SINGAPORE: On my last trip to Singapore, I had lunch at Vasunthara Ramasamy’s home. We had previously connected through our shared love of food on Instagram before my move to Melbourne, when she was still working as a teacher.
Five years later, I was at her table, reconnecting over thosai and chutneys, marvelling that she was able to leave her 9-to-5 job and run her private dining experience, Cutlery Optional, full-time.
Ramasamy’s story is just one of many success stories of home cooks turning their passion for cooking into their main source of income. Prices at these coveted dinners can go up to S$150 (US$110) per head, yet as evidenced by the long waitlists - up to a year for more popular kitchens - people in Singapore are more than willing to pay.
Why is home-cooked food served up in a domestic setting so irresistible to Singaporeans, who are known for being notoriously price-sensitive? For the same price, why not eat at a restaurant instead?
A UNIQUE DINING EXPERIENCE
Part of the draw is, quite simply, that the food that one gets at these experiences is different from what you may find at restaurants.
A common misconception is that restaurant cooking is always vastly superior to home cooking. While the skills of restaurant chefs are often impressive, cooking in restaurants has its own limitations.
When I used to work as a restaurant cook, because of the sheer volume of food we were preparing each day, shallots and garlic would be ordered in their pre-peeled state. Also, instead of having to soak dried chillies and blend them painstakingly, we often used store-...