26.1 C
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Home Blog

10 minutes with… Belinda Chapple from Bardot

Please give us some background on Bardot …
Bardot was one of the first bands to be created from the now beloved TV reality show format in a show called Popstars. A cattle call notice went out across Australia looking to find Oz’s answer to The Spice Girls. I was one of the girls chosen alongside Sophie Monk, Tiffani Wood, Katie Underwood a Sally Polihronas.

You hit fame fast …
Bardot was the first-ever group to debut at number one in the Australian charts with both our first single and first album. We completed several national and international tours, and what a ride it was! Life in Bardot was full-on for two and a half years.

What was Bardot’s first hit?
Poison went straight to Number One in the Australian and New Zealand charts. It also went Gold here in Singapore. I can vividly remember fans lining up on Orchard Road to meet us!

Tell us about The Girl in the Band …
It’s somewhat of a cautionary tale; a look behind-the-scenes of the entertainment industry in the 90s until the demise of Bardot. I’m as honest as possible about the psychological effects of fame and the highs and lows of such an incredible experience.

Away from the public glare, were things not as they seemed?
As we all know, any success comes with a lot of hard work and sacrifices. I wasn’t prepared for the notoriety and the public scrutiny. Fame is not for everyone and it sure isn’t what it promises to be. You’ll have to read the book to find out more!

Why publish now?
I started journalling back in 2004 as I needed to process some things I’d been through, and was going through. I wouldn’t have had the courage to release a book back then. True stories should be shared and my book is a love letter to other performers, so they don’t feel so alone in such a cut throat industry.

What will most surprise readers?
Maybe how the band disbanded overnight. And the hardships that came with all the amazing times. If I had to give my 24-year-old self any advice, I’d say this with a smile: get a good lawyer! And don’t be too trusting!

What are you up to these days?
I’ve recently returned to Sydney from Singapore with my Swedish husband. Alongside being an interior designer, I’ve just created a TV concept called Paper Dolls. It’s an eight-part scripted drama that will air on Paramount + later this year.

Are you still singing?
Yes! I’ve also been in the recording studio with my fellow band member Katie Underwood. We released a fun dance-pop track called ‘FOLLOW’ which has been on all streaming platforms since September. As for a Bardot reunion, never say never!

As we approach Christmas, how will you be spending it this year?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. My husband and I are considering escaping to Fiji!

The Girl in the Band by Belinda Chapple is out now.

The connection between dental & disease

  •  Sponsored Content 

We’ve all been told that a healthy smile requires you to brush, floss, and see a dentist regularly, but the real impact of your oral health on your overall wellness goes much further than you might think. In fact, more and more research is showing that periodontal disease could be linked to other serious conditions such as, heart disease, dementia and more!

Dr Josh X. Liu, an American dentist at expatdental®, knows first-hand how oral health can impact wellness. In 2012, when his dad required open heart surgery, he was asked to clear his father dentally before a heart valve replacement procedure. This is because bacteria in the mouth can travel to other parts of the body and cause an infection, such as endocarditis in the heart. Since then Dr. Josh has been deeply passionate about educating his patients on the mouth-body connection and how prevention is key.

What health concerns can come with poor oral health?

What is periodontal (or gum) disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection and inflammation in the gums and bone that hold your teeth in place. Gum disease is common and typically occurs when you don’t have a good daily dental routine. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, plaque (which is a sticky  film of bacteria) can build up on the teeth and harden. Once it hardens, you usually need a hygienist and/or dentist to remove it.

If your gums are swollen, red or tender and bleed easily, you should visit a dentist to address any gingivitis and/or periodontitis. The longer you wait, the more likely the disease will progress where gums can recede, and bone and teeth can be lost. And the worse your periodontal disease, the greater risk you could be putting on your overall wellness.

How common is periodontal disease?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 47 percent of people aged 30 years and older in the United States have some form of periodontal disease.

Preventative dental care is often cheap – procedures are not!

We know that one of the reasons people don’t see a dentist is cost. But keeping up with your regular dental visits and daily oral care can help prevent expensive procedures down the line.

“If you have dental insurance through your work, that can be really helpful. But more often than not, privately bought insurance isn’t worth it. Make sure to check the yearly limits, waiting time, and provider lists. I recommend saving a small monthly budget for dental care so you don’t have to feel that you’re choosing between your finances and your health – and remember that it truly can impact your overall wellness!” says, Dr. Josh.

Want to check your oral health? Book an appointment with an international team of dentists in Singapore.

About expatdental®

  • Internationally trained & certified dental team
  • Transparent pricing. No surprises
  • A Dental Warranty. See website for full details


Book online at expatdental.com
WhatsApp +65 9656 0697
Call +65 6816 5742

How to keep it all calm this Christmas

We don’t want to be all ‘Grinchy’, but for the most wonderful time of the year, the holiday period sure does seem to pile on the stress. Perhaps it’s the post-pandemic attitude that we have lost time to make up for. Maybe it’s because talk of Christmas now starts in September. It could be that social media is making us all a little bit more competitive regarding the festivities (where exactly are your snaps of your jaunt to Lapland?).

Smita Singh, Senior Lecturer (Psychology) at James Cook University Singapore (research.jcu.edu.au/portfolio/smita.singh) understands the pressure. “The holiday season can often bring about anxiety, particularly in relation to the financial burden of purchasing gifts and food. The expectations and traditions associated with this time of year can certainly create a level of stress to meet specific standards,” she says.

Indeed, the cost of living has risen globally. For expats, the price of visiting family for the celebrations can be especially high. “With inflation and the aftermath of Covid-19, travel expenses have become even more burdensome,” Smita continues. “This means that people who must pay for travel to see loved ones are facing even greater monetary strain than ever before.”

With this in mind, Smita takes us through some common scenarios that might make your yule feel less than cool.

Seasonal strife: Christmas is expensive

“It’s helpful to plan and save ahead of time. Create a budget for Christmas, which can help prevent overspending,” Smita suggests. “This might involve setting aside a portion of your earnings throughout the year and sticking to a predetermined shopping list to prevent impulse purchases.” Too late? Start your shopping now! If you’re someone who dislikes the hustle and bustle of crowded places, reduce angst by avoiding Singapore’s busy malls and buy online instead. “Next year, consider spreading your shopping out over the course of 12 months, starting with post-Christmas sales to take advantage of the discounts,” Smita says.

Also, remember that gift-giving doesn’t necessarily require splashing your cash. There are alternative ways to show someone your appreciation and love, such as offering your time and expertise as a present.

  • Plants in DIY pots are unique presents, which can make families and friends feel valued
  • Make your own gifts. DIY crafts and online tutorials are great for ideas. For instance, a photograph displayed in a picture frame can be done in various creative ways
  • Passing your favourite book of the year to a friend with similar interests shows you’ve taken their preferences into account

Seasonal strife: Everyone in your condo is hosting a soiree

You want to return the generosity to your neighbours, but it’s inconvenient and you know your platter of Tim Tams won’t cut it. Smita says that it’s crucial to share your worries with close neighbours who may have similar concerns. “Engage in honest conversations with them,” she says. “Rather than organising individual events, it may be beneficial to work together as a community to plan a group gathering, allowing for a collective effort where everyone shares the cost.”

Seasonal strife: People are visiting for Christmas

You love them, but two weeks with them?! Smita recommends assigning household chores to members of your household to keep running a smooth ship. By doing so, everyone can be accountable for their responsibilities, and it also fosters a sense of fun and sharing within the household. Additionally, organise activities such as picnics in public spaces which can be an excellent way to bond, but also gets everyone out of the house.

Seasonal strife: There will be family conflict

From the husband who hogs the TV remote, to the sister-in-law who demands attention, it’s common for families to experience tension at this time of the year when harmony is expected. Keep expectations realistic: if your family members typically argue a lot, it’s likely that they will also argue on Christmas Day. “To avoid conflicts, consider breaking up the celebrations and keeping contentious family members apart,” says Smita. You could plan separate gatherings on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. After-lunch activities, such as playing cricket in the park or heading to the coast can also help distract from potential rows. And try to avoid excessive alcohol consumption. We all know what happens when Uncle Jim has too many Eggnogs …

Seasonal strife: You have to do it all!

From the food shopping to present-buying, decorations to the entertaining, it all comes down to you. Here’s how to manage: 

Firstly, it’s important to decide early what you’d like to do for Christmas, and ensure that any children have a say in the plans. This will help to avoid any last-minute changes or disappointments

Listen to your body. Be mindful of overindulging in rich foods, and if you feel tired, prioritise a nap

Remember that Christmas is not the time to sort out long-standing grievances. Wait until the new year before discussing any unresolved issues

  • Seeking support from friends or a counsellor can be helpful to sort through difficult feelings that may arise during the holiday season. Remember that it’s okay to ask for help, and there are resources available for those going through challenges
  • Take time out alone to rejuvenate. Sometimes a coffee on the beach might be all you need for composure
  • Know that it’s okay if things around you are not perfect!

When is the best time to buy Australian property?

  •  Sponsored Content 

If you’ve been contemplating the idea of investing in Australian property, you’ve likely encountered the question: “When is the best time to buy?”  That’s often met a wink and a nod followed by with the reply, “NOW!” But before you jump in feet first, let’s dive into some of the intricacies to consider.

Start with tax advice

First and foremost, let’s talk taxes. In the realm of property investment, understanding tax implications is crucial. Australia offers a range of tax benefits designed to support property investors. It’s important to be well informed about buying structures, negative gearing, capital gains tax, and to have a robust property investment strategy.

It’s also essential to remember that tax laws can be complex and subject to change. Seeking advice from a tax professional who specialises in property investments and expatriate taxation is key to ensuring that you’re maximising your tax advantages.

As a leading provider of Australian taxation, finance, and property services to Australian expatriates and foreign investors, SMATS Group has assisted thousands of clients to purchase property using tax effective and reduced risk investment strategies that are geared towards long-term success.

“Property values often climb faster than our budget”

Navigating home loans

As any experienced investor will tell you, securing mortgage pre-approval is pivotal. Unfortunately, when you’re an expat or non-resident buyer, you’re often faced with decreased mortgage options, reduced borrowing capacity and higher rates. However, this doesn’t always have to be the case.

This is where partnering with a firm that has been successfully obtaining home loans for Aussie expats and non-residents for over 30 years is a no-brainer. Specialist Mortgage, the finance division of SMATS Group, has mastered the art of tailored expat mortgage solutions.

Mortgage pre-approval not only gives you a clear understanding of your borrowing capacity, but it establishes your credibility as a serious buyer. It can save you time, energy, and heartache by streamlining the process when you find the perfect property. In addition, pre-approval can provide you with the confidence of shopping with a budget in mind.

Buying the Aussie dream

The physical distance, local market knowledge gap, and dealing with real estate agents can make buying Australian property whilst abroad seem like an insurmountable task. That’s where a buyer’s agent can assist.

A buyer’s agent can serve as your local eyes and ears, advocate for your interests, and leverage their expertise to find your ideal property. Navigating negotiations, conducting property inspections, and handling legal intricacies – all of these are simpler when you have a trusted professional by your side. At SMATS Group, our buyer’s agents possess an in-depth understanding of the Australian market, including emerging trends and hidden gems that you might miss from afar.

And here’s why they will tell you, NOW is the time to buy Australian property. The market has displayed remarkable resilience through various economic shifts, reinforcing its reputation as a stable and attractive investment option.

Cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth continue to be strong contenders for property investment due to their economic growth, cultural vibrancy, and desirability. Recent data indicates that property prices are on the rise driven by factors such as buyer competition, housing demand, supply shortages and migration.

Ditch procrastination

Many of us will reflect on our home buying journey and think “I wish I’d bought 10 years ago”. Procrastination often results in us having to downgrade from our dream home. Property values often climb faster than our budget. That once attainable property grows out of reach.

The lesson learned is that waiting doesn’t achieve results. Buying your home today means you lock in today’s price. When, it comes to buying quality Australian real estate, the sooner the better. Quality liveable real estate will always be in high demand, ride the wave of property cycles, and outperform the market.

If you’re an expat or a non-resident, the path might seem more challenging, but rest assured, solutions are within reach. SMATS Group can assess your unique circumstances and guide you through the maze of mortgages and intricacies of purchasing whilst abroad, whether that be your ideal home or an investment property.

With a blend of favourable conditions, professional guidance, and a landscape that beckons, this might just be your moment to make your mark on the Australian property market.



 +65 6293 3858


Tour: Photography & Social Media Masterclass in Little India | Wednesday 17th January 2023

Want to improve your social media posts? Can’t figure out how to make a reel? Join us on this fun tour that will help you up your social media game!

During this session, social media wizard Lizzy Homersham from the Conscious Lizzy will take us on a wander through Little India, giving us tips on which photos and videos to take. 

Once we are done, we will head back to the ANZA office where we will create some social media magic, with the help of Lizzy.

You will come out of this tour with the skills to share your adventures around Singapore with your family and friends.

Price includes:  A caffeinated beverage of your choice

Date: Wednesday 17th January 2024

Time : 09:00am – 12.00pm

Meet:  08.50am – Tekka Centre 665 Buffalo Road Singapore 210665

Cost: $40 ANZA Member, $45 Non-Member

Additional Notes:  Wear comfortable shoes, wear sunscreen and bring water. 

This tour will start at Little India and finish at the ANZA Office in Kampong Glam

Fitness Level: Medium – Some walking in the heat required.  Plenty of rest stops will be available.


What a weekend for ANZA Cricket!

DAY 1 What a game it was! Akash Dogra started early, heading over to Johor Bahru at 1am to arrive in good time! The rest of us went early on Saturday morning with an easy drive across the Causeway.

Drew Norris won the toss. Being unfamiliar with the Johor Bahru wicket put us at a slight disadvantage, so we chose to bat. The field was slippery, but we didn’t know it would be a sticky, low-scoring wicket, and that the Jolly Wallabies (JW) had their “fab 4” bowlers all ready.

Akash and Andrew Eagan stuck to their guns with a very good opening partnership. Thirty-seven off 13 overs it was looking good, but then there was a collapse. The openers visited each other in the shed within two balls and others joined them quickly. By the 18th over we fell to 4-57.

Constant wickets falling, the innings fell to a nervous Dheeraj Bhardwaj and Nathan (Nate) Whitehall to save the day. Maybe Nate had an unfair advantage being British and using ‘slow and low’, but he demonstrated the right way to play. Dheeraj fretted his way to an innings saving 26 off a whopping 93 balls. At the end of the 50th over, ANZA was all out for 120 and we didn’t lose the test in the first three hours!


The Jolly Wallabies top order rode their luck and had several good 30-odd run partnerships. At the end of the first day, they were 6-142 (40 overs) and looking to return the next day and grind ANZA into the ground. It could have been worse but a youthful Anton Padar bamboozled with his spin, and Dheeraj chipped in with very accurate on-the-stumps bowling and wickets in the last hour.

The first day was well skippered by Drew, but with 5-6 dropped catches, you’re never going to get a performance bonus. His taxi arrived as play stopped, and he hadn’t even cracked open a Tiger!

Day 2 saw Dave Vu take over as skipper. Flying blind, he was given a bunch of old, opinionated, hungover men to manage, and a game that was threatening to get away. To ANZA’s credit, Dheeraj continued picking up wickets. The JW’s finished after 50.4 overs on 167, a lead of 47 which was below expectations.

During 2nd innings, ANZA had to bat well. Our confidence didn’t last long. Another collapse and we were 4 down when we wiped off the 47-run lead. Luckily Sandesh Gavade, who got a peach in the first innings, wasn’t having any of it. With his wristy cut shots and flips around the corner, he went to save the innings. Falling in the last few balls before lunch, Sandesh scored a quick 66 off 47. With a 60-run lead and 5 down, the game was back on!


By now we knew a 120 lead would be enough. However, another collapse and we quickly got down to the last pair: Aman Juneja and Dheeraj. Aman batted excellently for his 19 off 17, and Dheeraj added a few. The last wicket partnership of 20 was invaluable, but with only a 90-run lead after two innings, we left ourselves short.

The Jolly Wallabies came to bat and started poorly with 1-3 after the first over. There was some good bowling from Dheeraj, Aman, and Sandesh, but it all came down to fielding as JW nerves became ours. Ayush, visiting Aman from India, showed commitment with a brilliant face plant. Anton, adamant he wouldn’t get a catch, caught the first wicket and later a screamer on the boundary. Racing across the outfield, like a streaker running for his life, he snatched at the ball full throttle and held it just like a baby.

Ben Frost kept well and made everyone take note when he flipped a wide-ish return, MS Dhoni style, behind his back and into the off stump, taking JW’s third last batsman out. This led to their second-last batsman coming out with scores tied. The final single was knocked and JW only just won the match.

Gav goes for it!
When you’re 4-12 after 5 overs and in a hole, you don’t expect the next batsman to walk in and play a tune, but Gavin Parker does not do it any other way. Wham, Bam, Ooof, Booooom, Grunt and Ka Ching! 69 Balls, 11-4’s, 8-6’s, and not many runs, his total hit of 111 was the biggest single-handed innings this year. ANZA amassed 264 innings, Tuskers 189 in reply. Great work, Gav!

SCC Youth Development
As yet, ANZA doesn’t run a junior team, but Singapore Cricket Club offers a youth development programme for kids aged 5-10. With a variety of sessions running weekends and mid-week, the Cubs Cricket environment is “all about fun and enjoyment through our brilliant game.” To find out more contact David Bennett at JuniorCricket@scccricket.com

Hotspot: Canchita Peruvian Cuisine

In celebration of the December festivities, Canchita Peruvian Cuisine at Dempsey Hill introduces a special “Las Posadas” menu, bringing the beloved flavours of Latin America to Singapore.

“Las Posadas” is a Christmas tradition observed in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras from December 16 – 24, symbolising the pregnancy of Mary. The term “posadas” comes from the Spanish word for ‘lodging,’ referencing the inn in the Nativity story and giving rise to the well-known tradition of “piñatas.” In distinctive Canchita style, these seasonal offerings will be featured alongside the regular menu.

Chef Tamara Chavez infuses the Latin American Christmas table spirit into the menu, and we had the pleasure of sampling these dishes. Highlights include the Cocktail Rosado ($44), a sumptuous shellfish cocktail with lobster and prawns marinated in creamy tomato tiger’s milk. The Ajiaco Colombiano ($34), a comforting chicken soup with potatoes, corn, and topped with sour cream, capers, and Colombian Guascas.

For a festive taste of Puerto Rico, the Beef Mofongo ($42), fried plantain stuffed with Picanha, generously dressed with “Mojo Blanco” dressing. In true Latin spirit, the Lechon Asado ‘A la Cubana’ ($60) featured juicy suckling pig roasted Cuban-style, served with mojo sauce and traditional ‘Moros con Cristianos’ or black beans and rice.

The sweet conclusion features a tasty Arroz Zambito ($16), Peruvian rice pudding adorned with chancaca, fresh coconut, raisins, and cloves. To complement the meal, Canchita offers delightful cocktails crafted for the occasion.

VERDICT: These delectable creations are available throughout December, providing an opportunity to savour Latin American Christmas dishes, with Chef Tamara’s storytelling adding an immersive touch to the dining experience.

Canchita Peruvian Cuisine, Dempsey Rd, #9A 9B, 247698

4 tips to protect yourself from rising inflation

  •  Sponsored Content 

Despite the year-high MAS Core inflation rate of 5.5% in 2023, it is projected to slow to an average of 2.5-3.5%. Consumer Price Index- All Items Inflation is expected to average between 3.0-4.0%. That said, inflation is still affecting food and energy prices, resulting in diminished purchasing power.

Our friends at Pacific Prime CXA Singapore are here to provide us with valuable tips to protect ourselves amidst intense inflationary pressure.

4 tips to cope with inflation

1. Shop Smart and Reduce Unnecessary Spend

Expenses could be categorised into fixed expenses and discretionary expenses. The latter are expenses that are not 100% necessary which can be reduced by:

  • Reviewing subscriptions that are not in use (gym membership, online streaming services)
  • Reducing the frequency of the expenses
  • Switching to a more budget-friendly option

It is also possible to reduce fixed expenses by shopping smarter. Here are some life hacks you might start incorporating into your daily routine:

  • Buy house brand products at supermarkets
  • Visit shops and supermarkets near closing time for discounts
  • Consider buying from second-hand shops
  • Use credit/debit cards that give you better rewards for your spending pattern

2. Make Your Savings Inflation Proof and Start Investing

Outside emergency cash, the rest of your savings can be used to save in higher-interest accounts. Beyond savings, you can also start investing in low-risk instruments like Singapore Saving Bonds and money market funds.

Although investment naturally comes with higher risks, it is one of the best ways to make passive income, increase the purchasing power of your money, and fulfill your financial goals.

3. Actively Increase Your Income

There are many ways to earn extra income besides your main job to relieve the pressure from the increased cost of living.

Consider exploring various sources of side income, from tutoring and using your car for private hire to selling unwanted items and making money from a hobby such as baking or handicrafts.

4. Secure Comprehensive Health Insurance

In this post-COVID era, a significant surge in healthcare costs and demand is noticeable. It is best to re-budget and review your health insurance plan with a reputable broker like Pacific Prime CXA Singapore. Contact them today for a free quote!

For more information about how inflation shapes the health insurance industry, download their State of Health Insurance Report 2023 today!


From Bad Boy to Buddhist Monk to Business Owner

Tell us about your life before you became a  monk?
I was a very self-centered young boy. I was violent towards my mother, and almost killed my father when I was 14. Not only did I wreak havoc at home, but I also got into fights at school and was eventually expelled. By 2011, I was 23 years old and spending my days in Singapore drinking, partying, splurging on luxury goods, street racing and meeting girls. One day, I quarrelled with my parents and got so angry that I tried to set fire to their bed. Fortunately, I used a cooking oil that I didn’t know wasn’t flammable.

How did monkhood come about?
That same year, I went on a short trip to the south of Thailand and was offered the opportunity to live in a monastery for a week. Since there’s a stereotype that Buddhist monks know the best way of life, I decided to try it out. I wanted to know why I was unhappy, angry, and dissatisfied with life. Also, a big part of me wanted to take photos of myself as a monk to show off to my friends. 

Can you remember your first day?
On my first morning, I woke up in a foreign land where nobody could speak my language. The guest monk arrived at my door to help me with my robes – three big pieces of cloth with a sash to hold them together. I followed him into the main hall, sat on a straw mat and looked at the Buddha statue – the only object of familiarity around me. More monks arrived, and a deep sense of comfort and excitement began to build up in me. 

Your time in the monastery lasted longer than a week …
The spiritual calling was sudden and strong, literally within the first few days. I continued living as a monk in monasteries around the world for five years with the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism (plumvillage.org).

Given your unruly past, how easy was this?
Not easy at all! My teacher rehearsed the formalities with me to receive alms. The food in the monastery was not palatable and the reality that my head and eyebrows were shaved took a bit of getting used to. But I sacrificed all of my material comforts in search of an unknown meaning. Back then, I still had no real idea what Buddhism or meditation was really about, but it felt right.

Today, DK shares his knowledge of life as a monk at The Hermitage Zen

What was a typical day like?
Days started at 3.30am with chanting and meditation. Then we’d receive alms from the locals, clean assigned communal areas, do communal work, read, and engage in more chanting and meditation. We’d have a tea gathering at around 5pm. 

Did you have specific duties to carry out in the monastery?
A monk is not without worldly responsibilities. At certain points I was in charge of guest relations and also worked directly under the abbot as his personal assistant, event coordinator and ghostwriter. A big part of my experience in Plum Village also involved coaching, consultancy, and dialogues and conferences with psychologists, neuroscientists, business owners and change makers.

What realisations did you have?
They say life is a story, so it’s up to us to know when to end a chapter and write a new one. We all have a tale to tell the moment we learn to be inspired by it. Whatever hardship or undesirable circumstances you may find yourself in right now or in future, you must learn to zoom out of it and realise you’re in charge of your own narrative.

Can you share any standout lessons?
Whatever decisions we choose to make or not make in life, we must be accountable for them and make peace with them. We’re making conscious choices all the time. When we make a choice to be at any place or in any circumstance, we have to make the best of it.

A young DK in the early days of his monkhood

Why did you leave the monkhood?
I wanted to prove to city dwellers that enlightenment is possible in a fast-paced society through the power of mindfulness and meditation. In order to do that, I had to leave the monastery to gain first-hand experience of the kind of obstacles modern society was facing. I knew that disrobing would help me to discover new ways to teach modern people how to practice inner-peace.

“We all have a story to tell
the moment we learn to be
inspired by it”

How did it feel living back in Singapore?
I soon realised that I had zero skills to get any product or service off the ground! When I started my company The Hermitage Zen in 2017, I survived on $500 per month for two years. This included me eating the exact same bowl of noodles every day because it was the only thing I could afford. 

Did you ever want to return to monkhood?
Never. Even when my progress was being sabotaged, I made a point to celebrate any shortcomings because I needed to taste modern suffering. Difficult moments just provided me with more evidence that meditation and mindfulness works.

How does meditation and mindfulness work exactly?
They both helped me to understand that many successes are built upon failures. Through meditation, I realised that my aspirations to return to society were based on the ability to experience worldly suffering, and to show others that peace is possible amidst chaos. 

Tell us about The Hermitage Zen …
It’s a mindfulness-based spiritual learning organisation that works with individuals at every stage of their growth. We have a community that supports one another through innovative programmes, workshops and retreats. To do this, we integrate ancient wisdom from Eastern spiritual traditions with today’s world.

We have to ask, how’s your relationship with your parents today?
Really good! We reconnected and reconciled a month after I joined the monkhood.

What advice would you give the young DK today?
Listen and value advice from people who are more experienced and successful than you. And always remain humble.  

Meditation V Mindfulness

  • Meditation offers the opportunity for you to settle your mind in order for you to be aware of the flickering thoughts going through your head. With a calm and introspective mind, you can understand what barriers are separating you from inner peace.
  • Mindfulness means to live fully in the present instead of living in your head, bouncing between moments in the past and future. It awakens you to the wonders of life that are happening here and now.



Season’s Eatings with Singapore’s top chefs & bartenders

Whether you want to keep your festive dining simple, or are planning to go all-out with the prep and home entertaining, Singapore’s best food and beverage experts have got you covered! Read on for twists on turkey, how to pair your wine perfectly, and where to find a slap-up Christmas feast in Singapore if you want to keep out of the kitchen. Enjoy!

Prep like a pro

By Charles Nguyen, Chef De Cuisine, Intercontinental Singapore
“Plan dishes in advance. It’s not just about deciding what food to serve, but also ensuring that ingredients are complementary to each other. Planning gives you the opportunity to test recipes out, get familiar with the cooking process, and improve time management, all of which are crucial when preparing multiple dishes.

I recommend making a great first impression with appetisers; they play such an important role in setting the tone for the entire festive meal. Take your guests’ preferences into consideration: a charcuterie board or a seafood bisque is often a popular and fuss-free choice to kick off with.

Importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s key for the person cooking to enjoy the process, so rope in friends and family! If handling a roast turkey is too complicated, order it from a hotel or restaurant and focus on the dishes you enjoy making.”

5 ways to max a whole salmon

By Chef Jordan Keao, Chef de Cuisine at Butcher’s Block.

  1. Salmon belly for Sashimi
    It’s important to check with your fishmonger that the salmon is of sashimi grade before purchasing and serving it raw to your guests. As a delicacy, the fatty and buttery salmon belly is best used for sashimi.
  2. Trimmings for Salmon Tartare on Toast
    After collecting the salmon belly, use the trimmings and meat scraped off the bones for a delicious Salmon Tartare on Toast.
  3. Salmon collar for Misoyaki Grilled Salmon Collar
    As the collar is the most tender and flavoursome part of a fish, glaze it with an umami mix of white miso, mirin, sake and sugar before grilling until caramelised.
  4. Salmon top loin for Baked Salmon with Lemon
    The most premium cut of the salmon with a high fat-to-flesh ratio, the top loin only requires a simple preparation of baking with lemon slices, olive oil, and salt to season. You can also bake the salmon in parchment paper for fuss-free cooking.
  5. Salmon skin for Crispy Salmon Skin with Sansho
    Don’t throw away the skin: lay it out on a tray to dehydrate and dry out the moisture at a low temperature in the oven. Then deep-fry and toss with any seasoning you like. I like sansho pepper powder for a citrus and floral flavour.


The ultimate Xmas Duck

By Chef Aaron Tan, Executive Chinese Chef at Man Fu Yuan.

Is duck a good alternative to turkey?
It’s excellent, and certainly one to consider. The key difference is the texture; turkey tends to be drier, particularly when compared to Silver Hill Duck, and the skin of turkey will not become as crispy as that of duck. Another consideration is size – a whole turkey may be too large for smaller families.

How do I cook it?
The method is relatively simple. We usually roast duck due to its texture. As it’s more tender, with a higher fat content, roasting will give the best results and ensure a crispy skin with juicy, succulent meat. Try seasoning with Cajun spices and black pepper to add a Cantonese twist to the meat.

What about the prep?
This is the most time-consuming part of the process, although seasoned chefs will enjoy it. First, stuff the duck with spring onion, ginger, and cinnamon before allowing it to marinate for a minimum of eight hours. Afterwards, poach the duck for 10 seconds, pour over a sauce if required, and fan dry for 8-10 hours. The oven should be set to 165 – 175 degrees Celsius, with the duck roasting for 45 minutes.

And the sides?
Grilled broccolini, glazed BBQ pineapple, and plum sauce.

What about wine?
Red wine complements duck better. Try Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Bordeaux.

Any other tips?
If the duck is too large to fit into your oven, debone the breast and pan sear instead. Or order in – our Silver Hill Irish Duck will be available for takeaway over the festive season!

Man Fu Yuan is collaborating with the Irish Duck Company until 15 November 2023.

Wine shopping tips (+ how to heal a hangover)

By Louis Toh, Head Sommelier,
Raffles Hotel Singapore.

Fizz is the biz
While connecting with friends and family over a meal, I recommend selecting champagne to pair with festive dishes. It’s so versatile that it can be paired with cured meats, cheeses, baked ham, and roast turkey. From November onwards, Raffles Hotel will be introducing Tarlant Champagne Brut Nature Zero into our master wine list – a bubbly which is especially rare, and delivers a delicious complexity with multiple layers.

What a pair
A zesty white wine is brilliantly versatile as well. While it’s easy to go with the typical guideline of pairing white wine with white meats and red wines with red meats, it’s vital to consider the sauce and cooking method of the dish also. Stronger flavours require a heavier wine. More delicate flavours or cooking methods like steaming or poaching go best with more delicate options.

Perfect match

My personal favourite food and wine pairing for the year end is tender semi bone-in half gammon ham complemented with an approachable Barossa Shiraz such as Head The Blonde Shiraz.

So gifted
For those looking to gift a bottle of wine, consider the personality of the person receiving it, their drinking habits, and the occasion. For a Christmas dinner party, a beautiful sparkling such as the Idée Fixe Premier Brut Blanc de Blancs by Vasse Felix from Margaret River is bright, easy to drink and pairs with many dishes.

Port for thought
I love opening a vintage port wine for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Crafted with notes of concentrated dried fruits, blackberry, cocoa, and spices, it complements chocolate log cake, panettone, cheese, and salted, smoked nuts.

No pain, all gain
As with all parties this holiday season, avoiding a hangover can be hard! My cure is a pot of hot and strong black tea which helps rejuvenate the body thanks to caffeine properties which can relieve fatigue. I once decided to brew a pot of Pu-Er tea one morning after too much indulgence and found that it alleviated my headache and tiredness. Magic!

Raffles Hotel’s Bar and Billiard Room is hosting an exclusive wine dinner on Sunday, 3 December 2023.

Do Happy Hour at Home

Funky Monks – Red Hot Chili Peppers
By Tippling Club.


  1. Add 40ml of white rum (Rhum Agricole preferred), 15ml of fresh lime juice, 10ml of ginger syrup, and 10ml of crème de cassis into a shaker and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a chilled tall glass, and top it up with chilled soda water and a lime wedge dipped in Togarashi spice for garnish.


Sticky Fingers

By Mel Chavez, Bar Manager, Smoke & Mirrors.


  1. Prep time: Add sous vide dates into a whisky of choice for 30 minutes to an hour. Then strain the liquid and keep it aside.
  2. For DIY-ers, create your own toffee syrup by melting 80g unsalted butter and combining it with 300g dark brown sugar and 400ml of heavy cream. Boil for 10 minutes until you have your preferred consistency. If you’re rushing for time, Monin Toffee Syrup from RedMart will do the trick!
  3. Shake up 25ml of your date-infused whisky, 25ml of dark rum, 15ml of the toffee syrup, 5ml of sugar syrup, and one whole egg. Strain it into an iced glass.
  4. Drizzle the toffee syrup on your drink. Enjoy with sticky date cake bites (store-bought or homemade)!


More cheese please!

By Executive Chef, Kelly Tay, The Westin Singapore.

“If you’ve got cheese left over from Christmas parties, make cheese scones. Serve with fig jam and homemade honey truffle as the sweetness and subtle tartness of fig jam pair will pair perfectly. To make honey truffle drizzle, simply mix some truffle oil with good quality honey. The earthy taste of truffle and the natural sweetness of honey will add elegance to your cheese board or cheese scones.”

High Cheese runs at Lobby Lounge, The Westin Singapore, until 26 November. Festive Afternoon Tea is from 27 November – 4 January 2024. marriott.com

Tips for Wagyu Carpaccio

By the CÉ LA VI Culinary Team.

  1. Purchase top-grade beef fillet such as A4 Miyazaki Wagyu Beef and thinly slice.
  2. Sauce prep: Pickle small shimeji mushrooms in water, vinegar, salt, and sugar, and boil for five minutes (larger mushrooms at about 8-10 minutes). Leave to cool and infuse.
  3. Dressing prep: Make your own ponzu dressing by combining soy sauce, dashi stock, mirin, rice vinegar (preferred, but regular vinegar works too), lemon juice, and lime juice. Zest your lemon for an extra burst of tanginess.
  4. Brush dressing over the thinly sliced beef, and serve with the pickled sauce.
  5. Make it extra fancy by coupling with Nomad Kaluga caviar (a fine delicacy on its own).


The perfect Australian Rock Lobster

By Chef Alynna Tan, Humpback.

“Christmas is a time for family and celebration. As chefs, we’re usually away from home during festive seasons, but on the rare occasion that I get to spend Christmas with my family, I like to cook a comforting, communal dish that my parents love instead of traditional Christmas staples. Since my mum loves my Japanese donabe cooking pot and my dad’s dream is always to have a huge lobster (inspired by watching Korean TV!), I created a Lobster Donabe using Australian Rock Lobster that is the best of both worlds. This way, they don’t fight over who is the favourite parent!”

Ingredients | 4 portions

  • Japanese shortgrain rice
  • Lobster stock
  • Rock Lobster, shells reserved for stock
  • Mizuna or watercress
  • Ginger, brunoise or pink oyster mushrooms
  • Lobster butter
  • Canola or grapeseed oil
  • Mirepoix – onion, carrot, celery, leek
  • Tomato paste
  • Crushed garlic
  • Dry or cooking sake
  • Mirin
  • Water

Lobster Prep
Detach lobster head from its tail
Separate the claws
Blanch the lobster in salted water for 1.5 to 2 minutes

Step 1: Wash the Japanese shortgrain rice with cold water until the water is clear
Step 2: Soak the rice in water for 10 minutes
Step 3: Roast the lobster shells until golden brown
Step 4: Add in mirepoix and garlic, followed by the tomato paste. Stir so it doesn’t burn
Step 5: Once caramelised, reserve half of the ingredients and transfer to another pot
Step 6: Deglaze the first pot with sake and mirin
Step 7: Add water and simmer for two hours or until the flavour is extracted
Step 8: Season with salt to taste

Merry Mindful Eating

By Tiffany Wee, In-house Naturopath & Nutritionist, SuperNature at COMO Dempsey.
Yes, we all want to dive into the Quality Street, but for maximum enjoyment, it’s wise to approach festive food mindfully. Here’s how:

  1. Before you eat, bring yourself into the present moment with three deep breaths. Beyond the food, take in and delight in all aspects of the dining experience.
  2. Consciously give yourself permission to indulge a little. Not only is this liberating, it allows you to facilitate a happier and healthier relationship with food in the long-term.
  3. Eat slowly. Pay attention to the look, smell, sound, texture and taste of the food. Eating with all our senses help us to better appreciate our food, and we tend to eat less.
  4. Begin each meal with gratitude and acknowledge the effort that has gone into its preparation. After all, the holiday season is a time to count our blessings and give thanks.
  5. Fully savour the moment. Set aside time for yourself to connect with loved ones while dining by opting for a fuss-free celebration.

Chef Ammi’s Pie Corner!

By Chef Ammie Khoo, Rosemead.

Apple pie
“I grew up spending the holidays enjoying my mum’s easy-to-make apple pie. She makes the shortcrust dough in advance, rolls it thin, then freezes it. The filling can also be made in advance – she premixes sugar, cinnamon, and flour before setting it aside. On Christmas Day, you just need to peel and slice some Granny Smith apples, mix with the sugar-cinnamon mixture and assemble the pie. Bake it when your guests start arriving.”

Pot pie
“Our family also loves pot pie. You can make the bechamel filling in advance and buy frozen puff pastry and good quality frozen vegetables. On the day of eating, simply cook your preferred protein (we love using lobster, turkey or chicken thigh), and mix it with the bechamel and vegetables. Put all the filling in a porcelain baking tray and top it off with puff pastry. Final step: brush some egg wash on top and bake it off. Easy!”