Festive Taste of London 2015: Jeremy Pang

Festive Taste of London 2015: Jeremy Pang

by Felicity Spector 9 November 2015

Felicity caught up with the incredibly busy Jeremy Pang before his crazy schedule of demos and workshops at this year’s Festive Edition of Taste of London. Showcasing traditional Chinese recipes and ingredients, he’s bringing his knowledge and unquenchable enthusiasm to the festival.

Felicity Spector has worked in national television journalism for nearly thirty years, but has now combined her day job with an increasing interest in food writing in her spare time.

Felicity Spector has worked in national television journalism for twenty-six years, covering everything from the Velvet Revolution in Prague in 1989 to the inauguration of President Obama, but has combined her day job with an increasing interest in food writing in her spare time. Over the last eight years she has been a judge for the Great Taste Awards – and has been privileged to meet loads of fabulous producers, food writers and chefs - all the more reason to tell their stories.

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.


How on earth do they plan for those kind of numbers? ‘Richard Holden, another chef who helps out backstage, comes with me to Chinatown on the Monday and we work out what we think will be the right amount to buy, and I know how to keep within the budget we're given. We're making taster portions of the food, and it's the Chinese way to cut up expensive ingredients like meat to make it go further.’

He's also involved in filming mini videos around the Taste festival, with cooking tips and snippets of all the action. ‘We all love it – we always have done!’

Classes, demos, and now videos too. Jeremy Pang – cooking superhero. Just believe it.