Treats For The Soul

How To Live “A Normal Life” When We Can’t Go Out To Eat

Foodie Wendy Long shows how, and does a lot of good while at it.

How To Live “A Normal Life” When We Can’t Go Out To Eat
Wendy Long

From her troop of hairstylists, manicurist and facial therapists to the concierge team at her condominium, Wendy Long’s friends have been receiving her foodie treats as her way of showing appreciation and to share positivity. This was even before the circuit breaker came about. When friends were issued the stay-home notice, the real estate and equities investor sent them care packages and “quarantine cakes”. They included Lucia Cakes’ brownies and cakes with quirky messages such as “Wash your hands” and “Netflix & cake” — they were the perfectly uplifting desserts for her to send out to friends.

Since she can’t cook, Long loves dining out often. Among her favourite haunts is the Singapore sibling of Michelin-starred Frantzén, restaurant Zén. So when the restaurant first launched its new takeaway menu, the general manager rang Long up and she decided to show her support by placing an order immediately. She also started a Moses basket “relay” with her good friend and neighbour by sending her treats and a bottle of wine from Zén, after which her friend would send back another basket of treats, until they can visit the restaurant together again.

“Dining out, as often as I do, is more than just about the food. It’s the whole experience you have with the place and the rapport you have with the chef and the team. So I see this as more than just about ordering food, but about being supportive and appreciative towards something that holds a special place in our memories.” Other restaurants close to Long’s heart include Hashida Sushi Singapore, Gunther’s, Odette, Ushidoki and Luke’s.

It’s hardly a surprise then that as soon as she found out about MyTreat Sg through a food influencer she follows on Instagram, she started posting on its e-template, tagging all her treats to friends and family, making her one of its most avid users.

If you haven’t already seen it floating on your friends’ Instagram stories, MyTreat Sg is a voluntary initiative encouraging people to send food to their loved ones, and specify what food they ordered from where, for who, and why on an e-template. Long, for instance, has also been ordering Asian food for her parents, and writing personal notes to them on Instagram.

These little Insta-notes of love and appreciation are the brainchild of food writer and private kitchen FatFuku’s chef Annette Tan, who worked with public relations professional Lyla Lin — they got introduced as Lin initiated the #SaveFnBSg campaign with equal passion.

Long waves us off, telling us it’s not just about treating others, sharing love and helping the F&B industry stay afloat.

“I find it therapeutic. In a way, giving back is a channel for me to deal with all the disruptions going on right now. Since I’ve always loved checking out restaurants, ordering in and sending treats have kept a sense of familiarity and normality for me in these virulent times! I think that’s important for staying sane.”

She also uses this as an opportunity to discover new food for herself and others. The newly launched Sri Lankan restaurant Kotuwa by Cloudstreet — chef Rishi Naleendra’s latest venture after Michelin-starred Cheek Bistro and Cloudstreet — is her latest pick for her parents. She has also started sending frozen food as “MyTreats”, such as Cure’s frozen pies, as she finds them more “handy” during this circuit breaker period.

Tan shares how during her interviews with chefs earlier this year, every one of them spoke about how their restaurants were so close to going belly-up. Restaurants work on a very small profit margin, with a cash flow that typically lasts two months. “All of them were looking at their lives’ work going up in smoke because of something beyond their control. This really saddened me, especially because I think of them as my friends.”

From a simple social media campaign, MyTreat Sg has since given rise to a sister charity project christened OurTreat Sg. Tan was inspired by her friend, orthopaedic surgeon Mizan Marican, who had been buying treats for his colleagues working in the isolation wards and emergency department at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH). So she created the spin-off for people to send love and gratitude in the form of food to the frontline workers fighting this pandemic.

The response has been amazing — within a day, we raised $3,500 from a single Instagram post. In less than two weeks since we started OurTreat Sg, we’ve raised over $11,000. So far, we’ve had chef Willin Low from Relish send burgers and fries to healthcare workers in SGH; chef Sun Kim from Meta delivered food on our second drop; and Beng Who Cooks, a stall in Hong Lim Food Centre with two youngsters who, quite famously now, give free meals to anyone who needs them.”

Long is as ardently supportive of this movement, donating both money to the cause and time to post on this to help spread awareness. “Not everyone has the privilege to work from home. The frontline healthcare staff are putting themselves at risk and sacrificing precious time with their own love ones just so we can stay safe.”

If you ask us, we reckon these acts of humanity keep us going and give us greater purpose. After all, isn’t it human nature to strive on love and that fuzzy feeling in the stomach — from all that caring and sharing and those delicious food as well?

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