Ask a primary school student what their favourite subject at school is—more often than not, you’ll get a resounding “recess!”

For a lot of us, recess time holds some of our fondest memories of our youth and schooling life. Chope-ing your favourite table in the canteen, fighting over who should return the plates, catching up with your friends from different classes in between subject periods… we’ve all been there.

The Theatre Practice brings back all the warmth and fellowship of those good old days in their Recess Time programme, held on select Fridays at their Practice Tuckshop.

Recess Time promises a yummy three-course meal prepared by a rotating cast of Practice family and friends, but it’s not just any old meal. Each chef (or Makan Master, as they’re known) puts their own spin on the menu. We got the chance to attend one of the Recess Time sessions last month, and it was an extremely heartwarming experience.

For our session, it was Chef Priscill Koh and Sous Chef Mazlan Boyamin taking the stage with a competely vegan menu of Chicken Rendang with Acar, Blue Pea Rice, and Gula Melaka Flan. Every meal also comes with a free flow of Practice 54 tea, a mix of traditional English and Chinese tea brewed specially for The Theatre Practice by Pek Sin Choon, one of Singapore’s oldest tea merchants.

According to Chef Priscill, 95% of the ingredients they used came from a food rescue earlier that week. Recess Time partners with SG Food Rescue to make use of excess veggies that would otherwise be thrown away. So it doesn’t just offer a space for local chefs to present their art, but also combats food wastage in Singapore!

As a country, we throw away more than 2 million kilograms of food a day. This food is perfectly edible, and it can even be used to prepare delicious meals. The amazing thing is, you can’t even tell that they’re ‘unsellable’.

Veggies rescued from Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre

These veggies are usually cast off because they don’t look as nice as others aesthetically. The Practice Tuckshop team and guest chefs conduct their own quality control to make sure that they’re fine for consumption. And the chefs make them look pretty damn good anyway:

Vegan Chicken Rendang with Acar and Blue Pea Rice, Practice 54 tea, Vegan Gula Melaka Flan

I was also blown away by Chef Priscill and Sous Chef Mazlan’s vegan menu. The food scene in Singapore has definitely been offering more yummy options for vegans and vegetarians, but there are only so many (pricey) Impossible Burgers you can have. This menu, crafted with care, was honestly better than a lot of non-vegan meals I’ve had.

“People say that it’s very difficult to cook vegetarian meals,” Chef Priscill told me. “But I don’t think so. It’s easy!” Though she doesn’t often cook full vegetarian meals, it’s “about 90% of the plate at home”. A freelance culinary instructor, consultant, and part-time urban farmer, her current passion involves creating healthy alternative dishes that are super yummy and have a local twist.

The main course, for starters, tasted exactly like chicken rendang. If I wasn’t told it was vegan, I would never have known. In fact, vegetables are pretty low on my ranking of favourite food groups, but these were so good that I ate everything on the plate.

For the dessert, instead of using eggs which is normally the main ingredient for flan, Chef Priscill opted for tofu and agar-agar as the setting agent. There’s a common stereotype that vegan and vegetarian dishes are generally less tasty or flavourful, have strange textures, etc. But the Gula Melaka Flan I had was smooth and silky, with just the right firmness.

One thing I (and many other participants we’ve heard from) really appreciate is the commitment that these chefs have to their craft. Recess Time is, first and foremost, a platform for Makan Masters to express their creativity, and for foodies to gather and share their stories.

It works on a pay-as-you-wish system, with every dollar going into Practice’s various outreach programmes.

Pay-as-you-wish system (recommended donation: S$8)

But paying as you wish doesn’t mean that you get a lower quality of food at Recess Time—far from it. The chefs put their heart and soul into the preparation, flavour, and presentation of each and every plate they serve.

They also enjoy chatting with participants about their culinary journey and passions. And whether you’re talking to a Makan Master, one of the Practice organisers, or a fellow participant, you can’t miss the warm, familial atmosphere of the place.

“Speak to the people around you”, the blackboard at the counter says. It’s great advice.

As Chef Priscill says, these recipes are “ones that people can enjoy in the way we enjoy good conversation, good company, and the comfort of friends and family.”

Sharing tables with other people and getting to know them makes up a huge part of the communal dining experience—everyone comes to the table with different experiences, preferences, and reasons for being there. That’s what makes Recess Time so fun!

An artist with his sketches of the chefs and food

Recess Time is scheduled for specific Fridays from 12pm to 1.30pm (upcoming dates listed below). The next one is on 12 July, and they’ll also be holding special sessions for the M1 Patch! festival. Head to their site for more info and the latest updates.

The specific menu for each session is kept under wraps, but Practice Tuckshop usually uploads teaser images of the ingredients used on Instagram beforehand. Limited portions are available on a first-come-first-served basis. You can contact them on Facebook to check availability for future sessions and to secure your spot!

Apart from Recess Time events, Practice Tuckshop is open from 10.30am to 5.30pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays. It’s an open space for anyone and everyone to just gather and chill with friends, or even to do work (there’s free Wifi!) in a cosy, comfortable environment.

The regular menu on these days consists of the popular KiKi Noodles, a range of healthy sun-dried noodles from Taiwan, in Aromatic Scallion and Sichuan Pepper flavours. They also offer award-winning coffee from 2º North Coffee Co. and, of course, the exclusive Practice 54 tea in hot, cold, and even sparkling variations.

Mark the upcoming Recess Time dates in your calendar and clear your Friday lunch appointments for some wholesome culinary creativity and conversation! Once you’ve tried it, we’re sure you’ll be back for more.

Recess Time
Opening hours: 12pm – 1.30pm
Upcoming dates: 12.07, 26.07, 16.08, 23.08, 13.09, 27.09
Recommended donation: S$8

Practice Tuckshop
Opening hours: 10.30am – 5.30pm, Tuesday – Saturday (closed on PH)
Address: 58 Waterloo Street, Singapore 187953 (next to TTP)