THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Cooking Classes at School of Wok

Last weekend, after an all-day extravaganza at the BBC Good Food Show – I cannot recommend this highly enough, book your tickets for next year – my intrepid photographer and I embarked on a journey of discovery at the Soho-based School of Wok. Playfully named, there is nothing childish about the undertaking of the chefs/teachers at the helm. Their mission is to teach Asian cuisine to the masses, be it Chinese, Singaporean, or any other regional variation.

We were put through our paces, first with a vegetarian egg-fried noodle dish, with spring onions cut at a “jaunty angle”, as was apparently crucial to the process; then the group split, half tackling the classic beef in black bean sauce, while the others grappled with sea bass. After an excellent demonstration from our resident expert Nev, who guided the group through our magical mystery tour of Asian gastronomy, we were let loose on the woks, more or less one per person, although my cameraman and I teamed up for moral support. Perhaps the most important pieces of kit in the whole kitchen were the industrial-strength extractor fans, crucial for dealing with cooking at the intensely high heat that, Nev informed us, was essential.

One might be forgiven for thinking that the cooking experience was all you had signed up for, but there is an equally enjoyable part of your evening left, once you have completed your cooking masterclass. Once everyone has finished their respective dishes, they are served up and the whole class gather round one of the tables in the front restaurant, and dig in. Nev informed us that our noodles were in fact the tastiest, so we were perhaps a bit robbed by this communal approach, but it is a sociable way to meet your fellow chefs-to-be, who may have been too engrossed in making sure their mushrooms didn’t burn during the cooking segment of the evening.

Nev cracked out a bottle of wine, and we all sampled our neighbours’ contributions to the feast, and soon the table was wok-ing with conversation and good cheer. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to expand his or her cooking repertoire, or if you’re out of ideas for an inventive dinner date. If you’re in the latter category, a trip round the corner to The Experimental Cocktail Bar is an easy way of impressing your companion.

More information here.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, James Bomford.