Jeremy Pang is a superhero. He must be. How else to explain his Festive Taste of London schedule – teaching forty-four people to cook every hour, throughout the entire four days? It will be, he confesses, ‘pretty intense’. No kidding. Jeremy and his team will be teaching not one, but three dishes in 20 minutes, at the AEG Let'sTaste Live kitchen: three dishes he says anyone will be able to recreate at home.
‘We're going to start with a lotus leaf chicken, which comes with a traditional Chinese sausage and lotus root, so we can tell people all about the lotus plant and how to use it. They'll learn how to steam the chicken and roll it up in the leaf like a mini spring roll.’
All the ingredients will be carefully portioned out for the hands-on sessions, including all the elements of a traditional Chinese Five Spice; ‘It's quite Christmassy – there's always star anise, cinnamon, clove, along with garlic or ginger and mandarin peel. We'll teach people how to use it sparingly: there's enough strength in just a pinch.’
The lesson won't stop there. He'll be teaching a Hunan beef dish with stir-fried noodles, which has a hefty kick of chilli, and chicken wings in a roasted plum sauce. Quite the feast, which those quick enough to sign up for the classes will be able to scoff down as they go along. ‘Then we'll turn round and do it all over again.’
As if this breakneck schedule wasn't enough, Jeremy will somehow be finding time to squeeze in a cooking demo on the main stage, together with acclaimed Indian chef Alfred Prasad. They'll be combining Chinese cooking with Alfred's Indian Nepalese-style food, in dumpling form.
‘I'll be showing how to make the pastry, and the folding technique, while Alfred will deal with the spices, as well as making some koftas and chutneys. We're almost using it as a test for a class we'll be holding together next year, to see how it goes down with the Taste of London audience.’ The collaboration reveals his passion for exploring other cuisines, trying as many restaurants as he can, and keeping his own School of Wok cookery school team motivated with regular supper clubs, showcasing different kinds of food. ‘It all keeps things fun!’
Jeremy is now such a key part of Taste of London it's hard to believe he's only been part of the itinerary for a few years. ‘I started doing a few demos in 2012 – then got more heavily involved through the 'Secret Ingredient' theatre and it all took off from there.’
It certainly did take off: this summer, 1600 people got the chance to learn his cookery skills over the five day Taste of London festival – with a shopping list to match, including an astonishing 4800 red chillis.