Here’s a question for all of you out there. Have you ever been to prison? I’m not sure if you have, but last weekend, I was invited to Penjara Bentong by Resorts World Genting for their CSR programme “Beauty Behind the Wall” and it was quite an experience.
Going to prison is something that never come across my mind; whether as prisoner or as a visitor, and I was hoping that I never would have any troubles woth the law to the point that I will have to be in prison, but I’m glad that I’m given a chance to join in the Resorts World Genting for their CSR programme “Beauty Behind the Wall” at Bentong Prison and get a peek on what’s really going on behind all those tall walls.
“Beauty Behind the Wall”, saw Resorts World Genting chefs worked together with Her Highness Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah to train the inmates in upgrading their culinary skills. Also present during the programme was Prison Department Pahang State Director Datuk Ab Basir Mohamad and Vice President of Resorts Communication&Public Relations of Resorts World Genting, Ms. Katherine Chew. For those who are not aware, most prisons in Malaysia functioned as a rehab centre for the inmates and they give chances to the inmates to generate their own income. The Bentong Prison for example is well known for its Pastry Workshop that supplies the products produced by the inmates to external parties such as donuts, ‘muruku’ and cookies that channels the income back to them. Focusing on educating female inmates and female staff of Bentong Prison, the “Beauty Behind the Wall” programme covered issues such as food hygiene, kitchen management, culinary technology, dietary nutrition, recipe commercialisation and food industry opportunities, all in the name of ensuring that the inmates have opportunities to support themselves once released.
Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah and Resorts World Genting Executive Chef Alex Vitalise at the prison facility, doing live demo for the female inmates.
Female inmates at Bentong Prison are given a chance to personally learn how to cook special east-meet-west dishes under the royal patronage of Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.
The main ingredients that are used as the base for all the dishes during the live demo with Her Highness the Tengku Puan Pahang and Chef Alex Vitalise are assam pedas and rendang paste.
The pastes are specially made from Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah’s personal recipe that’s published in Her Highness’ cookbook, “Air Tangan Tengku Puan Pahang” and here’s Tengku Puan Pahang checking the whole load of assam pedas and rendang paste that were freshly made from the huge wok.
The assam pedas paste was used as a base for dishes that were prepared that day; Assam Pedas Pasta, Cod Fish Asam Pedas, while the rendang paste was used as sauces and condiment for burgers and appetizers.
Breakfast wrap, Rendang Burger and Appetizers
Assam Pedas Prawn Pasta and Assam Pedas Briyani Rice with a side of Lamb Rendang.
Assorted curry types of dishes made from Assam Pedas and Rendang pastes.
Tengku Puan Pahang had also taught the female inmates how to make cookies earlier prior to the programme and these cookies are being sold by the prison.
” Everyone can make mistakes. But what is important is that we learned from our mistakes, and that society gives us an opportunity to prove that. I do not believe that we should assign blame. My role is to help these women re-enter society with the right kind of attitude that will allow them to live a healthy, productive life beyond these walls. Food has always brought Malaysians together. It seems appropriate to have a channel for these women to learn to cook so that they can have a productive life when they leave. I want to help these women get a second chance,” she said.
Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah and the Penjara Bentong inmates after the programme.
My visit to Penjara Bentong for the
“Beauty Behind the Wall” programme was indeed an educational one and to be honest, it was quite a humbling experience and I’m glad that there are efforts like this to help the inmates prepare themselves to re-enter the society, fully equipped with helpful skills that can help them generate immediate income.