Few chefs of Oriental cuisine can boast the success of Ken Hom. Widely recognised as a leading authority on Asian cooking, the Michelin-starred celebrity chef is a household name the world over. He’s spent a career travelling the globe in search of new, exciting and exotic flavours – and now, he’s coming to Tunbridge Wells for a guest course at our school on February 3!
“My emphasis is on techniques, which is the building block of any good cooking,” he says of his upcoming visit to Kent. “Interaction with the students is my favourite part of teaching – I always learn from my students.”
Teaming up with Rosemary Shrager, the legendary master of Chinese food will deliver an intimate class. From cooking the perfect steamed rice, to more exotic dishes like Sichuan dumplings in spicy sauce and steamed salmon with black beans, Ken Hom and Rosemary are set to guide their pupils through a selection of recipes and techniques.
Following initial demonstrations, guests are invited back to their workstations to get stuck into recreating some of Ken Hom's signature meals, followed by an opportunity to ask questions during a relaxed dinner with the two tutors. But does the famous cook have any favourite delicacies that he loves to pass on?
“Probably Peking duck,” he responds. “Nothing beats super crispy skin and the dark, rich meat of duck!”
It’s not just Ken Hom's innovative approach to traditional Eastern fare that’s got him where he is today. In addition to his 92-seat MEE restaurant in Rio de Janeiro – not to mention an honorary OBE for ‘services to culinary arts’ – he’s enjoyed global entrepreneurial and media renown, selling over eight million woks worldwide, and promoting a plethora of cookbooks and TV programmes.
Despite such acclaim, however, the secret behind Ken Hom's success seems surprisingly straightforward: “Everyone loves their food and to eat, so any chef or cook who shows the way to achieve that goal is naturally loved and honoured. Longevity counts as well!”
Of course, Ken Hom's journey has been peppered with personal and professional milestones. For him, key highlights include the publication of his first book in 1981, alongside the launch of his inaugural BBC series in 1984. The birth of the Ken Hom wok in 1986 was another standout moment, while working with Ching He Huang on his series in China was likewise hugely impactful.
A charitable approach to his work has been fundamental too. Action Against Hunger, the NSPCC and Prostate Cancer UK (he was diagnosed with the condition in 2010) are all close to his heart, and he remains an ambassador for the GREAT campaign, showcasing the best of British food. As for his creative process, hindsight is essential, as he’s always learning from the past to move forward.
“I think about what I want to eat, or something I’ve eaten and been inspired by,” he explains. “As a foundation for creating any recipe, I use recipes I’ve created in the past as a format, then build on them, altering the ingredients and looking for new, fresh flavours – and voila! – a new original recipe is born.”
So, any words of wisdom for the budding Ken Homs joining us at the cookery school in 2019?
“Prepare all your ingredients, get your wok hot, then add the oil,” he declares. “Finally, never panic, and keep wokking!”
To book your space for our Cooking with Ken Hom OBE course on February 3, click here.