Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yellow Ribbon Cooking Competition 2009 (Finals) - WW

Stuffed Chicken Thigh

The dishes that were being brought in looked yummy, but I did not get a chance to taste them. These scrumptious dishes were prepared in a prison kitchen ..... by inmates.

They were the 12 finalists from both the mens' and womens' prisons taking part in the Yellow Ribbon Cooking Competition 2009 held in Changi Prison Cluster A on 26th May. The competition was a challenge to these participants because each team was given a set of predetermined ingredients and basic kitchen equipment to work with.

Under the watchful eyes of prison officers present in the kitchen, the participants went about their tasks. Knives and even vegetable peelers were chained to a kitchen bench. One team had to improvise a heart-shaped mould from aluminium foil. They had to produce the dishes within a time limit.

pan seared Salmon

The dishes presented not only earned the praises of the judges but captured the hearts of the invited guests and prison officers. I was amazed when I was told some of the participants had little cooking experience and only went through 3 cooking lessons with SHATEC Institute's trainers. And the women particpants had no kitchen in their prison to practise for this competition.

Judges : (L to R) Catan Tan, Tony Khoo, Paolo Zambrano,Matthew Yim

The dishes were judged by 4 chefs - Tony Khoo (Executive Chef, Marina Mandarin), Paolo Zambrano (Executive Sous Chef, SATS Catering), Matthew Yim (Vice Principal, SHATEC Institute) and Catan Tan (SHATEC Institute).

The champion team is from Khalsa Crescent Prison. Besides cash, the winners will be given an opportunity to cook their winning dishes for their families. I hope to be invited for this special occasion. There would be touching moments.

Chef Tony Khoo was surprised at the particpants' high level of creativity despite the constraints of the prison kitchen. He was impressed with the enthusiasm and good working attitude of the participants. He would be more willing to hire ex-offenders if they display such qualities.

Vice Principal of SHATEC Institute, Chef Matthew Yim was certainly proud of these participants. They show a willingness to learn and take in criticisms. It was a satisfying and rewarding experience for his school to support such a meaningful project.

ECL with Matthew Wee (Head, Public Affairs, Singapore Prison Service)

I was invited to this event by Singapore Prison Service.

For security reasons, my personal particulars was submitted prior to attending the event. I was allowed to carry only a notebook and a pen, all my belongings were left in a locker at the Prison Link Centre.

I went through barricade after barricade, security was so tight within the prison compound. It was not easy for EastCoastLife to go to jail. :P Surprisingly, I was getting more excited as each auto gate closed behind me. :D

I was warmly welcomed by Matthew Wee (Head, Public Affairs), the officers of SPS and SCORE (Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprise).

Lunch was catered from SCORE's Catering & Central Kitchen. The dishes are cooked by inmates. I would recommend its really yummy Brownie and mini custard puff!

******************** ooo OOO 000 ********************

More than 11,000 ex-offenders complete their sentences and are released from our prisons and drug rehabilitation centres (DRCs) annually. The Yellow Ribbon Project helps the reformed inmates put their past behind them, especially when they try their level best at home, at work and in the community.

Photos - courtesy of Singapore Prison Service

First Commenter - Ayie


  1. That's a good competition. The inmates definitely had fun and felt free for that while making their masterpieces. You're lucky to be invited to these kind of events.


  2. Haha, how come you always get to attend such meaningful events? :)


    Vicissitudes of Life

  3. All of that looks like a good meal. You have some great adventures.

  4. Each has gifts of their own, and I hope one day, these inmates, when released can be given the chance to shine.

  5. This is something good. Developing skills in the inmates that will serve them well.

  6. and hopefully the skills they learn in the prison will help them when they get out and veer them out from doing anything outside the law.

  7. and I wouldn't say no to those yummy looking food. No wonder ECL look so happy. :D

  8. Ayie,
    I think this competition is a fabulous idea, it is a good way for the inmates to discover their hidden talents and let their creativity juices flow.

    The positive response has given the participants confidence.

  9. Shu Fen,
    I thick-skinned, begged to be invited. haha....

  10. Sandy,
    I had a special lunch at the prison, cooked by inmates. And the food is delicious, especially the desserts.

  11. oceanskies,
    The winners and other inmates should continue to persevere towards their interests and goals.

    With the support and help they are getting from the authorities and community, they have a better chance at life.

  12. Mei Teng,
    By learning a skill, they would have a better chance of earning a living, look after their family and also give back to the society.

    We hope they do not go back to their old ways.

  13. lina,
    The food is indeed yum yum. :)

    This just goes to show that, 'Where there's a will, there's a way'. If they are willing to change over a new leaf, they will be able to get help from various agencies, individuals and even companies.

  14. Mmmm looks yummy! It's nice to know that the ex offenders are given a a chance to let them prove themselves that they have changed.

  15. Hello Thanks for sharing.

    I find something interesting as well:

  16. Wow they are very talented! The food presentation looks so professional!

  17. It's good that the inmates have some skills (一技之长) so that they can have something to do when they are released.

  18. I actually look at this event from another angle

    Instead of seeing all the officer day in day out, now they get to see someone whom they can look up to --> ECL

    It give them a good example as to how they should be leading their life, after their release

  19. I love the dishes but I wish it didn't have to go to that extent of chaining even kitchen utensils.

  20. MommaWannabe,
    The dishes look good enough to be served in a Western restaurant. The judges said the food tasted good.

    Many of the inmates do try hard to re-integrate into the society.

  21. Doreen,
    They are promising candidates. The judges are impressed. I hope they would consider cooking as a career. :)

  22. day-dreamer,
    The exposure to a new career and a chance to pick up cooking skills would probably set them thinking seriously about their future and their families. It will keep them away from crimes or drugs.

  23. yenjai,

    They don't even want to know who's this Aunty?! haha....

    I hope they would take up blogging. To write about their life and probably they could look back and reflect on their past.

  24. JL,
    For security reasons, the utensils and equipment have to be chained. You will be amazed how tight the security is.

    If so much as a needle is brought in, the whole prison could be turned upside-down to search for it!

  25. The next step, if only the community will be more willing to accept these inmates :)

  26. hope this initiative will help those ex-convicts find their place in society.

  27. What a unique event!
    You are lucky to witness all these.

  28. That sounds like a great program and competition.

  29. I think this is an excellent program and the food does look delicious.

  30. That's a great competition. It's good that there are programs like this for inmates. :) All those foods are making me hungry!

  31. This is interesting! Good idea to have such a competition among the inmates!

  32. Wow! So tight security! Eh how come that terrorist can escape one? : )

  33. You didn't get to taste the food? That's a pity! Otherwise you can judge whether it's really good! : )

  34. Hey ECL.
    Cooking is the best way to reform societal strays (for a politically correct term). I've witnessed how many delinquents in UK are transformed into top chefs in the kitchen.

    There's no better to teach Discipline than in a kitchen. I hope more Yellow Ribbon chefs are given a chance to shine! :)

  35. wow..the presentation on the food was nice!!

  36. multiple cheers for multiple chances and vocation trainings while serving time! It's the holidays!

  37. Cute picture of you ECL and the food looked amazing!! Yum

  38. Hi ECL, I say, it is an honor to be invited to this competition. I agree with the rehabilitation program. And I hope they can easily integrate in the society after serving the sentence.

  39. That looks yummy...Id try it:) Happy WW and thanks for stopping by. Sorry Im a little late.

  40. I hope the dishes taste as delicious as how they look.

    What a brilliant project with a superb set of judges.


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  42. wow, another interesting event! the dishes are beautifully presented even with knives chained to the kitchen bench!:D

  43. How interesting. Seems like a good program, helping the prisoners with their rehabilitation, and interaction with the community.

    Nice blog :)

  44. Wow, what an event to attend! You really get around those days. This was a yummy one, but would have made me hungry!!!! *giggles*

    Now on to something else but still fun:

    We want to invite YOU ALL to an international cocktail party meme that soon will start: Drinks Round the World.

    It's taking place the 1st every month where we all post text and/or photo about a drink we have been or are experiencing somewhere around the world.

    EVERYBODY is welcome, so bring all your party animals (friends) too, the more the merrier!

    Cheers ;-)

  45. No wonder could not see you in your optical shop on Thursday lah!

  46. Hi ECL,

    It is a friday again :) Dropping by figuratively and literally hehehe :) Keep cool always and enjoy the weekend :) xoxo

    I have to say though that salmon looks absolutely delish. I might need more than one serving hehehe :) and what is up with the Prison Service heheh sometimes I think you are an undercover spy ecl heheheh :) xoxo

  47. The dishes are well presented and look delicious.

    That's a good start for the society to give a second chance to ex-offenders.

  48. tigerfish and I peeped into ur shop on thu... :D

    So u were enjoying those yummy snacks when we passed by ur shop. :)