Singapore

Teen chef shares love of cooking by preparing meals for workers

While most kids his age are busy on social media, 16-year-old Rohan Nair Sureash often thinks about food, like wondering if the grilled asparagus he is making will complement the broccoli sauce.

At 13, he started as a weekend chef cooking lunch for his parents at home and occasionally dinner for his friends.

In August this year, Rohan decided to take his love for cooking a step further. He launched his own website (rohanschefology.com) and an Instagram page of the same name offering a home-based fine dining experience, and decided that part of his earnings would go towards cooking nutritious meals for migrant workers.

The student from United World College of South East Asia cooked a meal for 40 migrant workers on Nov 16, featuring a menu of chicken curry, dhal, stir-fried potatoes and peas, rice, papadum, and garlic pickles.

Preparations started a day earlier when he went to Little India with his mother to buy ingredients for the meal.

"Some shopkeepers realised I was buying large quantities of potatoes and chicken; they were curious and asked me what I was buying them for," said Rohan, a self-taught cook.

When he shared his plan to cook for the workers, they gave him a discount.

"People were naturally supportive," he said.

"It was not as hectic and rushed as I imagined it to be. My parents and helper assisted with the cutting of the vegetables.

"I made the chicken curry in three batches, dhal in a whole batch and potatoes and peas in four batches just so the quality of the food won't be compromised."

Apart from the help he got from his family, he also roped in some friends from school to help with the food distribution.

"It was very heartening to see them enjoy the food. After the meal, one of them told me that it had been a really long time since he ate on a banana leaf. That felt nice."

Many of them were surprised that Rohan was only 16.

"He's so young and cooked for so many of us. Usually people just distribute packed food to us but he cooked, distributed the food and also spent time with us. We were very happy," said Mr Shanmugarahu, a worker from Tamil Nadu, India.

The Stockholm-born teenager wants to organise a similar meal session when he earns enough money.

Rohan said: "I don't want this to be a one-time event. I want to do it every four to six months if possible. It's rewarding and humbling. I hope to do the same for underprivileged children or the elderly."

COMMUNITY ISSUES