The New Paper
June 15, 2016
All parents always want the best for their children.
For actor and host Ben Yeo, that includes feeding them the best, and by that, he means home-cooked meals.
He cooks for his family, particularly his two young sons, Javier, seven, and Jarius, four, whenever his hectic work schedule allows.
But because of growing work commitments, Yeo, 38, who is starring in Channel 8 drama Peace And Prosperity, which airs on weekdays at 7.30pm, is unable to cook every day.
So the busy dad, who is a co-owner of three Tenderfresh Classic eateries, strives to cook on weekends.
"I'll make simple dishes. We don't need any elaborate meals," he told M.
"Also, my kitchen is so small. It doesn't allow me to make anything fancy."
He claims he is the main chef because he is "still the best cook in the house".
"I'm the head chef, as my wife will still ask me how to cook certain things," said Yeo while laughing.
As much as he would love to make bento sets for his elder son to eat during recess, he regrets he has not done so as "making cute bento takes time".
"So my wife packs things like sandwiches... as he eats very slowly.
"Recess time is so short, and being a boy, he'd want to go play instead of eat. So packing something for him means he doesn't need to spend time queueing for food."
The family now have dinner at his in-laws' place as the boys are looked after by their maternal grandmother after school.
"My sons love soup, so I'd prepare (Chinese pork rib soup with vegetables) and add tofu and other things," said the culinary arts graduate from hospitality institute Shatec.
"There's no need for any seasoning as all the flavours come from the onions, carrots, meat... all natural."
His sons also love pasta and Japanese food, and because Yeo enjoys making fusion cuisine, his children are open to "experiments".
Yeo said that his boys, like many children, are fussy with food, but he makes sure they give new things a try.
"I always insist they must have an open mind. Try everything. They can spit it out if they don't like it but they must try."
Yeo also ensures his children have a balanced diet.
He loves it when they help him in the kitchen and he hopes more fathers will take up cooking.
"I believe it helps build a bond between parent and child," said Yeo, who published a cookbook, Cooking For Kids, three years ago.
"Also, cooking is a life skill that everyone needs. So they will need to learn how to cook, even if it's just making instant noodles or cooking eggs."
He said he is surprised that many adults do not know how to cook.
"Some don't even know how to turn on the stove," said Yeo, who met such celebrities while hosting the variety show Touch-Screen Cuisine, which is showing every Wednesday at 8pm on Channel 8.
He may rule the kitchen in his household, but he is forbidden to cook for his parents as his mother will not touch his food.
"We gather at my parents' place every Father's Day for a meal. My mum always says my cooking is too salty.
"I don't agree with her, so I won't change how I cook to adapt to her taste buds," he said.
"I don't think I'm a cooler dad because I cook for (my kids), but I hope they will always remember that their father cooked for them during their childhood."
Go to the next page to read about Andre Hoeden.
Hoeden's multicultural kitchen
Andre Hoeden, 41, credits his parents for inspiring him to step into the kitchen.
His dad, said the DJ and executive producer of ONE FM's #1 Breakfast Show on ONE FM 91.3, is the best "Eurasian chef, or King of Curries to him" and a "true inspiration in the kitchen".
"My mum is fantastic with her soups and salads," added the father of three children - Sarah, seven, Matt, four, and Russell, one.
Hoeden, who works weekday shifts from 6am to 10am, said he cooked the most during his university days.
His speciality then? Curry chicken. Now, his signature dish is steak.
"My kids enjoy different things. Sarah loves her seafood, Matt loves his fried chicken and we're still trying to discover Russell's favourite."
Hoeden enjoys juicing, as well as baking chocolate cakes and sugee cakes with his children and his wife, Jennifer, every two weeks.
Hoeden has also been trying to make vegan dishes, which have turned out "surprisingly delicious".
"You should try my chilli beans."
Hoeden said he is trying to eat more healthily now as "I want to stick around to see my kids grow up".
He is also conscious of his children's diet and describes himself as the "kind of parent who doesn't like them eating processed foods".
"But I know they get away with it when I'm not around. The grandparents are sneaky like that."
A perfect Father's Day meal, said Hoeden, is "fish head curry or fish head steamboat, and durian".
Hoeden is looking to learn how to prepare Eurasian food, but it will take practice.
"My wife will never let me forget the time I planned to make a broccoli and cheese dish, but forgot to parboil the broccoli first and stuffed the whole thing in the oven.
"It was a raw disaster all right."
Go to the next page to read about Benjamin Heng.
Benjamin Heng is the go-to guy when his family members plan a barbecue.
"They usually ask me to help them prepare," said the 39-year-old Fly Entertainment artist.
"Sometimes it can be for 50 people with a six- to eight-course meal… with dessert."
Cooking at home is not as elaborate though.
Heng - who will be seen next on Channel 8 drama The Dream Job, premiering on June 27 at 9pm - steers towards Western cuisine such as steak and his daughter Sophie's favourite dish, penne bolognese.
As the seven-year-old is "a fussy eater who hates vegetables", Heng must consult his wife and child to plan the menu before shopping for groceries together.
The actor-host picked up cooking during his student days when he was 17 and working part-time in a restaurant kitchen.
"I started from scratch and worked my way up to managing the kitchen over the years."
Because of work, Heng now cooks for his family twice a month.
He seeks to do so more frequently after he finishes filming eight-part series Then And Now: A Look At Former SAF Camps.
It features stories of old Singapore Armed Forces sites and how these places are getting a new lease of life.
It airs on June 23 on the cyberpioneerTV YouTube channel.
Heng, who hopes for a good steak on Father's Day, does not mind taking over the "traditional" role of cooking for the family from his wife.
"I've been cooking for more than half my life," he said.
"More dads should definitely be in the kitchen since women these days can't cook.
"After all, we're better cooks!"
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