Posted by Colin Alford on Dec 01, 2017
Participating in fundraising and offering to help always reminds me of the army motto “Never Volunteer” then another part of me remembers the Rotary Motto “Service above Self”.
Over 35 years ago when Jan and I were living in Auckland, she and a friend of hers organised that their husbands be given Chinese food cooking lessons as Christmas presents!
We went along with the joke and turned up at this Chinese food store. We walked through to the back and there was a proper lecture theatre, tiered seats with a full-size stainless steel kitchen as the stage.
We sat down up at the back (of course) and picked up the four recipe cards that were on our seats and proceeded to watch as the master chef proceeded to cook the 4 courses. Appetisers, soup, main course, and dessert, writing notes on the recipe cards as he explained the process. At the end of the evening we sampled the cooking and of course, it was delicious. We were hooked. We dutifully tried out the recipes at home and went back for more. For 14 weeks we went back and at the end received our certificates as bona fide Chinese food cooks, (I don’t have the temerity to say “chef”. We actually went back for a further 14 weeks and became “Advanced Certificated Chinese cooks”. (I have forgotten most of it now.)
Over the years I have many times cooked Chinese food for friends and family.  Including one time using salt instead of sugar in a sweet and sour pork recipe!!
I was happy to accept the challenge of cooking for 8 people who had paid for their meal. (actually 11 people were fed including the helpers.) However, I had forgotten that 35 odd years have passed since I first cooked for a group of people. I am somewhat slower than I used to be, in body and mind!!  Luckily, as happened the last time, Dave Comparini from our club volunteered to help. Our son Scott and granddaughter Zoe offered to help too. I had pre-prepared most of the food, it still needed Scott to cook some of the courses, Zoe to put the dessert fruit dishes together and help to serve and Dave to keep the kitchen in some semblance of order. I could not have managed without them.
There were 10 courses, jasmine tea, wontons and dim sims, five spice chicken nibbles, prawn and lobster tom yum soup (I know that is Thai but it is spicy and tasty.) sweet and sour pork, seafood with stir fried vegetables, chicken with corn and mushrooms, shredded beef on a shredded fried potato base, boiled rice, lychees, mangoes and pineapples with French vanilla ice cream, fresh fruit platter, cheese and biscuits, (The guests decided to forgo the cheese and biscuits and coffee and tea, however it was BYO with ample wines, this sustained them.)
It was a very pleasant evening, I look forward to being a guest at the next one. Guests, John and Lynne Cole, Tony and Jenny Cornelius, Jaye Howey, Moira Jackson,  David and Jenny Thompson;  Helpers, Dave Comparini, Scott Alford, Zoe Alford.