Vibrant pair put the joy in Asian cuisine, discovers Grant Allen

Tanah Jane Dowdle and Freddie Sy are joyful gourmets.

They delight in touring people around Asian supermarkets explaining the ins and outs of the multitude of ingredients that bamboozle the average Western shopper and organise "banquets" in hidden restaurants, ordering up menus to bedazzle the eye and the palette.

And now they are sharing more of their joy by teaching you how to cook some of their favourite Asian dishes.

Along the way they reveal how to choose the best soy sauce, which noodles to use and what's hot and what's not around Auckland's China Town in the Balmoral Rd, Mt Eden area.


Tanah Jane describes herself a "a bit of an all-round culinary raconteur". Her background has seen her working as a restaurateur, sommelier, wine consultant, food stylist, food presenter and writer.

She holds a prestigious International Master of Wine certificate.

Freddie took inspiration from his mother's and grandmother's kitchens, soaking up their secrets and trailing them as they shopped in the market for the best ingredients.

Later in life Freddie worked in the buzzing advertising world of print, digital and television media.

He specialised in food styling on location all over exotic Asia and could be described as a Pan-Asian and Chinese food expert.

This vibrant pair have teamed up to take your taste buds into unknown territory.

Enlightened by their supermarket tour, I now understand the uses of the many different dried mushrooms, what tofu to buy and how to choose the best rice wine for cooking.

I had a hilarious time at one of their Full Moon Banquets, eating myself to bursting point, getting the inside story on Chinese table manners and the significance of particular food and dishes served for special occasions.

Recently I got a sneak preview of some of the kitchen magic they will be demonstrating in their classes.

You'll never need to go to a Chinese takeaway again after you master these. One in the series is wittily named "Shanghai Supper Club" and I know it would be impossible not to have fun with these two in the kitchen.

Generously they have shared some of their recipes so get out your woks and start cooking!


Lamb sliders
Freddie's Mapo tofu
Freddie's quick stir-fried rice noodles with crystal prawns
Baby bok choy and oyster sauce with chilli and garlic
Gourmet Joy, ph (09) 361 1147.