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Ching-He Huang hosts opening event in Lee Kum Kee Culinary Culture Series

On 8th February 2018 at Asia House in central London, The Oxford Cultural Collective staged the first event in its Lee Kum Kee Culinary Culture Series. Designed to promote better understanding of Asian food and drink, each event in the series features prominent figures including chefs, food writers, journalists and broadcasters, who share their expertise and provide personal insights.

Outlining his ambitions for the series Donald Sloan, Chair of the Oxford Cultural Collective stated: “Whilst Asian cuisines are hugely popular in the UK, our knowledge of their origins, authenticity and development are limited. This is exactly what our comprehensive programme of events will address. Over the next three years we will hear from those who have a deep understanding of Asian food traditions and from talented professionals who are shaping our relationship with Asian cuisine. It is also our hope that the series will help forge new partnerships and projects involving those with a shared fascination with Asian food, drink and culture.”

The series has been made possible through a partnership between three key stakeholders.  The Oxford Cultural Collective; Lee Kum Kee, as well as being one of the world’s leading producers of Chinese cooking sauces, has a strong educational mission in promoting awareness of Chinese cuisine and its rich heritage; and Asia House exists to support cultural and business alliances between Asia and the UK.

The inaugural event was a celebration of Chinese New Year hosted by acclaimed chef and cookery writer Ching-He Huang. Breaking with the tradition of serving multiple meats to signify that the coming year will be one of abundance, Ching prepared an intricate vegan banquet using a range of Lee Kum Kee products, such as the Vegetarian Stir-fry Sauce and Double Deluxe Soy Sauce. The dishes, including Chūh Juān (vegetable spring rolls), Sin Cai Bao (lettuce wraps with soy edamame smoked tofu) and Mien Sien (hot and sour noodle soup) were a hit, even with those expecting steamed fish and crispy pork belly.

After dinner, in conversation with Donald Sloan, Ching recounted early influences that have shaped her distinctive style of cooking. Born in Taiwan, she remembers her grandmother preparing simple yet delicious meals that brought together the entire extended family. With a move to South Africa when she was still very young, enjoyment of Taiwanese dishes kept the family emotionally connected to their homeland. This remained the case when Ching moved to the UK, where she attended university before forging a successful career in the food sector. Reflecting her roots in a Taiwanese farming community, Ching’s recipes deliver culturally authentic flavours; but she is also highly creative – recognised for her ability to adapt and develop dishes to suit western palates.

The next event in the Lee Kum Kee Culinary Culture Series will be the annual Ken Hom Lecture, on 20th February.  Ken will be joined by panellists, including the award-winning writer Fuchsia Dunlop, to discuss the future of China Towns worldwide.  In society’s that are increasingly globalised and in which urban gentrification is commonplace, the panel will explore whether there is still a place for China Towns. They will also consider the role of China Towns in maintaining the culinary traditions of the Chinese Diaspora.

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