“The adventure began when I saw an advert on The Food Teachers Centre Facebook page for a CPD workshop & training course with FUN:) Healthy Chinese Cooking at the Ming-Ai Institute in London. Fast forward to July 2017 and unbelievably I was boarding a flight to Hong Kong as one of the three winners of the competition to experience the food and culture in Hong Kong and China. The five days that followed proved to be an amazing experience that I will never forget.
On our first night in Hong Kong we visited the Infinitus Building where we had a very interesting talk on the history of food culture in Hong Kong, followed by a ten course fine dining experience that included delicacies such as suckling pig, chilli prawns, jelly fish and moon cakes; all whilst taking in the spectacular view of Victoria Harbour at nightfall from the 38th floor.
A Level 8 typhoon was all part of the experience, but fortunately the typhoon threat dropped & enabled us to visit magical temples and gardens. The mystical smell of incense, the tourists & people at prayer, the statues, red lanterns, architecture, bonsai trees & tinkling fountains all contributed to the feeling of peace & tranquility with the sky scrapers in the background.
The teacher exchange day provided an interesting insight into the types of foods & dishes that are taught to students in Hong Kong. It was lovely to see the students, quiet and shy to begin with, but as the morning progressed become more chatty and involved with helping with the demonstrations & having a go at some of the techniques.
The visit to the wet market was the most eye opening experience. The fruit & vegetable stalls were colourful vibrant and fresh with such a diverse range of ingredients, some familiar but many that were not. The fresh meat area showed that every part of the animal is used, with displays of trotters, ears, offal, snouts & tails as well as the more usual cuts of meat. We saw live chickens and toads in cages, then live fish swimming in tanks and fish leaping about on metal trays. Freshness is the most important aspect of buying food from the market and apparently once the fish dies it is cheaper. There were also stalls selling every type of dried food you could imagine, fish, meat, tofu, rice, noodles, tea, herbs, spices and many others. The whole market was jam packed with produce available for the local residents who usually shop every day.
Our visit to China took us through the immigration process between Hong Kong & China – just fascinating to see the diversity of people making the journey and reinforced the view that nobody queues like the British!! The whole China segment of the trip was just fascinating - visiting the Lee Kum Kee Factory and eating a very tasty meal in the canteen, seeing the production lines, the huge soya sauce tanks and the sheer scale of the site with room for future development and finding out about the company commitment and contribution to the local community. Orange tea tasting in the afternoon was lovely, followed by a private dining experience which included delicately steamed fish and chicken feet!!
Another highlight of the trip was the visit to the Chinese Culinary Institute – I don’t think I have ever seen such an impressive catering college. Different teaching kitchens for different geographical cuisines, a superb demonstration and competition kitchen and an impressive bar and restaurant with the most incredible view over the coastline. The rooms in the ‘T’ training hotel were so luxurious that if I visit Hong Kong again I know where I’d like to stay.
The whole trip was just amazing & there were so many highlights but of course the food that we had was just delicious. Such a variety of different cuisines & locations from fine dining to busy restaurants where we had so many different types of food including dim sum, Peking duck, numb and spicy dishes and of course the tea houses where we had the gorgeous custard tarts.
Thank you so much for giving my daughter and I the experience of a lifetime. The whole trip was well organised & informative with so many things that I will be able to pass onto my pupils, as well as being great fun with lovely people.”