25 Jul A nostalgic National Day feature

by Bridgette

I’m not one to boast about our work but I really really liked an article (“A Taste of the Past”) that we did for the July/August issue of Challenge magazine because it’s not just beautifully art directed and shot, it’s also overflowing with heart.

When the Tuber team was brainstorming for the issue’s line up of articles, we wondered how we could have a National Day lifestyle feature without the usual red/white food features (Challenge readers lurrrve their food stories FYI). There was also the added challenge (pardon the pun) of making the article relevant to the Public Service – or risk looking like a generic lifestyle spread from another magazine.

Eventually, we decided, why not ask some homegrown chefs for their favourite childhood memories with some relation to public service? We were lucky to find four obliging chefs, who so generously shared their poignant childhood memories. Not only did they welcome us into their kitchens, they also shared their recipes with readers. Malcolm from Candlenut was even inspired by our request to start serving his dish at his restaurant.

My favourite memory is Chef Willin’s recollection of biting his lips while collecting his passport and how his mother comforted him with a slice of rock melon after. It was the first time the boy had tasted rock melon. Based on this sweet and salty memory of the rock melon mixed with dried blood, Chef Willin created a melon sorbet with swirls of red strawberry and salty ume.

Once the chefs told Maziah what they were cooking, she sprung into action to coordinate the photoshoot with Fei, our art director and photographer John Heng, a long-time collaborator. Together, the team brainstormed ways of styling the shoot before Fei went place to place to source for the items that would transport readers back to the chefs’ childhood years (old passports, liquid paper, vintage glasses, marbles, enamel plates and even an old school spoon).

Together, the little touches (including a photo of Chef Benny when he was a boy) and the superb photography (by Canon’s Food Photographer of the Year no less!) helped to tell the chefs’ stories visually, while Maziah and I attempted to do the same in words.

At the risk of sounding egomaniacal, I dare say you won’t find a similar article out there that does the same. If you do, email me and coffee’s on me!

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Steamed pork with prawn paste by Chef Benny of Eighteen Chefs.