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[READ! FEST 2019] Our Culinary Roots, the Singapore Stories 1

National Library Board


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When :

04:30 PM - 06:30 PM


Central Public Library
100 Victoria Street, National Library Board, Singapore



Programme Synopsis

Food is integral to Singapore's culture. Being a nation of foodies, people readily travel in search of famous food stalls and the instagrammable restaurants on the island. Beyond that Instagram shot, how much do we know about Singapore's food heritage? The chef authors will take you through the past and present of their food heritage, share their take on what we can do for preservation.


This programme is suitable for foodies, home cooks, chef inspired types & curious creatures!


About the Speakers


Ow Kim Kit - Lawyer & Author 

Kit is a Singaporean lawyer and author of Delicious Heirlooms. She has also written many legal articles and commentaries in newspapers and leading industry publications. When not eating or researching old-school restaurants, she juggles between a busy banking & finance legal practice, family and finding the elusive solution to counter middle-age weight gain.



Devagi Sanmugam - Entrepreneur, Chef and Food Writer

Chef Devagi Sanmugam, known widely as ‘Spice Queen’, is one of Singapore's most dynamic and talented food personalities.  Chef Devagi has worked closely with experts from giant spice companies like McCormick, Babas, Nissin Foods, Lalah’s Indian Spices, Cereal-Tech, Catch Masala and Tasty Bites developing recipes and blends for them, and for other customers with all levels of cooking experience. Today, there are many small and big companies who have at least engaged her services once to develop exclusive blend of curry powder, tea blends or spice blends.  Some restaurants and cafes utilize her services for developing their signature dishes’ spice mix. 


An accomplished authority on Asian food scene and a professional spice blender, she is constantly involved in providing culinary educational experiences, developing and testing original recipes or formulas for food companies, hotels and restaurants all over the world and even an airline.  She conducts Asian Spice Appreciation and World Spice Appreciation workshops in Singapore as well as overseas throughout the year.


This inspiring chef has written and co-authored 22 cookbooks and her latest book, I AM A RICE COOKER! came in third place as World’s Best in the cooking schools’ category in the Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2017!
She has also appeared in a number of cooking shows on the local and foreign TV Channels, has been called upon to be a judge at several cooking competitions and recipe writing competitions and has been one of the judges with a locally produced Tamil version of the “Master Chef” cooking series.


Rita Zahara – Co-Founder & CEO AMGD Global

Multi-hyphenated media personality, Rita Zahara, is a woman who wears many hats. The television impresario was a former journalist and newscaster at Channel NewsAsia, Suria and ESPN Star Sports. She later pursued a PhD at NTU in 2008 before becoming a two-time cookbook author and entrepreneur. With a penchant for digital transformation, Rita is now co-founder and CEO of food-tech company, AMGD Global, and is also the founder and chairman of media-tech agency, Reta Transmedia. Rita was recently honoured at the Women Entrepreneur Awards 2017. AMGD stands for Ahhmahgawd, and Ahhmahgawd means delicious, healthy food, delivered conveniently from kitchen to doorstep. It uses data and AI to create its 500+ recipes based on customer’s preferences and has a tech-enabled distribution network. AMGD is 3 years old and is in Singapore, Hong Kong and expanding to Korea, KL by end 2019 and Jakarta next year.


Violet Oon – Food critic, Chef, Cookbook Writer and Restaurateur

Violet Oon is the grande dame of Singaporean cooking, widely considered to be an authority on Asian cuisine, specializing in Nyonya food. Her reputation as a chef and food connoisseur spans the international arena and often represents Singapore as a food ambassador abroad. Violet’s career began in journalism in 1971 as an Arts and Music critic and then as the food critic for the Singapore newspaper the New Nation. She was later the food critic for the Sunday Times. Driven by her passion for sharing good food, Violet started her own culinary magazine called The Food Paper in 1987. Violet shared her culinary experiences and cooking skills with TV audiences in programmes filmed and aired by the BBC, CNN, The Food Network and also by Singapore’s Channel 5 where she had her own cooking programme called What’s Cooking in the 1980’s. The culinary doyenne received the highest accolade recently - Lifetime Achievement for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism. She wrote three cookbooks: Peranakan Cooking, Violet Oon Cooks and A Singapore Family Cookbook and in 2016 was inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations.


Should you be unable to attend this programme, please release your slot using the ‘self-cancellation’ function in the automated email. This will free up the slot for another person. There is no waitlist for this programme.


Free admission, pre-registration required.




About the festival 

This year, the sixth instalment of Read! Fest is anchored on the theme of Voyage. Book a trip with us and discover alternative forms of reading at Read! Fest 2019 programmes as we journey through space and time, only from 22 June – 28 July.


For more details, visit




Central Public Library

100 Victoria Street, National Library Board, Singapore