For foodies, with love

By Debbie Yong, Rachel Loi

The Business Times

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013

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Jeremy Nguee
Chef and owner of catering service Preparazzi and Rakusaba, a pop-up ramen bar at The U Factory in Gillman Barracks

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"I usually keep a look out for things throughout the year. If I see something nice or interesting, I'll just pick it up first. I may or may not have someone in mind for the items.

They're usually limited edition pieces, like the Saut Hermes bracelet with trinkets, or ceramics for tea or shochu - you can't ever have enough sake cups.

I love shopping overseas, popping into small boutiques featuring small independent businesses that carry items you can't buy elsewhere. Outlet malls are also another great place to pick up an entire year's worth of shopping.

I usually shop for the usual suspects: my family, close friends, my wife, and people whose birthdays I usually forget. For each person, there's usually a theme I follow through the years as if I'm helping them build a collection, or a new wardrobe. For the wife, it's usually a bundle of small gifts - a mixture of things she'd like to get and things I'd like for her to have. Nothing too big or fancy, just a few things to say "I was thinking of you."

For one of the first Christmases while we were dating, my wife (then girlfriend) bought me a complete painting set which she assembled herself. It was so special and meaningful as if she knew that secret artistic side of me. Painting together was a great couple activity too.

I think gifts should reflect what you'd like for the other person, not something you think the other person should like. I love receiving gifts that have thought put into it, it could be self-made or just showed that the giver thought about the person that I really am, not the persona that everyone knows.

There was a time when I worked as a photographer, all I got were photo albums. What a bore.

This year, I'd recommend Franc Franc for its wonderful collection of ceramics that are both decorative and functional. The Monocle Shop at the U Factory pop-up also has many beautiful things, such as small leather goods as well as small works by Singapore artists in the Creative Cultures section. I also like giving kitchenware from Le Creuset and utensils from WMF, and Sam Leong's cookbooks - I've given away more than 20 copies of them over the years.

Christopher Christie
Executive chef, Marina Bay Sands

"Just like in a professional kitchen, functionality is key to a proper home kitchen. I like to give appliances as gifts as people tend to trust a chef's knowledge on their quality. I've previously given friends coffee makers, panini grills - everyone loves a proper grilled sandwich at home - a Kitchen Aid mixer, and decorative canisters. I've also even given a set of pots and pans to someone, but you need to be sure they will actually cook with them or it's a waste. While kitchen utensils make good gifts, I never give knives as a gift. I'm always afraid someone might cut themselves with the knife I gave them and then I'd feel guilty. Choosing a good knife is personal to me.

I approach my Christmas shopping like I cook - with lots of planning and thinking and then an efficient execution. I am normally really pressed for time so I tend to do most of the shopping at the last minute in stores. Generally, I've given a lot of thought into what I will get and when the time comes, I know where to find it. It's quick and easy.

Who I shop for and what kind of gifts I buy for them changes every year. I don't tend to repeat gifts or keep to a similar pattern of giving. Of course for children, the gift should be practical and educational, such as a good book or a puzzle. It should be something that makes them think.

The most memorable gift I had ever received was a card with words that meant more than any material gift could. I still keep that card till today.


For foodies, with love

Click on thumbnail to view. (Photos: BT, Betjeman and Barton, Crate & Barrel, Gourmet Tingkat By Preparazzi, Kinokuniya, Marina Bay Sands, Qu Division, The U Factory, ToTT, TWG Tea)

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