Together with her colleagues, consultant Elouise Chin, 31, attended a cooking class at the recently opened CulinaryOn.
The team-bonding activity at the One Raffles Place cooking studio, which involved preparing dishes such as caramelised duck salad and pandan chiffon cake, opened her eyes to both the culinary arts, as well as the personalities of her co-workers.
She says: “We learnt who enjoyed cooking, who preferred to eat, who preferred to watch and who was cutting tomatoes for the first time.
“This event created opportunities for us to know one another in an after-office setting and we had a lot of crazy fun.”
Cooking classes – from Thai food to fresh handmade pasta, either for groups or individuals – are heating up as a recreational activity in Singapore.
Two major international brand- name cooking studios have opened here in the past year – CulinaryOn from Russia and ABC Cooking Studio from Japan. CulinaryOn teaches both Asian and Western recipes, and ABC, whose studio is in Takashimaya, offers sessions on baking and Japanese food.
They join the slew of cooking studios already available in Singapore, each offering a variety of courses.
Cooking studio Coriander Leaf at Chijmes, which specialises in Asian cuisine, says it was one of only three studios in Singapore when it opened in 2001. Now, there are at least 10 of such studios around.
Although there are no official statistics on the number of people taking cooking courses here, all the cooking studios The Straits Times spoke to say that they have seen a rise in sign-ups in the past year.
In the one year since CulinaryOn opened here, it has organised more than 1,000 events and intends to double that by next year.
Over at cooking studio Palate Sensations at Biopolis, registration for classes has grown by at least 20 per cent year on year since it started a decade ago.
Some of these studios offer fully guided classes, where ingredients are measured out and prepped for students beforehand, on top of detailed, step-by-step cooking instructions from professionals.
Others offer cooking spaces for hire with only partial guidance – an option that has become popular for holding birthday parties and hen nights.
In any case, people want to learn how to cook and it has nothing to do with wanting to become professional chefs.
Mr Daniel Tan, 41, founder and managing director of cooking studio Food Playground, believes TV cooking shows have “made it glamorous for people to put on the apron and chef’s hat and then post their cooking experiences on social media”.
His four-year-old studio is in Chinatown and teaches various regional cuisines but with a strong focus on local delicacies.
Over at vegetarian cooking studio Little Green Kitchen, courses have become increasingly popular as Singaporeans are also “becoming more health conscious”, says its owner and chef Shalu Asnani, 40.
Her six-year-old studio in the Upper East Coast area teaches international dishes.
She adds: “Cooking is a great skill to learn and a fantastic way to spend your leisure time. It can be a fun, therapeutic and rewarding experience when you cook great food for your friends and family.”
Start the slideshow to learn more about each culinary school.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.