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British food an Olympian challenge

A 1 000 Chinese cooks are currently in England to learn how to make bubble and squeak, bangers and mash for athletes and tourists at the Olympics in China.

by: Georgina Cooper | 26 Feb 2008

Chef Han Ming watched his teacher slice the fatty rind off a boiled ham and shook his head in amazement at the waste in British cooking.

"In China, what you call rubbish we cook into another delicious meal," he said.

Food Preparation Lecturer Jonathon Emson has knocked up a week-long crash course on Western cuisine for the 400 cooks who will come to his college in southeastern England as part of a worldwide programme designed to teach Chinese chefs how to make food from other countries in time for Beijing 2008.

Dressed in smart white uniforms complete with very tall chef's hats, one of the first groups crowded around Emson and watched intently as he demonstrated how to mash a swede, roast potatoes, boil a ham or fry up a full English breakfast.

The Chinese called Western cooking "hard work" and said it was much more labour intensive than Chinese cuisine.

"With British food we need to measure everything and we need to wait and we need to clean everything. But in Chinese cooking you can cook all the things together – and it is delicious," said fellow chef Qing Hua Lin.

Each team of visiting chefs will learn different dishes, so that when they return home they can pass on their new-found skills and try to spread knowledge of Western cuisine across Olympic kitchens before the foreigners arrive.

"They are very attentive, taking notes all the time and just generally really interested to learn," he said. "They have a different work ethic than us over here."

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