SINGAPORE – The five women were up as early as 4am on Sunday (Nov 19) to slice cucumbers, tau kua and tempeh to prepare gado-gado, a kind of salad.

The women from Indonesia, aged between 37 and 48, were getting ready their entry for the inaugural International Food Fair, a culinary competition between between foreign domestic workers from five different countries.

Their efforts paid off as the dish emerged winners out of 12 entries.

Ms Masyitoh, 38, who goes by one name, said: “We did not expect to win this at all, I was just looking forward to a nice Sunday with my friends. Cooking and later, line-dancing.”

The entries were judged for presentation, creativity, and overall taste. The dish submitted has to be a specialty of the respective countries.

One of the four judges, professional chef instructor Mazlan Boyamin, 54, said he was very impressed with the winning dish.

“The gado-gado can be a very simple dish, yet theirs was enriching and made for a complete meal,” he said.

(From left) Ms Masyitoh, 38, Mrs Rodiyah Pardi, 48, and Mrs Istiqomah, 44, whose Gado-gado won the top prize at FAST’s first International Food Fair, on Nov 19, 2017. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Mr Boyamin, who has been in the industry for almost 20 years, added: “Many of them might cook only to suit their employers’ tastes, but today they really showed their hidden talents and the general standard here was really high.”

Organised by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast), the event at the Fast Befriender Clubhouse in Bukit Merah attracted more than 300 people, including employers who turned up to support their workers.

Ms Verdayne Nunis, 49, was at the event to support her employee from Sri Lanka.

“It’s important for me to know and support her interests, because a happy worker is one that that will work well,” said the business manager at tech giant Microsoft.

She added that she liked her worker’s cashew curry so much that she will be asking her to cook the dish at home.

Fast executive director William Chew said the food fair was an excellent platform for the workers to showcase their culinary talents, and promote the cuisines of their home country.

“We believe that food is always an excellent conduit for bonding between peoples of diverse backgrounds and culture,” he said.

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