Eating and being merry

A NEIGHBOURHOOD that cooks together, stays together. At GoodLife! Makan, a community kitchen launched by Montfort Care at Block 52 Marine Terrace, some 50 seniors who live alone in the neighbourhood come together to prepare meals and at the same time get a chance to chat with each other over makan (enjoying a meal). And the food is scrumptious and of course made the healthy way – from dishes like mixed rice (rice, meat, vegetables and soup) to local favourites like curry and lontong. Besides the food, the seniors play games and enjoy art classes conducted by volunteers too.

The Successful Ageing Singapore team dropped by one morning and discovered the secret recipe that keeps these seniors going back every day.…

A generous scoop of laughter and fun

Every Monday to Friday (the centre’s closed on weekends and public holidays), from 9am to 5pm, you will find Ruby Goh at the GoodLife! Makan kitchen. Affectionately known as Aunty Ruby, the 78-year-old said, “Staying at home can be very dull. I’m very happy when I come here! I find that I laugh and have more fun.”

The cheerful senior with twinkling eyes added: “I enjoy cooking and my favourite dish to prepare is ayam buah keluak, although it is a lot of work. I love cooking and helping out here. I also enjoy the art classes and games!” 

women cooking
Ladle of love: Aunty Ruby’s favourite dish to prepare is the ayam buah keluak – chicken braised in tamarind gravy with buah keluak nuts.

Spoonfuls of friendship

For 70-year-old Koh Chat Ngi, the ties that bind are in the kitchen. The affable senior drops by the community kitchen whenever he has pockets of free time, usually for two to three hours a day. He cooks rice, vegetables and soup, and volunteers to help his neighbours when needed.

“I have six close friends here and we enjoy talking to each other, playing games and reading the newspapers. We make cakes and bread together... when there are birthdays, some of us will buy flour and bake cakes together,” Uncle Koh said with a smile.

uncle cooking
A spoonful of home-made soup, anyone? Uncle Koh told us that when the Marine Terrace market and food centre nearby was under renovation for three months in 2016, he and his friends prepared breakfast at 7am daily to make sure  everyone was well-fed.

A dash of variety

Jason Phuah loves how much GoodLife! Makan has added to his life. The 62-year-old said, “I’ve made some good friends here... we travel together at times. Other than cooking and washing the dishes, we chat, do art and crafts, and play games like Monopoly. Without GoodLife! Makan, life would be boring as I live alone.”

He added with a big grin: “I didn’t cook as much before and even then it was simple food. I learnt how to cook here and now I cook anything I can!”  

cook thumbs up
Levelled up: Uncle Jason can now fry fish as well as cook meat and vegetables with confidence.

Many servings of piping hot food

For a foodie like 79-year-old Foong Keng Sung, food is of course one of the main draws of GoodLife! Makan. The cheerful and outspoken senior visits the community kitchen for two hours every day with the help of a staff (health carer) as he’s wheelchair-bound.

“I love spicy food; even if it’s very spicy I can tahan (handle it)! I know how to cook as I lived and worked in Hong Kong for more than 20 years before moving back to Singapore in 1997. I’m not fussy and I eat anything, though I have a preference for Cantonese food, which I find healthier,” Uncle Foong said.

“I enjoy the food here and playing card games. I also love it when we have small parties and celebrations, have fun together, laugh and joke. I’ve made many new friends here!”

uncle foong praise

Best!: Uncle Foong is all praises for GoodLife! Makan.

Take a peek into the GoodLife! Makan kitchen and see what’s cooking…  

For more information or if you wish to lend a helping hand at GoodLife! Makan, email or call 6702 0212.

Too many cooks don’t spoil the broth, in this instance! ;)

Article published on: 22/3/2017