School of Wok – Woking with Jeremy Pang

SCHOOL OF WOK

School of Wok in Covent Garden has been doing some fine work in recent years. Founded by Jeremy Pang who comes from a long line of Chinese restaurateurs, School of Wok has been running for about 4 years and is one of the few Chinese Cookery Schools in the UK. Before opening School of Wok, Jeremy was already teaching students Chinese cookery at homes, trying to share with them the true essence of Chinese cooking. His enthusiasm of the subject matter is striking and is a testament to why School of Wok has seen such success.

School of Wok - London Food Blog - Woking with Jeremy Pang

School of Wok – Woking with Jeremy Pang

Last week I attended an event at the School of Wok to learn some wok skills from Jeremy. The class was called “Understanding the Wok” and was to showcase the new Dexam School of Wok wok range, made by Dexam in consultation with Jeremy. The woks are made with carbon steel to heat up quickly and bamboo handles for easy handling. What’s more, the woks are light, to enable the cook to lift the wok and easily toss the food!

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Cookery School Social

Cookery School - Our charming host, Rosalind

Our charming host, Rosalind

I went to a cooking social at Cookery School last Thursday hosted by its founder Rosalind Rathouse. Cookery School opened ten years ago and aims to bring cooking to a wider audience by demystifying and simplifying some classic home cooking techniques. What’s more, and this is the piece I admired the most about Cookery School, is that it focuses on sustainability.

Over 75% of the ingredients used at Cookery School are both organic and sourced locally, all food waste is recycled and Cookery School also has a ‘no plastics’ policy. Therefore, not only does Cookery School not use any plastic, it also chooses supplies that are delivered in glass or tins. It is for this reason that Cookery School was awarded a Three Star Rating – the highest possible – from the Sustainability Restaurant Association (SRA) for the last two years running.

Cookery School - Piping sponge fingers

Piping sponge fingers

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L’atelier des Chefs – Spanish Masterclass

Cookery school L’atelier des Chefs run an impressive range of cookery classes including French classics, macaroon making, bread baking and knife skills, to name but a few. You can also choose by length of class starting from the “Cook, Eat and Run” classes (starting from £15 for 30 minutes) to masterclasses that last for several hours and cost up to £144.

L'atelier des Chefs

L’atelier des Chefs

The school operates out of two locations, Oxford Circus and St Paul’s, and it was to the latter that I headed to for the Spanish masterclass (£144). Head Chef was Neil Matthews who comes with an impressive CV, having worked at one-Michelin starred The Castle Hotel, two-Michelin starred Gidleigh Park with Michael Caines and Roux’s three-Michelin starred Waterside Inn. Neil also did a stint at the River Cottage organic farm with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall before joining L’atelier des Chefs at the beginning of 2012.

Head Chef Neil Matthews

Head Chef Neil Matthews

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The Chop House – Lamb Butchery Masterclass

Chop House head chef Martin Kroon

Chop House head chef Martin Kroon

The Chop House at Butlers Wharf is hosting a series of butchery masterclasses at the restaurant.
Run by Head Chef Martin Kroon, we covered the butchery of a Blackface lamb from Ben Weatherall’s 6,000 acre estate in Dumfriesshire in South West Scotland.

The lamb

The lamb

I covered lamb butchery when I attended Westminster Kingsway Cookery College, but I still found it interesting to watch the process again. Most of us tend to stick to best end, leg and shoulder cuts, but Martin proved very informative as he provided commentary during the session on how each cut of lamb should be cooked to achieve optimal results. Martin does all his own animal butchery. Purchasing an animal whole is more economical than purchasing cuts of meat. In this way, Martin is able to buy better quality meat for the restaurant whilst keeping his costs down.

Chef Martin showing off his butchery skills

Chef Martin showing off his butchery skills

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Feng Sushi – Masterclass in Sushi Making

I went to a sushi making masterclass at Feng Sushi a couple of weeks ago. The class was run by Feng Sushi co-founder Silla Bjerrum. Her CV is impressive. She was the first woman to be invited to the prestigious 7 Samurai Sushi Competition in 2008, and she has regularly travelled to Japan to study sushi making.

Silla, and the beginnings of a roll

Silla, and the beginnings of a roll

Silla is an advocate of sustainable fishing, and this is evident in the choice of seafood used at Feng sushi: Loch Duart sustainable salmon, line caught mackerel, local crabs and hand dived scallops from The Ethical Shellfish Company. I previously knew little about the sourcing of the ingredients at Feng Sushi, but this session provided me with assurance that Feng Sushi operates on a sustainable and ethical basis.

The class provided me with some insights into the art of sushi making. Getting the rice just right is one of the most important aspects of making sushi, and a critical tip I picked up was to wash the sushi rice for ten times to get rid of the starch, and letting it rest for half an hour before cooking. Another good tip I learnt was to cover the bamboo rolling mats with cling film to protect them.

Avocado & ginger maki

Avocado & ginger maki

Crab and avocado iso maki

Crab and avocado iso maki

During the class we made cucumber maki, avocado maki with pickled ginger, crab and avocado iso maki, iso maki with hand-dived scallop, prawn tempura hand roll and salmon nigiri. We also watched Silla fillet, marinate and cut mackerel sashimi, and cut salmon sashimi. The class was very interesting, although I must confess that my sushi and maki making skills need some work. As they say, practice makes perfect.

Iso maki with hand-dived scallop

Iso maki with hand-dived scallop

Salmon sashimi

Salmon sashimi

Marinated mackerel sashimi

Marinated mackerel sashimi

If you are interested in attending one of Silla’s masterclasses, click on the link here. Silla also teaches at Leith’s, Divertimenti and Billingsgate and speaks regularly about sushi and sustainability, (most recently at The Sustainable Seafood Awards 2009 at Billingsgate).


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Waitrose Cookery School

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to a preview evening at the new Waitrose cookery where we were treated to a macaroon masterclass. The school opened this Monday and is situated above the Waitrose John Barnes branch on Finchley Road.

The cookery school is state of the art. No expense was spared to fit it out and it has those sleek white lines that are the trademark look of all the Waitrose supermarkets. I was very impressed. It’s spacious and comfortable and far classier than my days spent in the kitchens at Westminster Kingsway Cookery College.

Waitrose Cookery School

Waitrose Cookery School

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Discover the Origin at La Cucina Caldesi

Discover the Origin

A couple of weeks I went to a ‘Discover the Origin’ event at La Cucina Caldesi Italian Cookery School. Discover the Origin is a campaign representing Italy, France and Portugal in support of five key products from those countries which bear protected origin designations such as Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). Protected origin designations provides assurance to the consumer about the provenance, quality and the authenticity of the origin of the product. With a trend towards ethical sourcing and seasonal produce, etc, greater awareness in this area only seems fitting.

The five key products supported by Discover the Origin are Parma ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)), Burgundy wine (AOC) and Port and Douro Valley wines (Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC)). As a case in point, Parmigiano-Reggiano is not to be confused with any ordinary parmesan cheese. Under Italian law, only versions of this hard granular cheese produced in the Italian areas of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna and Mantova may be called Parmigiano-Reggiano – hence the PDO designation. Similar cheeses produced elsewhere are instead to be called parmesan.

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(Cookery) School Excursion to Tottenham Hotspurs (Day 20)

White Hart Lane

For our cookery class this week, we paid a visit to White Hart Lane, home to the Tottenham Hotspurs. This might seem an unusual trip for cookery students to make, but a few weeks ago, Stephen Hurley, the head Chef of Kudos Hospitality, the organisation that provides the on-site catering for the Spurs, paid our Cookery School a visit. As a consequence, the gesture was reciprocated to us. Stephen, a Chef with almost 20 years experience, joined Tottenham last year after spending a couple of years as Head Chef at Restaurant Associates. Prior to that he was the Lead Chef for Compass All Leisure at Twickenham Stadium.

I can’t remember the last time I went on a ‘school excursion’, but rest assured, this was a little different. We didn’t have to hold hands and we weren’t made to walk in an orderly fashion. Nor did we get told off for chatting too loudly on the school bus. It was all very civilised, although I was probably a little naughty at certain points of the tour, holding the others up a little bit with my picture taking.

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