Cooking Tips and Recipes by Top Runner, Marcus Ong

National runner Marcus Ong, 30, who specialises in the 5,000m and 10,000m distances, isn’t just strong at running. That’s because when he is not on the running track, he is also a great chef – having been exposed to cooking since the age of 10.

Said Marcus, “I had initially started cooking when I was 10 and my mother and older brother taught me how to cook fried rice. I think that home-cooking is more healthy (than eating out) because you know exactly what ingredients you are putting into your body, which is important for the health of a national runner.”

When national runner Marcus Ong isn't running, he is in the kitchen cooking.

When national runner Marcus Ong isn’t running, he is in the kitchen cooking.

Healthy and Simple Meals

So the runner’s meals are relatively healthy. For breakfast he will eat wholemeal bread flavoured with for example, cheese or a sprig of rosemary, or cereals with milk.

And his lunch generally consists of sandwiches. Said Marcus, “For the past few days, I have had tuna and egg sandwiches. But I’m generally not too fussy with my sandwich fillings.”

Dinner for Marcus, typically consists of rice served with meat and vegetables.

marcus ong - meal1

Pan fried potato gnocchi with fresh parsley and tomato sauce

For his meats, he normally uses chicken or fish, and has various healthy ways of cooking – which can include pan-frying, steaming or grilling. Said Marcus, “The only cooking method I never use, is deep-frying.”

Also cooks for family and friends

Today, Marcus cooks not only for himself, but also for his family and friends occasionally. He said, “I mostly cook for myself, but sometimes during holidays or weekends, I cook for my family and brother. I usually prepare simple Asian dishes such as meat with vegetables and rice.”

Added  Marcus, “But if it’s a special occasion like Christmas, I prefer Western type dishes with turkey or chicken.”

Despite a wide variety of dishes that he prepares, Marcus added that there are two staple ingredients in his kitchen pantry, that usually accompany the majority of his dishes.

Said the runner, “You need sea salt and black pepper – that is essential to any dish. So I have a large supply of these at home.”

Personal favourite cuisine is Italian

His favourite food to cook, is Italian cuisine, which includes gnocchi with smashed potatoes. Said Marcus, “I usually cook this with brown butter sauce – I generally like Italian food because I find that it suits my palette.”

Marcus says that Italian food is most suited to his palette.

Marcus says that Italian food is most suited to his palette.

Added Marcus, “But if I had to pick one favourite recipe though, then that would be carbonara with turkey bacon and spaghetti. It is simple and clean but it tastes nice at the same time.”

Cooking Tips from Marcus

So what cooking tips does Marcus have to share? He said, “Just cook simply and cleanly. If you eat out, you have no idea what MSG and other ingredients they add to the food, and whether these are harmful to your body.”

Added Marcus, “Whereas when I cook I always trust my instinct with my own ingredients. At the same time it’s also cheaper to do so. For example, if you buy a meal at the food court, it will be 20 bucks per day times one month, and you will spend about 600 bucks altogether. But if I buy the ingredients to cook at home, it works out to cost less than 100 to 200 bucks each month.”

Recipes from Marcus

If you would like to get a small taste of Marcus’s cooking, he has kindly shared two recipes with PrisChew Dot Com – for you to prepare at home.

They are:

  • DIY Cheese Pizza
  • Rosemary bread with extra Virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Said Marcus, “I chose these two recipes because they are quick and simple, and therefore suitable for working adults or busy people like myself.”

He added, “Personally I also like bread, especially the wholemeal variety – it gives you slow energy release throughout the morning so that you will not feel hungry. At the same time it doesn’t stuff you up the way that brown rice or wholegrain pasta would – so that you won’t fall asleep during the morning when you are at work.”

For Marcus, he gets his bread for these two recipes, from Bakery Brera & Fine Foods at Farrer Road: where the owner customises the bread for Marcus.

DIY cheese Pizza 

Preparation time: About 15mins
DIY Cheese Pizza prepared by Marcus.

DIY Cheese Pizza prepared by Marcus.

  • 4 small slices of swiss cheese
  • 1  thyme leaf , finely chopped
  • 1 wholemeal flat bread (Store Bought)
  • Tomato paste (amount depends on your preference)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch of salt
  1. Spread flat bread with tomato paste, followed by swiss cheese in the centre. and sprinkle, chopped thyme leaf over the flat bread.
  2. Put the flat bread into a large pan without oil and cook it at a very low heat 80 degrees C and cover the pan. Do not burn the bottom.
  3. Let cheese melt slowly.
  4. In 15 minutes, the hot and warm DIY cheese pizza will be ready. ..better than pizza hut cheese pizza.

Said Marcus, “In my opinion, this tastes better than Pizza Hut cheese pizza. I actually prefer it plain and simple, but if you want more flavours, you can add different ingredients to it.”

Rosemary bread with extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar

Rosemary Bread prepared by Marcus.

Rosemary Bread prepared by Marcus.

Preparation time: About 4-5 minutes.

Suitable for working adult in the mornings before work.


  • 4 small slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1 loaf of walnut & cranberry bread (Store Bought)
  • 1  rosemary stalk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Tomato paste (amount depends on your preference)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (amount depends on your preference)
  • Balsamic Vinegar (amount depends on your preference)

Said Marcus, “For the walnut & cranberry bread, if you can’t find it, then you can go for the multigrain bread from FairPrice or Cold Storage – these are healthy substitutes.”


  1. Spread bread with tomato paste followed by swiss cheese in the centre and put the rosemary leaf over the bread.
  2. Put the bread without oil into a large pan and heat it at a very low heat 80 degrees C. Also put rosemary leaf at the side of the pan to give the cooking an aromatic smell. Do not burn the bottom.
  3. Into a small bowl, pour extra Virgin olive oil & then balsamic vinegar till you see both liquids fusing together as you are stirring them. Then add a pinch of salt. This can be used for dipping.
  4. After 5mins, take out the bread and rosemary and put it on the plate. The rosemary leaf goes back on the bread.

Said Marcus, “As with the earlier recipe, you can add different ingredients to enhance the flavour, but I prefer it plain and simple.”

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