I’m doing a throwback post today, casting my mind back to early April…
Travel Weekly, along with the Macau Tourist Board hosted a competition some time ago and I was lucky enough to be one of the winners!
The prize: an evening at the School of Wok along with an overnight stay at The Strand Hotel in Covent Garden, London.
Amazing! I was so excited, although I had no idea whatsoever what to expect when it came to Macanese food. All I knew was that it meant a couple of days in my favourite city outside of Manchester.
The last time I took part in a cookery experience was down in Kingston at Busaba. I’m not the best chef in the world but I do enjoy cooking, so I was looking forward to learning some new skills and adding to my repertoire.
The Strand Hotel:
Staying at The Strand hotel has well and truly spoilt me. The hotel is grand, seriously huge, so big we actually had to form an orderly queue to check in. What I loved most about it was how perfect its location was. It makes me sad thinking of how far I usually have to travel to get so central 🙁 The room itself was basic, but lets be honest, when you’re staying in Covent Garden how much time are you going to spend in your room??
My highlight was being able to turn the corner and go for an early sunrise run along the Embankment – it was the most peaceful moment I’ve ever spent in London. I blogged this week about how great running is and that morning, pounding the pavement alongside the Thames gave me an amazing feeling of freedom (also brought back feelings of wanting to move to the big city!?! eek!)
School of Wok:
Jeremy’s School of wok is a wonderful set up. An award-winning cookery school in the heart of Covent Garden. The space was large enough to fit our group but the room was still intimate and welcoming. The atmosphere was more private dinner party than strict cooking class.
As well as regular cooking classes, they’ve hosted charity events, held specialist cooking nights with big chefs from the London food scene, focusing on Asian and Oriental cuisine.
And they were the first to host a Macanese cookery class in London!
Cooking with Big Phang & Little Pang:
Jeremy -Descended from three generations of Chinese chefs, after starting out in marketing, Jeremy decided to follow his heart and go back into cooking (what a great choice that was!)
Jonathon – Former Britains Next top model judge turned celebrity chef. With a number of TV shows, cook books and gastronomical adventures under his belt, Jonathon knows his food and then some!
Well as a pair, they were a blast. A perfect culinary combination. A fabulous fusion of kitchen skills and banter and I think it’s safe to say, the other winners and I had a fantastic evening because of them.
We learnt that Macanese food scene is one of the world’s first fusion cuisines, combining elements of Portuguese, Indian, South American, Malaysian and African influences mixed in with local Chinese styles.
One of the many great moments of the evening was when Jeremy walked over and gifted me with a whole baby chicken in its packet – labelled HALAL. I say gifted because to me, that was such a thoughtful thing to do and it genuinely brought real joy to my evening because the marinade for the chicken smelt amazing and I would have been so sad to miss out! Like every GREAT chef, Jeremy ensured all dietary requirements were met making sure no one missed out.
On the menu that night: African Chicken, grilled chilli prawns and prawn rissoles. We paired-up and worked on stations in the kitchen with Jeremy and Jonathon on hand to make sure we were on track and having a good time.
Dinner Macanese Style:
After a couple of hours in the kitchen, it was then time to enjoy the fruits of our labour and I’d say we did a pretty good job. I completely polished my meal (bearing in mind I had a WHOLE chicken to myself). I couldn’t quite believe how well it had turned out.
A room full of travel specialists, we spent the evening laughing, chatting, exchanging travel tales and stories with our entertaining hosts. Definitely, a dinner party to remember.
Ever since I laid eyes on Macau in Skyfall, I’ve always been intrigued by the Asian Las Vegas, it’s been on Mo’s must-see list for a while. Taking part in this cookery experience evening was a wonderful introduction to this mystical land across the Pearl River. Food plays a big part in any travel experience and this was a great way to get to know a place I’ve yet to visit.
*** A huge thank you to Travel Weekly, Sue and the team at Macau Tourist Board for organising such a fabulous prize package & thanks to Jonathon and Jeremy for being wonderful hosts ***