Explore Chinese Cooking with chef Candice Lee

Next week (June 5-6) Northwestern Michigan College hosts the 20th annual International Affairs Conference. This year’s theme is China and on June 7th – whether or not you’re participating in the conference – you can take your exploration of China into the kitchen with Chinese-American chef Candice Lee assisted by local chef Harlan “Pete” Peterson.

Candice Lee (right) at Black Sesame Kitchen

Candice Lee (right) at Black Sesame Kitchen

The class takes place from 10 AM – 1 PM on Saturday, June 7th at NMC’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute. “My hope is for people to understand how simple yet exciting Chinese food can be, the different flavors and the balance of the dishes and the culture behind it,” says Candice. “The skills and techniques are very different from those we use here. It’s completely different, and I think it’s exciting to learn the philosophy behind it.”

Candice is from Boston and went to China 8 years ago to study the language. She was hired to help translate for the chefs at Jen Lin-Liu’s renown Black Sesame Kitchen in Beijing in 2008. She has appeared on MSNBC and Lonely Planet TV, as well as written for Frommer’s guide books and explains, “I always had an interest in food but never had an outlet. After working with the chefs each day, translating easily turned into teaching. I really enjoyed the challenge of presenting Chinese cooking and culture to people from many different cultures.”

One of the people who enjoyed a class with Lee in her 5 years at Black Sesame was chef Pete Peterson who says, “Candice is very personable, and she has spent a lot of time exploring the food and culture of China. We’ll make and eat some great dishes as we learn more about the stories behind them.”

Candice Helping StudentCandice will discuss the different regional styles of Chinese cooking and her experiences living in Beijing. She will present Chinese cooking techniques, such as the cleaver technique about which she says, “One the best skills value most are the physical things like using a cleaver. First of all, it looks really awesome, but it also shows how you can simplify. One cutting board, one cleaver and one wok can produce hundreds of different dishes.”

Attendees will also learn proper ingredient preparation, including home preparation of tofu. Demonstrations will include dumpling making and several traditional dishes, which students will share at the end of the session:

  • Smashed Cilantro Cucumber Salad – a great, crisp way to start off a meal. The incorporation of vinegar and cilantro into this dish provide a refreshing and mouth-watering experience.
  • Mapo Tofu – a traditional Sichuan dish that is flavorful and spicy, a great representation of Sichuan cooking.
  • Kungpao Chicken- now synonymous with crispy chicken with sweet sauce, the dish will be demonstrated in its traditional way, from deboning a thigh, velveting, and stir-frying, and cooked into a delicious sweet, sour and spicy dish.

Click here to register for the class ($100, $80 for conference attendees) and for more information on the IAF China conference, go to china.tciaf.com or call 231-995-1700.