Chinese food is one of those cuisines that has had a bad rep in this country. Either its greasy, MSG-fied radioactive sweet and sour chicken or it’s a boring old stir fry with a splash of soya sauce. Having spoken to so many people about Chinese cooking, it’s obvious that people’s repertoire of this well-known cuisine is considerably limited.
School of Wok dispels all the myths about Chinese cooking, in that it teaches home cooks that delicious dishes don’t need to be difficult or made with a hundred ingredients which you’ve never heard of. Jeremy Pang, mastermind behind School of Wok, teaches a range of dishes from takeaway favourites like crispy shredded beef to Chinese classics such as dim sum and hand pulled noodles.
I was lucky enough to meet Jeremy before doing one of his classes to talk through his culinary history and inspiration to open School of Wok in Covent Garden. Jeremy enthusiastically shows me photos of family who run their own food establishments, including Kowloon Bakery in Chinatown where I’ve been eating BBQ pork buns, red bean buns and pandan cake for a good eighteen years. He explains that School of Wok started as a mobile cooking school in private homes, providing a bespoke service for people who wanted to learn their favourite Chinese classics. Tired of teaching the same recipes Jeremy took the plunge and opened School of Wok’s cookery school in May 2012. With appearances at Taste of London and Sunday Brunch, the school has become a great hit and with good reason too.
Jeremy’s classes teaches the fundamentals of Chinese cooking and the basic ingredients that are the backbone to this cuisine. Many of the school’s classes teaches dishes straight out of Jeremy’s new book, Chinese Unchopped, which shows cleaver skills and how to handle the almighty Wok. I had the great opportunity of making handmade gyozas, black bean rib eye beef and Sichuan braised aubergine, all cooked in a state of art kitchen come wok-smoking sauna.
What I enjoyed about the classes the most (apart from eating the fruits of your labour) is Jeremy himself. He’s a great teacher and probably the most articulate and meticulous one I’ve had in the great many cooking classes I’ve been to. It is a real pleasure watching his demonstrations on slicing, chopping and most of all effortlessly pleating folds into dumplings. He explains the cooking methods and skills in great detail and he’s humble enough to explain the mistakes he’s made in his culinary journeys which adds real integrity to the class.
For someone who prides themselves on being a good (but in my head fantastic) home cook, particularly in Oriental cooking, I am completely impressed by School of Wok; I didn’t expect to learn so much in three hours. It is definitely an experience well worth paying for when you consider that aside from the great cooking lesson, the great meal afterwards and Jeremy’s cookbook to take home; you get to do it all in the heart of London, in Covent Garden and about a 30 second walk from The Harp.
I’m already rallying a group of friends to return for an evening out so if you’re interested in doing the same (which I most definitely recommend you do) you can find out more about their classes at www.schoolofwok.co.uk
School of Wok most definitely rocks (sorry it had to be done).
School of Wok
61 Chandos Place, London, WC2N 4HG