Text by Lorraine Koh @ Makansutra
You’ve seen them around, in their branded evening gowns, attending high-class functions, or hanging out in the middle of a work day having high tea at some hotel. Socialites – that upper-crust of ladies who seem to have it all – where do they eat?
Dr Iroshini Chua has a strong passion for good food, regardless of price or ambience.
This writer met up with Iroshini Chua, a doctor who also runs a jewellery-design business. She was raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka where her family, the Gunawardanas, are in the precious gems industry. Needless to say, she was born with a silver spoon. She recalls, “When I was young, I just didn’t want to eat. My parents got me a private chef so that he will cook for me whatever I wanted. That somehow helped me get my appetite back.”
Black Olive Rice at Joe's Kitchen
We met up for lunch one Saturday afternoon. Instead of bringing me to some high-brow, need-reservations-months-in-advance restaurant, she suggested Joe’s Kitchen, a rather affordable, Thai café at Bukit Merah Lane. She explained that she eats here often, as it is near the hospital her husband works at. She remarks, “I can’t speak for all the socialites, but the ones I do hang with, will go to places even if there is no ambience, just because the food is amazing. It is a crying shame if you are in Singapore and you don’t eat the local food from the local places!” She cites the chicken rice at the Clementi market as one of her favourite foods to have.
Restaurant Schwarzwaldstube at Black Forest, Germany. (image courtesy of Dr Kevin Chua)
That doesn’t mean she leaves out the Michelin star restaurants. Iroshini, together with her husband, Dr. Kevin Chua, have no qualms about flying to Black Forest, Germany just to dine at the highly-acclaimed 3 star Michelin restaurant Restaurant Schwarzwaldstube. “The food was amazing, and the ingredients were really fresh. I place a strong emphasis on the freshness of the ingredients.” She also loves going to Thailand for the Thai food. She adds, “When it comes to food, it doesn’t matter if it’s expensive or cheap, what matters is that it’s good.”
She rattles off a few restaurants she frequents in Singapore, “Tippling Club and FiftyThree are both really good. A lot of my friends like to go to Andre, but I have yet to go there yet. The kids like to go to LaBrezza at The St. Regis as the pasta there is really good. Graze is another place where socialites like to chill at.”
From right, Dr Kevin Chua, Dr Iroshini Chua, Chef Wohlfahrt and friend
Contrary to popular belief, Iroshini also cooks at home, and often throws dinner parties for her fellow socialite friends. “I like gourmet cooking, and I will usually get my groceries at Cut The Mustard, a specialty food shop.”
Salmon from Restaurant Schwarzwaldstube. (image courtesy of Dr Kevin Chua)
It’s quite obvious that Iroshini is a real foodie who does not think twice about crossing oceans or even going to the heartlands for good food. For most socialites, money and distance is never a problem, if they know what they want for that particular meal. Although there are some socialites who prize ambience above good food, in the end, food never discriminates. Good food is still good, whether found in a hawker centre or a Michelin star restaurant.