THE weekend is when many of us put away the saucepans and order a takeaway, but making your own Chinese fest is a lot easier than you think.

Not all of us are blessed with natural culinary skills, and for some of us even when following a recipe things go wrong. That’s when a lesson from a professional could open a world of cooking that will inspire you.

Ann Tai is from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia but has lived in Newport for eight years. She learnt how to cook as a child but said that after moving to Wales she would eat out a lot with her husband.

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When she became a mother she says she wants her son George to have the best food and she was able to use the skills she learnt to make delicious and healthy food for her family. When he came home from school with his friends she would make him Chinese food and soon his friends were coming over and loved her dishes.

“The children were asking ‘Ann can I come to your house after school?’ The parents came and enjoyed the food too and realised the food is simple and healthy, like a stir-fry can take a few minutes.

“I emphasise simple, quick and nutritious food and also getting children involved, my George loves to make dumplings.”

She began teaching people how to make her dishes and Ann’s Chinese Kitchen was born. Based at her home in in Allt-Yr-Yn, where Ann grows many of the vegetables she uses in her cooking, people come and learn how to cook tasty Chinese food.

She will also teach groups in venues of their choice or even come to your home and cook for you.

“The feedback has been amazing, I did not expect it. This is my comfort food and the recipes are passed down through my family. People like having something different.

“The Chinese food here is often too oily or starchy and you just fell bloated. I would like people not to fear making Chinese food because it’s not complicated.”

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Taking one of the classes is a joyful experience as Ann’s enthusiasm for her food is contagious. Preparation of ingredients is one of the most time consuming elements, but Ann suggests preparing items, like chopping vegetables the night before.

“You can now get ingredients in supermarkets, there’s no need to go to specialist stores any more. If you prepare things the night before you can just cook them when you need to.”

Although she is from Malaysia, the food she grew up with has Chinese and Indian influences.

“Food is very important in Malaysia, like when we greet people we don’t ask how they are we say ‘Are you hungry, have you eaten?’ It brings people together and everyone will come and everyone is involved in cooking.

“I learnt a lot from my grandmother, I love cooking with my family, it is a real social occasion. But my grandmother was always in charge and did the quality control. If your dumpling or spring roll wasn’t good she would reject it.”

Ann hopes that she can get people cooking and enjoying food together.

She said: “You can socialise and have a glass of wine and still chop or wrap. I would like people to enjoy and have parties and have everyone make dumplings or spring rolls together, then eat together.”

Making spring rolls is a joyful experience, and even if you mess a few up you can go back and wrap them in the rice paper again. We made rolls filled with fresh vegetables and even though the fillings were simple they were full of flavour.

The sweet and sour chicken was one of the easiest dishes to make, with warming ginger and delicious garlic. Topped with fresh coriander it is a lot healthier than the options served at takeaways.

After the class I managed to make my own Chinese food at home, much to the delight of my guests. One said it was the best Chinese she ever had, high praise for a beginner.

Find out more about Ann’s Chinese Kitchen at or

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