As the Cyndi Lauper classic goes, girls just want to have fun. And when it comes to Malaysian women, an abundance of good food definitely drives up the fun quotient!
In a recent gourmet giveaway sponsored by Resorts World Genting, winners of Star Media Group’s Women Do Wonders competition were whisked away for a weekend worth RM1,000.
The contest, which ran throughout March, invited readers to nominate a woman who works wonders in their life, together with a photo and text submission.
The cool breeze and anticipation of a sumptuous staycation saw 28 of the 30 winners – accompanied by the women who wow their lives – in high spirits at the Awana Transportation Hub, where the lucky recipients had gathered ahead of their getaway.
Though N. Rajeswary’s daughter had nominated her to enjoy the prize, the 55-year-old planning manager recounted being caught by surprise as her children had kept the win a secret.
“On the morning of the announcement, a colleague left that particular page of the newspaper on my table, so I saw it only when I reached the office.
“It was a lovely surprise to see our picture, as that photo with the kids has always been my favourite. The poem touched me too!” said the proud mother of three.
As the glass floor gondolas pulled away from Awana Station, the breathtaking view of the 130-million-year-old rainforest below prompted murmurs of appreciation and a flurry of wefies during the 10-minute ride.
Then, it was straight to lunch at Resort Seafood Steamboat, a luxurious affair that saw contestants tucking into a sumptuous spread of glass prawns, mud crabs, handmade dumplings, silky white tofu, and an assortment of fresh greens and mushrooms, among others, all cooked in either spicy tom yum soup or clear chicken broth.
Those in attendance quickly made fast friends, chatting happily as they shared stories and helped to ladle piping hot food into each other’s bowls. WhatsApp groups sprang up quickly as well, to ensure ease in photo-sharing and staying in touch.
Foodies like Cassandra Yeoh paired different condiments such as prawn sauce, Chinese parsley and minced chilli garlic with her hot pot picks.
“There’re so many choices!” said the enthusiastic law student, who was nominated by her brother for being each other’s “24-hour on call tech and emotional support helpline”.
Her father, Yeoh Kok Hoe, had also won the prize for homemaker wife Ann Yap, resulting in a fun family outing.
After checking into their rooms at Tower 3, the newest wing of First World Hotel, participants trooped to the Genting International Convention Centre to delve into the art of coffee with the charismatic Thibault K. Bidi, Cafés Richard’s very own coffee ambassador.
Fuzianna Ibrahim, 54, found it an enlightening experience and even bought some finely-roasted coffee beans to share with her family back home.
High tea at the Parisian-style cafe at SkyAvenue after that was a much-anticipated treat.
“To learn more, we tried many kinds of coffee. It was my first time drinking coffee out of both a bowl and a wine glass. It actually tastes different when you do that!” said the bubbly pharmacist, who was nominated by her daughter Wan Jihana Amirah for her indomitable spirit even after four rounds of chemotherapy.
Along with freshly brewed cuppa from the Ethiopian Moka with its complex floral-citrus notes to the Jamaican Blue Mountain with honey sweetness and tobacco aromas, winners enjoyed a sweet spread of macarons, chocolate cake, cocoa mousse, crème brûlée and savoury hors d’oeuvres featuring smoked duck, salmon canapés, chicken pate on toasted baguette, grilled prawn and chicken skewers and other delectable bites.
After tea, there was another surprise in store.
All the nominated ladies were gifted with beautiful red roses and goodie bags, which included vouchers for SkyAvenue outlets such as Thomas Sabo and Leather Avenue.
In the evening, winners gathered at New York’s famous Motorino pizzeria to enjoy Neapolitan-style freshly wood-fired pizzas, cooked to perfection in ovens shipped in from Naples. The Cherry Stone Clam pie loaded with oreganata butter, mozzarella and parsley made quite the impression!
Children and adults alike gathered at the storefront to see the pizza chefs in action, marvelling at the made-to-order process using ingredients flown in from Italy.
The pepperoni pizza at the Brooklyn favourite also hid a local twist; slivers of fiery bird’s eye chilli embedded in the cheesy slices provided a spicy kick like no other!
Businessman Sunny Ng, 59, enjoyed the weekend with his wife and found the event to be a meaningful celebration of women.
“It’s a great experience for me to see women so empowered, to do what they can and be recognised for their contributions. I hope there’ll be more empowerment programmes in the future – maybe for men!” he added.
Hana Zulkifli, 30, said she particularly liked the high tea session while her sister, Ilani, enjoyed the simmered steamboat fare most.
As the sisters munched on the outlet’s speciality of chicken meatballs braised in tomato sauce, they reflected on how the getaway was a precious opportunity to spend some quality time together.
“We’re very different, but we’re very close,” the hotelier said, before everyone adjourned for the night.
The day after, winners were spoilt for choice with buffet breakfast at First World Plaza’s Food Factory, with some choosing a sweet start to their morning by heading straight for the chocolate fountain.
Apart from breakfast staples such as nasi lemak and fluffy pancakes, the winners also tried the popular fried carrot cake, relished delicious curries and enjoyed less usual offerings such as hummus and baba ghanoush (Middle Eastern roasted eggplant dip).
The getaway was also a cherished sisterhood reunion for four Penangites from Convent Pulau Tikus.
Chan Lai Lin, who had nominated the group’s childhood friend Oh Saw Khim for always going the extra mile to preserve their friendships, said her favourite part of the weekend was getting to share all the fun with her best girls.
“Of course, it was very nice to have good meals to boot!” said the vivacious lady. Chan had read about ex-classmate Lily Loh’s win in their chat group, and invested three days to come up with her large heart-shaped poster listing Oh’s virtues for her entry.
Big nod to women
Resorts World Genting vice-president of resort communications and public relations Katherine Chew, who took great delight in hosting the winners, recalled the sponsor’s excitement when Star Media Group approached them about the Women Do Wonders project in conjunction with the month-long International Women’s Day celebration.
“What Star is doing – honouring women – is magnificent. I hope there’ll be more initiatives to honour ladies, because for many of us, we work very hard to bring up the family while holding down full-time jobs,” she added.