Thursday, June 30, 2011

Meeting Stanley Tse - Pioneer

Stanley Tse & His Daughter Lucy
When we were little, my mother used to drag us to China Town especially to See Woo Chinese Supermarket on Lisle Street at least twice a month to stock up on essentials. She was so happy that China Town existed - at least she can feed her children properly and it would be the closest thing to fitting in. She was so happy to find coriander! And eventually she managed to buy other things like sweet basil, or mangos, logans and so on. As the years went by, the more we were able to eat the wonderful things we were born to eat from the far east.

It was pure delight and happiness when she would bring home say a pomegranite in the late 80s or even in the 90s with her eyes shinning bright and her smile would cross oceans and say - remember when we used to eat this in Sai Gon?  

When President Clinton lifted the embargo on Vietnam in the 90s, we saw even more things in the shop and See Woo doubled in size and I had to wait in the car double the time! I knew this shop like the back of my hand as my mum dragged me around whilst she and her friends are browsing noodle brands, fish sauce, dried mushrooms and frozen fish.

Nowadays, my corner shop is a Vietnamese grocery store - I couldn't be luckier to be able to hold supper clubs and Vietnamese cooking classes with a store a stone throw away. So I hadn't visited in a while.
This week, I was invited to have dim sum at The Royal China Club in Baker Street with Stanley Kwai Chun Tse - the founder of See Woo (which he told me means 'four brothers') because they want to promote a range of their products which is the Way-On Chilli Sauce (which is really nice by the way) or the Pearl River Bridge - this one I have nothing against but never use.
I got talking to Stanley, a lovely 68 year old man from Hong Kong. He founded See Woo in the seventies before I had even set foot on this earth. Stanley was like the grandfather, the uncle or even the father I never had - a charming, wise and happy man who was accompanied by his beautiful daughter, Lucy.

Stanley told me how he used to earn £7 a week when he first came over from Hong Kong and would have his hair cut for shillings/ crowns. His brothers and him saved up and managed to open a restaurant called Lantern House. But frustrated with the lack of authentic ingredients available to them they started a small shop in Soho.
From a small business to a growing empire. See Woo now supplies to restaurants as well as local Oriental shops in the UK. Stanley has done well with his saved shillings. A great rags to riches story from a man who is so humble and gracious has been the pioneer of oriental foods in the UK. He is the one who gave us all the lovely ingredients we thought we would never have again and made growing up with Vietnamese food in London a possibility.

I took such a liking to him because his eyes smiled all the time. Even when he was not talking to anyone, he looked so kind and he offered me fruit and poured me tea. I miss a sense of having a male role model in my life. Stanley told me how he often goes to Vietnam because many of his supplies are from there. So one day, I hope to be meeting him there for a bowl of steaming hot Pho.
I will be checking out their Greenwich branch  for supplies.
Les Hausen, Lucy & Stanley Tse

The Chef who made all the nice food at Royal China Club
Thanks to Alice Grier from  Complete Media Group for the invitation.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grazing Asia At Jamie Oliver's Test Kitchen

By Leluu (Leluu is moving to please follow her there)

Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
The first question I get asked is what-made-you-start-a-supper-club? I did it out of the love to feed people. I have always loved cooking, I have always loved having people around for dinner. It so happens that I also love watching cooking shows like the rest of us and have grown up cooking and watching my idol, Jamie Oliver.

It was just equally an ambition of mine to have a restaurant so I opened up my flat and created a supper club and came with a happy medium. I had always wanted to meet and to work with/ support Jamie Oliver so when I was asked by Danny McCubbin, the Web Editor of to run a charity supper club in one of Jamie's private test kitchen, I said, hell yes!
We invited my friends - fellow food bloggers and great cooks, Luiz, The London Foodie, May, Slow Food Kitchen & Mimi, Meemalee's Kitchen to join in with the other courses. The theme being each making a course from where they come from, thus creating an Asian (Japanese, Malay, Burmese & Vietnamese) menu for the supper club just above the famous, Fifteen in Old Street.
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Danny McCubbin
May- Slow Food Kitchen
Mimi - Meemalee's Kitchen
Luiz - The London Foodie
We met. Within half an hour, we got a name together, "Grazing Asia" and May was on top of the whole process, got us a twitter account, a domain name, a new blog and so on. The band was formed. And together, the buzz around @grazingasia went from a blink into a whole fireworks display on Twitter - a mini big bang!
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
We gathered a mailing list, a guest list, an ingredients list and so on and chipped away working for two weeks until last Sunday, we executed our plans in front of friends, family, fellow bloggers and industry related colleagues in Jamie Oliver's kitchen!

I think we had one of those memorable and amazing days that we will never forget and we will talk about it for years to come.

Here is the menu
Seared Tuna with Yuzu Ponzu & Sesame Dressing
By The London Foodie
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Spicy Burmese Fishball Salad aka Nga-pè Thoh(k)
By Meemalee's Kitchen

Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness

Baked Crispy Pork Belly with Banh Cuon, Pickled and Fried Shallots with Vietnamese Cured Ham, Thai Basil and Coriander
By Leluu
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Malaysian Curry Laksa
By Slow Food Kitchen
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Green Tea Panna Cotta with Summer Berries
By Fifteen

Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
It was great to work with Joe Gray, who gave me some tips on roasting pork belly which for me can sometimes be a hit and miss;  and Jai & Emma - current Fifteen apprentices who were so happy to help us in everyway.
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Joe was somehow a silent leader of the team, there being 4 of us as chefs. He directed and guided us on logistics of cooking and service. Really look forward to his cooking classes and working together with him in the future.
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Compared to what I am normally used to (doing everything by self), working here was like a dream. You had everything available to you including professional assistants to waiter(esse)s. Awesome!
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
We had such fun working together - what a great day it was! I had never eaten Mimi nor May's food before - I can finally vouch that they know what they are talking about and they are great cooks. As for Luiz, he is a feeder, I often eat at his house and he is one of my favourite cooks, I always know that if Luiz is cooking, its going to be good.
All our guests were also very excited about being in Jamie's test kitchen just as much as we were. We raised about £1200 for Fifteen. Thank you so much for those who attended and donated.

Thank you to all our food sponsors us with ingredients and Wai Yee Hong for supplying some crockery including chopsticks (they don't really have chopsticks at Fifteen : ))

Fin & Flounder

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen

 Naked Wines
naked wines

Wai Yee Hong


Thankyou to Paul Winch-Furness for all the beautiful photography. Please visit his website for more of the beautiful photos he took on the day.
Photo By Paul Winch-Furness
Thank you to my wonderful team and most of all thank you to Danny McCubbin for believing in us and for letting us use the space. Hopefully we left it perfect for Jamie to use the next day. Emma - his apprentice from the food team puts it, "he's gonna know you've been here and moved all of his stuff around. He's gonna say, whats happened to my shit?"

Thanks Jamie, for your kitchen, its beautiful! Hope we put everything back in the right place.
Beautiful Emma
Team: Grazing Asia
Us Grazing Asians will be doing more pop up supper clubs every month. Please follow us and join the mailing list


You can read up on other thoughts about the day from:
The Skinny Bib
Hungry In London
Wai Yee Hong


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