Cooking aid for Filipino helpers
Freelance writer publishes book that translates English and local recipes into Tagalog to help maids understand better
Ruining her French Endive salad dish while on holiday gave her the idea to write a bilingual cookbook.
It made her realise how difficult it must be for her two Filipino domestic helpers to understand cookbooks written in English in Singapore.
So she wrote one with recipes for Western and Singaporean dishes, written in English with Tagalog translations.
Freelance writer Rowena Michaels, 38, was on a three-week holiday with her husband and children in France three years ago when the only cookbook available in her rented apartment was written in French.
Her husband, Mr Simon Michaels, 38, is a partner at a law firm. The English couple have two children, Florence, eight, and Joseph, four. They are Singapore permanent residents.
Ms Michael, whose pen name is "Frog" because her friends think she has big eyes like a frog's, has a good command of French, but still did not get the recipe right.
She said: "It was a lightbulb moment for me.
"My thoughts instantly ran to my (domestic) helpers. How difficult it must be for them to cook using recipes from an English cookbook."
Ms Michaels, who lives in a semi-detached house, has two Filipino domestic helpers, Ms Maricon Espiritu, 29, and Ms Ginalyn Narag, 27.
Her book, called "A Helping Hand: Delicious Recipes in English and Tagalog", has recipes for Western dishes such as spaghetti bolognaise, chicken pie and triple-layered Victorian sponge cake as well as for Singaporean favourites such as fried rice, chilli chicken and roast pork belly.
The book was launched last Thursday and almost half of the 2,000 books from the first print have been sold. She is planning a reprint. This is Ms Michael's first book.
She runs a blog at http://changmoh.com/ and writes about food and lifestyle.
Ms Ludivina Lazo, 32, a Filipino domestic worker, cried upon receiving the cookbook from her employer, Madam Ong, 86, who chanced upon the book while browsing at Books Kinokuniya.
Said Ms Lazo: "Reading every recipe in my own language, it's easy for me to cook.
"Now I'm not worried about getting recipes wrong."
On her recipes, Ms Michaels said: "I eat a lot of local food so I am used to the flavours of Asian food. I'm an English girl in Singapore who feels local."
She moved to Singapore seven years ago with her family because her husband was offered a job in a local law firm.
It took her three years to finish writing the book.
To translate the English instructions to Tagalog, she hired a professional translator in Manila.
Mr Jolovan Wham, 36, executive director of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), a charity organisation that looks after the interests of migrant workers, felt the cookbook would help new Filipino helpers here who are unfamiliar with Western and local dishes.
Ms Michaels plans to have the cookbook in other languages, such as Bahasa Indonesia.
A Helping Hand: Delicious Recipes in English and Tagalog retails at $39.90 excluding GST.
It is available at Books Actually and Books Kinokuniya. For every book sold, $1 goes to HOME (Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics .