Posts Tagged ‘middleton’

Sweet Mandarin Cookery School for 14-16 year olds – Irlam Youth Forum Centre

January 15, 2009
Teenage students are mesmerized by Lisa's knife skills as they watch the demonstration

Teenage students are mesmerized by Lisa’s knife skills as they watch the demonstration


Three teenagers learning to cook Chinese dim sum at the Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cookery School with Lisa Tse

Three teenagers learning to cook Chinese dim sum at the Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cookery School with Lisa Tse

Lisa teaching 14-16 year olds at Irlam Youth Forum Centre how to cook Chinese dim sum and cuisine.

Lisa teaching 14-16 year olds at Irlam Youth Forum Centre how to cook Chinese dim sum and cuisine.

Sweet  Mandarin Cookery Courses – Workshops / Demonstrations

Lisa Tse has been visiting schools around the North West, USA, Asia and Carribean teaching Year 7 – 13 the art of making dim sum and the history of dim sum during the food technology classes.

Explained Lisa Tse, co-owner of Sweet Mandarin with her sisters Helen and Janet: “We are really excited to be working with schools. We’ve put together a workshop that will give the students hands-on experience of how to make authentic dim sums and learn a bit about Chinese culture and food. The students will also end the workshop with a fruit origami.

Said Fay Flatt (Arts Officer at Irlam & Cadishead, Irlam Youth Forum Centre): “When my students heard about the opportunity to train with Lisa Tse from the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School they were so excited. Lisa is an excellent teacher and mesmerized the students”

One of the students reported that “learning how to cook dim sum and understanding about Chinese food was brilliant. I wish every food technology class was taught by Lisa.”


– Learn the art of dim sum
– Learn Chinese Culture and food
– Learn Chinese New Year food and traditions
– Assembly Guest Speaker – Motivational Talk
– Prize Giving Guest Speaker – Motivational Talk

To book Lisa Tse please email


Email us for more details
Payment must be settled before or on the day. Please make cheques payable to Lisa Tse

– Maximum class size is 15.
– Ingredients need to be provided for the class ( full list will be provided)
– Expenses must be covered also.


Chinese Cookery School – Sweet Mandarin Is Proud of Her Students and Vice Versa

January 15, 2009

group“As family meals seems to have become pushed aside by a barrage of ubiquitous fast food and drive-thru restaurants, Lisa Tse of Sweet Mandarin emerges with a welcoming food philosophy of cooking healthy delicious meals and gathering the family back to the table. Operating from her modern wok fired restaurant, Sweet Mandarin in the Northern Quarter, Manchester, Lisa Tse continues a popular series of cooking classes that seek inspiration from a bevy of local world-class producers. The masterclass may well begin a session with a literal and culinary trip to the Silk Road learning how dim sum was created before actually learning the secrets of making dim sum. There was also some delightful party tricks to take back to the home kitchen. From the hands-on task of preparing the produce, learning knife skills, calculating the food budget and wok technique, a number of succulent stir fries and Chinese dishes were miraculously russled up during the masterclass.”

Six Degrees of Separation – Dim Sum, Silk Road, Guangzhou China, Britain, Cuppa Tea and me….

January 3, 2009

As a British Born Chinese, I have lived a very British way of life being educated in Manchester and Australia. However, throughout my life, I grew up with the backdrop of serving and cooking in the family restaurant and continue my involvement in the catering empire as a co-owner of Sweet Mandarin Restaurant (


(Illustration by Lisa Tse “To The Ruler, the People are Heaven, to the People Food is Heaven”)

Chinese food has had an overwhelming presence in my life and been the catalyst for my hunger for understanding China and the significance of food in its culture. This series explores the cities where I stayed, the lives that crossed my path and the amazing food with a story to tell. China is a captivating and vivacious collection of diverse cities, provinces and regions. In the south, Guangdong, the Cantonese speaking region is renowned for its steaming, boiling and stir frying and dim sum feasts which we have become accustomed to and love in the western world. Beijing in the coldest area of China boasts the Emperor’s banquet, the world famous Peking Duck and hot pot. In the east, Shanghai offers its famous Shanghai Dumplings, whilst the Sichuan provinces easily provide the hottest and spiciest cuisine.

I finally arrived at Guangzhou which is famous for its “dim sum”. Literally translated, “dim sum” means “to touch your heart”. Guangzhou is north of the Pearl River Delta, adjacent to Hong Kong and holds a special place in my heart as the place where my family originates from. The nickname for this province is “Flower City” because flowers keep blossoming all year round.


(Five Ram Statute in Guangzhou)

It also holds the myth that there were five celestials riding five rams with rice in their mouth. The celestials gave the rice to the residents of Guangzhou and blessed the province with good harvests and an abundance of food. Today, the celestials have flown away but the five rams have been turned into stone sculptures in the Yuexiu Park area. The blessings have seemingly been fulfilled and the city is brimming with masses of people, bicycles and restaurants.

To date, there are over 10,000 restaurants in the city, with seats for over 500,000. The people of Guangzhou are natural born gourmets. Food in Guangzhou is famous worldwide. Indeed in 1927, Chiang Kai-Shek, the leader of the nationalist party responsible for unifying China, set up his headquarters in Guangzhou and enjoyed dining at the many restaurants serving dim sum.


(Dim Sum Mania on Sunday Mornings)

Dim sum is often referred to as “yum cha” (饮茶) which means “drinking tea”. This interchangeable expression originated from the teahouses which set up along the Silk Road. The Silk Road linked China to Syria and was travelled by merchants and farmers trading their silk, gold, ivory, spices, exotic animals and plants. Travellers and rural farmers, exhausted after working hard, would also go to teahouses for a relaxing afternoon of tea. At first, it was considered inappropriate to combine tea with food, because people believed it would lead to excessive weight gain. However, people later discovered that tea can aid in digestion. Therefore, teahouse owners began adding more variety of snacks, so the tradition of dim sum evolved.


(Dim Sum Restaurant – Old Hong Kong)

Dim sum mania spread to Hong Kong as the Guangzhou population immigrated to Hong Kong in the 1920s. Chinese restaurants grew exponentially in Hong Kong and soon dim sum was available from 6am through to late afternoon. Restaurants in Hong Kong and Guangzhou became filled mainly with the elderly population who often gathered to eat after the morning session of tai chi exercises, often enjoying the morning newspapers.

In the west, dim sum came about as a natural result of Chinese immigrants moving to the western world. When Europe started trading with the Orient, the seaport of Guangzhou became the gateway to the West. The Chinese readily absorbed these cosmopolitan influences, and being great travellers themselves, emigrated to the United States of America and the United Kingdom. They were the first to make Chinese cooking known to the Western world and as a result dim sum has become the firm favourite of the Western world.


(A Packed Dim Sum Session)

Go to a Chinese restaurant on a Sunday afternoon and you will be greeted by a sea of Chinese families spanning three generations. Dim sum is the Chinese equivalent of French hors d’oeuvres or Spanish tapas. It’s a colourful and loud dining experience starting with the rush for vacant seats and the hustle and bustle of the gesticulating waiters selling their dim sum specials from their trolleys. Bamboo containers filled with steamed dim sum are stacked high and quickly snapped up. Waiting on staff ask what kind of tea we want to drink offering a vast array of jasmine tea, oolong tea, pu-er tea and green tea which helps to wash down the dim sum. The noise of the chatter of the diners is deafening. It’s a busy, frantic affair and there is an air of organized panic in the restaurants, which adds to the excitement and entertainment. Dim sum is an overwhelming introduction to the Chinese nation’s love of food, gregariousness and cheerful chatter.

I love dim sum. There are over 200 dishes to choose from. One Cantonese saying goes that anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies is edible. Another says that the only four-legged things that Cantonese people won’t eat are tables and chairs.

The range of cooking skills required to make dim sum is vast. There is usually a dim sum master overseeing his section of the kitchen and there is a real art involved in making the dishes. Some dishes are steamed, others are fried. Some are baked. The variety of tastes is also mind boggling – sweet, sour, savoury and chilli.


(Left: Har Gow, Right: Siu Mi)

There are firm favourites such as “har gow” (prawn dumplings wrapped in translucent rice paper), “siu mi” (pork dumplings) and “char siu bow” (pork buns in a white fluffy dough). If you are feeling more adventurous, an eye opening experience with a stronger flavour is “fung jow” (chickens feet in yellow bean sauce and chillis). One caveat – this particular dish is not for the faint hearted. The sweet dishes for dessert range from the egg custard tarts which are extremely delicious to sago pudding or mango pudding which are refreshing and a great ending to the dim sum experience.


(Me (Left) learning how to make dim sum with my sister (centre) and mother, Mabel (Right))

A meal in a restaurant opens the taste buds, but cooking dim sum for my friends and family widens all the senses. I learnt the authentic recipes from Guangzhou and used them at Sweet Mandarin. Together with my sisters, Helen and Janet we made every dim sum from fresh. Stuffing and shaping wontons was the real family enterprise. We made the stuffing from a light prawn mince and wrapped the teaspoon of filling with a fine egg based pastry. We all left our individual stamp on the won tons in the way we crimped the edges. I added a flamboyant tail on these wontons, which can then be dipped in the sweet and sour dip. My everyday rituals of properly selecting produce, cooking and presenting a meal, which I have inherited from my family, have given me an insight to see the meaning of my own cooking as a metaphor for life.

I would love to share with you our recipe on making this exquisite dim sum.
For the Prawn Filling
250g pack shrimps
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp potato starch
1 egg white
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Hot vegetable oil to lightly fry the wontons
Ingredients for the Wonton Wrappers
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 tsp potato starch
1/4 cup of water
2 cups of plain flour
Dressing for the wontons
Serve with Sweet Mandarin’s The General Tse’s Sweet and Sour Sauce
Method to make the wonton pastry
1. Kneed the ingredients together into a ball. The consistency is dough like.
2. Leave in the fridge for half an hour.
3. Roll out into a very thin sheet (as thick as a piece of paper) with a rolling pin ensuring there is plenty of flour to avoid sticking.
4. Cut into squares 3inches squared.
Method to make delicious and easy wontons
1. Put all the prawn mixture into a food processor and mix thoroughly.
2. Shape into balls the size of walnuts.
3. Place the filling balls into the centre of the wonton wrappers. To make the tail, gather the four edges and twist together.
4. Heat oil
5. Place wontons in hot oil for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through.
6. Drain from oil.
7. Serve the wontons with the Sweet Mandarin’s General Tse’s Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Sweet Mandarin offers a brunch special on Saturdays and Sundays – Eat all you can Dim Sum for 10 pounds per head. Match with Jasmine Tea and it makes for a wonderful relaxing weekend with friends and family.  For more information, go to To book a table email

BBC Films The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School and Lisa Tse

January 3, 2009


I was recently filmed for the tv series Inside Out on BBC One which featured Sweet Mandarin and the story behind our restaurant/cookery school. The director, Lawrence and presenter Andy Johnson were brilliant fun and got stuck into the cooking (and eating) at the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School.  You can see the programme on (Home Page).

The Internet is a wonderful thing.  The revolution allows me to reach out to all my students around the world. Now, thanks to the Internet, I have the ability to post my recipes online, making them more accessible to viewers and chefs.  This leaves no excuses—get cooking today!

Best wishes and Sweet dishes to you and your family


Wok n Roll – Home Economic Lessons Are Over Subscribed – Thanks to Lisa Tse!

January 3, 2009

Lisa Tse's School Masterclass



Manchester’s trendy eaterie is a School of Excellence for young wanna-be chefs and restaurant staff and for students in Greater Manchester and abroad, it will be the first chance to taste modern Chinese cuisine at the cutting edge.


None of the students who will be training at Sweet Mandarin are Chinese.


In setting up the ’School’ Sweet Mandarin will be following in the footsteps of Jamie Oliver’s famous 15 restaurant.


The Manchester initiative is a collaboration between the all-female owners of Sweet Mandarin and Margaret White, catering lecturer at the Openshaw campus of MANCAT (Manchester College of Art and Technology) and the George Hicks Campus in the Caribbean.


The students, full time and part-time, are studying for their NVQ Level 2 or equivalent. The majority are between 14 and 18, but there are also adult students.


At Manchester, a rota system is in place and groups of between two and three at a time will be gaining work experience at the chic restaurant at The Design House in the Northern Quarter on a day release basis from the college. The School of Excellent is also rolled out on site at the schools, and Lisa visits the schools personally to teach the students how to make Chinese dim sum and fruit origami. The culinary training began with an instruction session explaining the background of how dim sum originated, Chinese culture and language, followed by a demonstration, and actual hands-on Oriental cooking by the students.

On the menus is tasty dim sum – bite-sized Oriental treats. The name is derived from the words from the heart, for, as the guest said, the cooking style was originally created to “reach people emotionally”.

 The students prepared three of the many dim sum varieties: chicken spring rolls, chicken wontons, and chicken toast.


Most of the work will involve ‘chef-fing’ but for those who want it there will be an opportunity to practice silver service for those students doing work experience at Sweet Mandarin.


Explained 30 year old Lisa Tse, co-owner of Sweet Mandarin with her sisters Helen and Janet: “We are really excited to be working with MANCAT. We’ve put together a plan that will give the students hands-on experience of how a busy Chinese kitchen operates but underlining the whole scheme will be the emphasis on quality which is why we are calling it School of Excellence.”


Meanwhile the trainee chefs are swotting up on the secrets of the perfect Sichuan beef and fried won tons.


Said Margaret White: “When my students heard about the opportunity to train at Sweet Mandarin they were queuing up to go there. And I was at the front of the queue!


“As a full time lecturer I have to keep my hand by doing a certain amount of practical work experience and I can’t wait to have a go at preparing stuff like dim sum.


“It’s a unique chance for us all to learn the very special art of Chinese cooking as none of us are Chinese or have Chinese connections.”


And use chopsticks like the professionals.


The three Tse sisters enjoy serving as mentors, especially advocating the areas of entrepreneurship, literacy, law, business and cooking.  Having grown up helping in the family business, they told the local students that they know the “fun and rewards” of working in a busy Chinese restaurant.  “That is how we survived…,” said Chef Lisa, who advised the students to, “Be creative and adventurous with your food”. She also imparted the inspirational words “If I can do it, so can you”.


Its not surprising with their entrepreneurial streak and commitment to education that Manchester’s home grown entrepreneur and CEO of Sweet Mandarin, Lisa Tse has something to write home about. She has been invited to be the key note speaker for the Growing Business Awards. Lisa is also a contributor to their self titled book Sweet Mandarin, written by her twin sister, Helen, which has been published by Random House in 33 countries and the BBC Audiobook, Sweet Mandarin, is being launched worldwide in February 08 to celebrate Chinese New Year. Lisa headlined the Growing Business Event at Manchester’s GMEX on 25 January 2008.  For more information see


Sweet Mandarin opened on 2nd  November 2004 with the first “cook-off” for students in the North West.

The owner, Lisa Tse has been featured in the Sunday Times, Guardian, Chamber of Commerce, North West Enquirer, Start Talking Ideas. She is a spokesperson for Make Your Mark, on the board of the NWDA (the UK Government arm responsible for fostering entrepreneurship in the North West) .,,2095-2230200,00.html,,1547934,00.html



For further information please contact Lisa Tse (Mobile: +44 (0) 7877 639 876)

Sweet Mandarin

19 Copperas Street, Manchester M4 1HS

Tel:      0161 832 8848           





Testimonials – Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 3, 2009

Francine loves to entertain her friends and family. Prior to joining Sweet Mandarin’s Cookery School, Francine found a Chinese menu somewhat bewildering – too much choice and uncertainty as to what all the flavours would taste like. Sweet Mandarin’s Cookery School gave Francine an introduction to a new  type of cuisine and an understanding that at the end of the day, good food is delicious especially Chinese food.  It was a pleasure to welcome you to our home, Sweet Mandarin. May you and your family have many Sweet dishes for 2009!  Here is a summary of Francine’s thoughts after the class.


Sweet Mandarin is a Chinese restaurant in the Northern Quarter, Manchester. It was my first time visiting Sweet Mandarin and its a place with people with big hearts who welcome you to their kitchen to cook and enjoy their stories as you dine on your own cooking.

Lisa is as eager to teach as you are to learn. Each lesson filled with fresh local ingredients and lots of laughs!

If it’s about the food and the culture of China, this is the ticket. I felt well informed and always at ease – oh and the spring rolls were absolutely delicious – what more could you ask for?”



Do you want to try Chinese cuisine and learn to cook Chinese cuisine? If so, contact Lisa Tse on  For more information go to

Sweet Mandarin Cookery School Vouchers are a Great Gift Idea

January 3, 2009

Here is Anita’s Testimony. Its such a great experience to cook with couples. You’ve heard the saying, “The Way To A Man’s Heart Is Through His Stomach” right? Well when I cook with couples, its like getting a glimpse of their life, their inter-actions and their humour. Anita – you’ve done your hubby proud.  This is Anita’s story….

Dr Sharma and Dr Sharma at Sweet Mandarin's Cookery School

“This actually was a birthday present given by the children to their father. He was not sure what to expect. I think he was not expecting this as a gift. My children know that the father likes cooking & experimenting with different food. I have to admit he is good but a messy cook!!

Just to give him a bit of support, as all men need it, I went along. …..we got undivided attention from the master chef. We tasted our own cooked food.

We both enjoyed thoroughly. We amazed ourselves by seeing how perfect spring rolls & prawn toasts we made. I think Lisa looked bit worried by seeing how quickly we both picked up, in case we opened up our restaurant next door to her!!   We are going to demonstrate our skills to our children when they come home for Christmas.

He did not make much mess in Lisa’s kitchen & cleaned as he went along. Again thanks to the chef–one of the good qualities. I will make sure he continues to do that in my kitchen.

We will recommend this to any one who enjoys Chinese food. Much easier & healthier too if you learn to cook the right & healthy way.

Please keep me updated.


To book a surprise birthday gift voucher for the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School, email Lisa Tse at or call 0161 832 8846. For more information, go to

Welcome to The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 2, 2009
Lisa Tse - head chef of the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

Lisa Tse - head chef of the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School


I’m Lisa, the head chef at Sweet Mandarin. I can’t wait for you to join me at our Sweet Mandarin Cookery School. This blog is designed for you to answer all those questions you have about food, cooking and healty living.

Imagine this – A New Year – A New You

My friends and clientele tell me they want to look better, feel better, and live happier, more fulfilling lives – but they also like to eat. I believe that food is an essential part of a happy and fulfilling life, and I’m committed to showing you how delicious healthy living can be.

Wishing you Best Wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family


What Happened to Us This Week

November 30, 2007

Welcome to our Blog. This is a way to keep in touch with friends around the world and keep you up-to-date with our news so far. We’ve outgrown the small news reel on the home page and finally set up our own blog. We hope you enjoy reading about our journey so far.  

My name is Helen Tse and together with my two sisters, Lisa and Janet we run the award winning Sweet Mandarin restaurant in the UK.  I will be the voice for my sisters too – they share in my heritage and the hard work in setting up Sweet Mandarin.

Have you ever felt stuck in a rut, wondering what life was all about. In a former life, I was all about slogging it out in the City of London and climbing up the greasy pole to further my career. A trip to Hong Kong, a desire to create a legacy that honoured my family and a dream to open a restaurant led me to return to my roots. “A Journey of A Thousand Miles Starts With One Step” – this Chinese proverb is etched on the cover of my book, Sweet Mandarin. My sisters and I have had quite an exciting journey so far and its thanks to Sweet Mandarin and the path laid down before us by our mother and grandmother. Taking the courageous step to move back home and open Sweet Mandarin (Lisa gave up the steady pay cheque as a financier, Janet gave up her expertise as an engineer) has been worth it and we have never looked back.

Now four years on, Lisa runs Sweet Mandarin with her dedicated team. Janet is married, settled down, pruning her nest and a mother to a beautiful baby girl (maybe she’ll be the fourth generation of women restaranteur? :)) My life juggles book signings, talks with schools, liasing with Lisa on decisions regarding the restaurant, keeping ahead of the competition by being entrepreneurial and juggling the family responsibilities. Life isn’t always plain sailing especially with the challenges of being a woman, an entrepreneur, a restaurateur, and an ethnic minority.

I explore the issues that affect us, conversations overheard at Sweet Mandarin, my discussions with my sisters about returning to our roots, dealing with culture clash and becoming a published author. Sometimes, our lives moves so fast we forget all the things that have happened. This blog will be like a snapshot on the details of life, the decisions we take and how such actions have contributed to my journey through life. Want to learn more about how the Chinese think? Read on… 

We started Sweet Mandarin four years ago. Some people think we’ve been in business all our lives. Well in a way we have. We  served in our parents’ chippy since the age of 11 years old (“any salt and vinegar on yer chips?” pause. wrap furiously. smile to hide nervousness and look in the direction of the impatient crowd, avoiding eye contact “any soy sauce on yer fried rice?” look at the old clock ticking in the background….half an hour to go…i hope no customers come in…..five minutes to go….customer comes in and orders the entire shop menu. typical. that has been my friday evening since the age of 11). My sisters and I always were a dab hand at shifting the largest volumes of wrapping paper for  Young Enterprise (“quick corner the staff room and don’t let the teachers in until they have bought at least two rolls of wrapping paper and a santa claus candle”).

Its amazing how after four years we have grown together as a family, as a business and as an integral part of the community. Lisa is really the face of Sweet Mandarin and as the CEO was invited to be the key note speaker for Growing Business Conference 2008 at the GMEX Exhibition Hall, listed as an expert on entrepreneurship in Flux Magazine and impressively was finalist in the Women of the Future Awards 2007 presented by Liz Hurley and the Precious Awards 2007.

We are known as “The Tse Sisters” and were featured in the Bold Venturers book of Entrepreneurs, as key role models for the Make Your Mark Campaign and made it into the top 100 entrepreneurs list in EN Magazine.

Sweet Mandarin is also the title of my book, published by Random House worldwide, published by St Martins/Thomas Dunne in USA and we just secured the audio book deal with BBC Books. This book charts our epic story beginning with our great grandfather, grandmother, mother and our generation. Four families who made a living from food, and our obstacles in our journey from East to West. You can buy the book on and the audiobook is available from BBC Books.