‘Neighbourhood chef’ wins award


Caring souls: Tan and Pearl with their Good Neighbour Awards. — The Straits Times/Asia News Network

SINGAPORE: For the past two years, photographer and food consultant Mike Tan, 48, has been sharing his food with his neighbours in Clementi Gateway.

Almost every night, he would post his planned ‘menu’ on a Facebook and WhatsApp group with his neighbours, receiving between two and 45 orders from them daily. He then prepares the home-cooked meals for collection, taking just a nominal fee in return.

He was among 14 recipients of the Good Neighbour Award, given out by National Development Minister Zaqy Mohamad at the Oasis Terraces Neighbourhood Centre in Punggol yesterday.

For Tan, who is married and lives in a three-room flat, it all started when he organised a first barbecue in March 2017 for his new neighbours.

“Everybody loved the food,” he said, adding that residents gathered for another such event three months later. It did not take long before neighbours asked if he could cook more to share with them.

“I don’t profit at all. When I cook, I like cooking a lot... If I were to eat it alone, I would be eating for days,” added Tan, whose dishes include pasta, grilled chicken and braised pork.

“I feel joy and satisfaction when people enjoy my food. Sometimes, they even ask me to cook for their own barbecues, baby showers and Christmas gatherings,” he said.

The Good Neighbour Award, launched in 2009 by the Housing Board, honours residents who have gone the extra mile for their community, showing exemplary acts of care and neighbourliness.

This year, there were a record number of 3,052 nominations. Two schools also received awards yesterday for improving the lives of others, and another 311 people will be recognised at community events.

“Everyone has a part to play in creating a better living environment and progressing together as a cohesive and resilient community,” said Zaqy at the event.

One of the other award recipients was housewife Pearl Pang, 56, who has been supporting teacher Denise Pang, 40, in her battle against cancer. The pair, who were neighbours in Toa Payoh, bonded over their dogs about five years ago.

When Ms Denise was battling cancer last year and went through eight surgeries in six months, she confided in Pearl, who would cook for her regularly.

“Even though I’ve shifted from Toa Payoh to Ang Mo Kio, she would drive down to give me soup that she cooked,” said Denise.

“She’s my guardian angel.” — The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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