years of age and youngest at five, it is not always easy to have bonding activities with all the children together. Cooking on weekends offers this opportunity, especially when his children help in the kitchen.
“I believe as fathers, we are to reach out to our children first.” He feels that his children relate to him better after seeing the effort he puts in to connect with them.
A family cooking competition involving three generations was particularly memorable for Simon. He took part with his daughter and mother. They planned and practised a few times at home before the competition, with the help of the whole family. Although they did not win, this family project had left a lasting impression on all of them.
Randy Sng, Vice Chairman of the Braddell Heights Family Life Champion, has also found that cooking helps to create more common ground with his wife. In between his day job at IBM and many volunteering activities such as teaching Sudoku and IT literacy to senior citizens, Randy makes time for the Cooking Group every month.
Before joining the Group, Randy was not one whom you would find in the kitchen, no thanks to his experience as a part-time kitchen helper before he was enlisted in the army. Now, he helps his wife with the preparation work especially cutting and activities involving knives. He even goes shopping with his wife in the kitchen section and helps to select – no surprise – knives, kitchen utensils and appliances. His two daughters now see another facet of their active dad.
All things food and good
The idea of a men’s cooking group is a stroke of genius. Food is an essential part of life that can seed all sorts of activities for all demographics. Be it through events like “Cook for Love”, “My Dad the Chef” or a three-generation cooking competition, each of these events organised around cooking by Braddell Heights draws different members of the family in and gives cooking a different spin.
Some Singaporean families may still not overtly express love to one another, being more traditional and reserved, so cooking activities can provide a platform to facilitate communication and expression of love – all these while having fun and filling your stomach, why not?
We look forward to more innovative cooking-themed events from the Braddell Heights Men Cooking Interest Group or even others following suit: perhaps cooking for children, four-generation cooking or even cooking with my neighbour’s family. With such a gem of a concept, it is not surprising that the Group has garnered interest from the media.
Catch some of these dads in the Braddell Heights Community Centre kitchen in action on the United Neighbours Society variety show (邻里合作社) that premieres on Channel 8 on 10 September 2012.
To join the Men Cooking Interest Group, you can follow the instructions here.
About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.
First published on 24-09-2012
Categories: Dads' Stories