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Minute on the clock: Ken Wang

20 January 2017 by
Minute on the clock: Ken Wang

Ken Wang is the head chef at the Chinese Cricket Club, which specialises in Sichuan and dim sum specialities and is located within the Crowne Plaza London hotel. He talks to Neil Gerrard

What's the significance of the Chinese Cricket Club's name?

Your speciality is Huaiyang cuisine - tell us more about what characterises this tradition
Huaiyang cuisine refers to the characteristic flavours of dishes in Huaian, Yangzhou and Zhenjiang. It came into existence in the Ming and Qing dynasties and ranks among China's four grand cuisines, along with Lu (northern Chinese) cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, and Yue (Cantonese) cuisine.

Huaiyang cuisine is refined, delicate and elegant. Two of my five signature dishes include the Emperor's crispy duck and five-hour slow-braised pork belly with sticky rice and gravy.

Do you think Chinese cuisine is well understood in the UK?
I think the UK has fallen in love with Chinese food - one of the best Chinatowns in the world is here in London.

How challenging is it to find the specialised staff you need?
Extremely difficult - I usually find chefs through my own network of friends. We have tried the Chinese version of Gumtree - Netbirds and WeChat - but the best source is word of mouth. Most of the time, I train up my young staff.

You have achieved the Cook Master qualification - how difficult was it to achieve?
If you would like to become a Cook Master, you not only have to know how to work hard, you must apply your creativity on a daily basis. You must appreciate the notion of lifelong learning with the prospects of advancement, perseverance, a calm mind and sense of responsibility, then you will have all the ingredients for a successful and satisfying career.

You also have a specialist dim sum chef. How long does it take to master that art?
At least five years' experience and training. It's very difficult to learn the skills to control a small piece of pastry and turn it into something beautiful.

What Chinese dishes or ingredients do you think are under-represented in the UK?
Chinese and English cultures are complete opposites and this is reflected in our cuisines. Due to the period of Hong Kong under British Crown rule, many Chinese restaurants in the UK only served simple Cantonese-style food, so the public have not been exposed to the beauty of Chinese cuisine. I would suggest that diners forget sweet and sour chicken and go to quality Chinese restaurants to try authentic Chinese food that dates back centuries.

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