ONE throws elaborate Christmas dinners. Another cooks once a year when she's on family vacation. And the third is a 'use it or lose it' chef who believes in cooking simply and often. These three very successful women have three different takes on cooking.
Laura Hwang is a former banker and current president of the International Women's Forum (IWF) in Singapore, while Tracey Woon is a managing director of Citibank, and Dorothy Chan is executive director of Far East Organization.
All three are members of the International Women's Forum, which organised a fund-raising dinner for the Women's Initiative for Ageing Successfully (WINGS) on Wednesday.
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was guest of honour at the dinner, which raised $400,000 for the older women's centre in Bishan.
The Fullerton Hotel dinner also celebrated the IWF's 10th anniversary here.
Guests at the five-course meal were treated to confit of salmon in lime oil, pan-seared scallops in citrus nage, lamb rump with herb crust and mushroom ragout, all prepared by award-winning chefs from the Singapore Chefs Association.
While their gala meal may have been fancy, Ms Hwang, Ms Woon and Ms Chan miss simple, home-cooked food most when they travel on business.
'Nothing beats the fragrance of a bowl of steamed rice or the zing of soy and chilli,' says Ms Hwang.
She cooks only during vacation
CITIBANK managing director Tracey Woon only cooks for three weeks a year, when her family goes on a skiing trip. But it's then that she feels closest to her husband and three children. 'That's the time I look forward to cooking. It's about being with my family, and it's when I have the undivided attention and appreciation of my family and kids,' she says. 'It's also the only time my kids actually realise that Mummy can cook,' she quips.
The athletic family - both Ms Woon and her husband, Woon Wai Phang, are former national squash players - holidays each winter at the Park City ski resort in Utah. 'They all expect me to have hot food ready when we come back from a day of skiing and it's -16C outside,' she says.
Before the trip, Ms Woon packs a box of local ingredients like sesame oil, hae bee (dried shrimp), chilli sauce and even rice, and sends it to their Park City timeshare house. When they're there, she prepares local dishes like fried rice and noodles, as well as single-dish meals like chicken macaroni and lasagne.
Ms Woon only learnt to cook after she got married. 'Having come from a household that always had maids, I never actually had to do it until I actually had my own household.' Now, her two daughters and a son have picked up some culinary skills from their university stints in the United States, and are helping out in the kitchen.
The Woon family makes a point of eating together every Tuesday, Sunday and Thursday, at home or out. When they eat out, Italian restaurants like Buko Nero are a family favourite, while Ms Woon also likes Crystal Jade dim sum and Hokkien mee at Chomp Chomp food centre. Ultimately, she says: 'Food is really an excuse to get together as a family. We're very fortunate that our kids are all very close to each other and very close to us.'