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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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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(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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When the Honeymoon is Over – Cookery School (Day 18)

They say in a relationship there is a honeymoon period, during which time you are usually on your best behaviour. But there will come a point in the relationship when the dynamics change, and there is no longer a need to be polite to one another. Well, it seems that ours is well and truly over. Readers will know that a few weeks ago, G and R came to blows over the use of one pasta rolling machine, resulting in G descending into a heated tirade. This week, it was my turn to loose my cool.

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The Case of the Temperamental Ovens – Cookery School (Day 15)

This week we covered short pastry. We made leek, asparagus and blue cheese tart (yum), chicken and mushroom pie (delicious) and lamb pasties (ok). There was lots of prep, so it ended up being a rather long day. But making the pastries wasn’t so much the challenge as trying to bake them in the ovens at college. The ovens can be a bit temperamental, and they don’t always work as they should. After half an hour of baking, my pies still would not cook, and it took two oven changes, and a further 20 minutes before I achieved a result.

Chicken & mushroom pie

Chicken & mushroom pie

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Drama at College – Cookery School (Day 12)

There was lots of drama and excitement at Cookery School this week. We had barely set up our work stations in the kitchen when the fire alarm went off. It wasn’t quite as loud as the piercing, tortuous wailing noise that emits from the alarm in my kitchen when I smoke it out (and which simply refuses to stop sounding no matter how hard I try to fan it), but it was still pretty loud. A mass evacuation ensured, and when I say ‘mass’, I mean the entire school. So here we were, hundreds of cookery students and chefs in whites lining the streets outside the college.

A sea of students

A sea of students

At one point, a fire engine turned up.

The fire engine

The fire engine

And then a police car.

The police car

The police car

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The Dreaded Blue Plaster – Cookery School (Days 10 & 11)

Up until now, I had managed to avoid the dreaded blue plaster (band aid). It comes out when you cut yourself. When this happens, you tell Chef, and he’ll saunter off to locate one from the first aid kit. It’s blue, a dark blue to be precise. This means that it can be easily spotted in the event that it accidentally drops off and falls into the food.

But this also means that everyone knows you’ve been clumsy with the knife for that dreaded blue plaster is pretty hard to miss. Almost one third of the way through my course and I thought I had managed to escape from the dreaded blue curse. But I’ve been watching my fellow students slowly succumb one by one to this fate. So it was inevitable (sigh) that I would fall too, and the other day I finally met with my destiny. But the stupidity of it was I didn’t cut myself because I had been butchering a whole chicken, or from finely dicing an onion or the like. Oh no, nothing glamorous like that. I suffered my cut washing my vegetable peeler. Go figure.

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