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Preview: Relish Dinner Theatre with Kumar And Friends

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-23 at 21.09.25

While the current COVID-19 pandemic has led to an inability to dine out, that’s not something that’s going to stop Relish.Sg from carrying on with their signature dinner party series. Known for their homey events, where guests gather to enjoy a muti-course home-cooked meal while prominent local artists perform or speak, how exactly will Relish.Sg adapt to the current situation?

Through the Internet, of course.

While the digital experience can never fully replace the live one, Relish Dinner Theatre with Kumar And Friends hopes to bring some of that warmth and joy to guests even amidst these difficult times. As its title suggests, the star of the show is none other than local drag queen and comedienne Kumar, who will be offering up a no holds barred conversation about anything and everything online. He will also be joined by special guests such as Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai, Shawn De Mello and Yen Caballero, who have also prepared performances to jazz up the evening.

And as for the food element? Relish.Sg promises a delicious menu by Relish.Sg co-founder and chef Chris Choo, with dishes such as Hokkien mee, pineapple duck and lamb rendang tok, and even a surprise dessert. This dinner will be delivered straight to guests’ doorsteps, and can be enjoyed at your own pace while enjoying the programme that Relish.sg has planned.

Speaking to Relish.sg co-founder Rose Sivam, we found out a little bit more about what to expect from this digital experience come 1st May, and how she thinks we can all cope better during this circuit breaker period. Read the interview in full below:

Rose Sivam. Photo from Facebook

Bakchormeeboy: Relish.Sg has always been about the live dinner experience, because of how the menu is always so carefully curated, along with the guests that are being featured. Why did you decide to carry on and organise this in virtual form despite the limitations?

Rose: We’ve responded to the COVID-19 situation by switching to takeaway as early as January, and stopped our themed parties, which used to attract as many as fifty guests at a time. While our regulars and new customers (via takeaway) love our food, we miss hosting and so do our guests. There’s nothing like a party, intimate, warm, cozy in a home.

And moving with the times, we thought why not a virtual party. We are known for our entertainment and great food, and that’s the magic combo. Thankfully, Chef Chris can cook all kinds of cuisine and I love our local music and arts scene, and know many amazing performers. In this way we’ve managed to make each Relish.Sg party unique and special and this one will be something totally new. We’re excited!

Bakchormeeboy: Tell us a bit more about the guests that you’re bringing to Relish this time. Why did you decide on these four in particular?

Rose: We wanted a mix of laughs, music, dance and great food, and so, each of our performers has talents in some of these areas. We want our guests to feel they have tuned in to something special, so they would dress with an element of blue, a sense of unity through a single colour, so you can see that there’s an effort made to make it feel like you’re going out for dinner. The setting is also different from a live show in a club or in our home, though some of that will still happen (you will see Chef Chris cooking at the start of the programme).

Kumar will be his usual funny self, although it’s more like being close like a friend, not on a stage away from the guests, and he will be mingling during our online party, so that audience-performer barrier is immediately broken. Sangeetha will host and play games with guests. I think she is extremely talented, and very funny too! Shawn De Mello has not sung in public for some time, but he is always a musician at heart although he has been in a totally different job since his band days with Energy. He has a beautiful warm presence and we are sure he will lend his very personal touch to the evening with his songs and charm. Meanwhile, Yen is a fireball of a dancehall performer, and she will get us all in the groove with a spot of dancing. How can we not dance at a party?

Bakchormeeboy: What are your personal tips for staying sane and keeping busy during this circuit breaker period? How do you stay healthy both mentally and physically while riding this out? 

Rose: We are as busy as always, and we are rather home-bound with our business. I have worked from home on my other projects since some time ago, so that part remains the same, but for now, we can’t attend plays, watch performances, attend yoga sessions, or go to the beach, so that’s a bummer! But we remain flexible, doing yoga at home, online or from an app, we love the food we cook, so that is not an issue, we are eating well, and staying in touch with friends and family across the globe. We pick up the phone and have a nice catch up with friends, and meetings can still continue with video calls and such. We are social, so these needs are fulfilled.

Bakchormeeboy: What motivates you to keep doing Relish.Sg year after year?

Rose: We love to host. Chris is a historian and artist – musician, chef, a collector of antiquities and he loves to understand the human condition through these arts, when guests come to share a meal with us or attend our parties, they fall in love with our home gallery, and the insights he shares on the various art and the culture associated with each piece – it’s very much a part of the experience. We hope we will resume these intimate times when all is in sync. This need to share is part of our motivation to keep doing Relish.Sg events and a way to stay inspired and relish life.

Bakchormeeboy: Do you think that Relish.Sg will change in any way in future? I.e. depart from its usual home dinner and quality entertainment style in any way?

Rose: While we are doing our first virtual dining experience, we maintain the same ingredients of great entertainment, warmth, as well as unique and delicious food, ensuring that we stay connected no matter what.

Bakchormeeboy: The arts scene has taken a hit during this period. How do you think we can continue supporting artists during this time?

Rose: Events like this dinner, digital content, is the way forward. It is still people touching people, that’s what it has always been about, just in different ways.

Photo from Relish.Sg

Bakchormeeboy: Even beyond the entertainment and good food, the dining experience is also often about the company you keep, and the communal feeling of eating together. Despite being physically apart, how can we stay connected, whether through Relish or otherwise?

Rose: Connection takes all kinds of forms. We have been rehearsing for this situation for a long time. The human spirit cannot be underestimated, and we have used digital ways to share, get a message across, and express ourselves. But while the digital platform is a means, humans remain the focal point of all creation. Good and bad, we are still connected, in some ways, more so now than ever before. We will continue to find new art forms and ways to share because it is in our nature.

Relish Dinner Theatre with Kumar And Friends takes place online on 1st May 2020, 7pm. Options are available to join just the online event, or order Relish’s menu, to be delivered. Book your place via their website here

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