The new staff at the Norwegian Church in Singapore have already taken up their positions. The head of the kitchen promises that good traditional Norwegian food will stay on the menu.
The ticking clock on the wall shows that there is still 38 minutes left. At 12.00 on September 12, the Thursday lunch has to be ready for the residing Norwegians in Singapore to dig into the rich buffet table with good traditional Norwegian food. ”Husmandskost” as the new kitchen leader Steinar Dale Wessman prefers to call it.
In the busy kitchen, every corner is used for chopping or preparing the lunch. Lettuce, leeks, and leftovers from the Sunday’s barbecue are nicely decorated on dishes making the time to the lunch seem endless. Even the priest herself is chopping vegetables to help finish the lunch in time. Still, somebody finds time to offer the reporter, who is probably standing in the wrong spot no matter where she is standing, a cup of coffee and of course free flow of homemade traditional waffles.
This is indeed a little piece of Norway appearing on top of the hill at Pasir Panjang Road in the South West end of the city of Singapore. The address is the same as when it opened in 1955, but this summer the staff has changed. Among them the new kitchen chef Steinar Dale Wessman, who back in Norway was a high school teacher from the city of Kristiansand in Norway.
On the big terrace a couple of guests are already sitting, waiting for the lunch to be served.
”It is a very nice way to meet people, have a good talk and have some good food for lunch,” one of the guests says. He adds that he does not come every Thursday, but ”often”.
Traditionally, the food served at the lunch is as Norwegian as possible and today’s menu is no exception. “Stuffed cabbage leafs, coalfish and potatosalad”.
”It is a retro meal from the 1970s,” Steinar Dale Wessmann explains.
”It is not like it is written anywhere, but we want to keep the tradition and cook traditional Norwegian food for the Torsdagslunsj,” Steinar says.
After just a couple of weeks in his new job, he is still dealing with what might be one of the biggest concerns of a chef. Will there be enough food?
”It is always hard to tell. We can be everything between 30-80 guests, so here in the beginning I will still have to learn how much food to cook from time to time,”
This Thursday around 45 people have found their way to the hilltop, where the church is located. And just as the peace of eating fills up the room, a group of women come down the stairs from the 1. floor to join the lunch.
”They are here for the lunch every Thursday,” the priest Eva Marie Jansvik, explains.
“We give the lunch and in return they help produce the Christmas stuff for this year’s Christmas Bazar,” she adds.
Filling the room with laughter and lively small talk the women from upstairs contribute to the good atmosphere in the church. The amount of food now seems more reasonable.
As the captain should always be be the last man to leave a sinking ship, Steinar is the last one to fill his plate with food. No need to worry, today’s amount of food was more than sufficient.
“What is left over from today, we can use on Sunday for the barbeque,” he says, apparently already planning in advance for the menu on the following Sunday.