Thursday, 8 July 2010

Education = small world and even FAB food.....

Helen Tse and I at Sweet Mandarin today
Education really is a small world!! On my last visit to the Cayman Islands working as Strategic Development Advisor to the Minister of Education, my wife and I became friends with lawyer, author and speaker Helen Tse. Helen, latterly from the UK, was working in law but also had her first book 'Sweet Mandarin' published whilst we were there. Amazingly she was the first British born Chinese author to be published.
I even wrote about her in my blog in February 2008, and the tremendous literacy competition she organised in every school across the Cayman Islands.
'Sweet Mandarin' is a true story about her family. It is a great book, selling in 33 countries, and tells the true story about three generations of strong women, (Grandmother, mother and Helen) and their amazing story from East to West involving murder, poverty and the experiences of being in immigrant family in the UK. The common life line was food with grandmother Lily Kwok being the first Chinese person to set up a restaurant - even before Chinatown. The family have continued to run the restaurant, also called 'Sweet Mandarin' in Manchester. Many people will recognise it for being the Chinese finalist in last years 'F Factor' with Gordon Ramsey.
Staying in a different hotel in Manchester than usual, I discovered 'Sweet Mandarin' located just behind the hotel - I had no option but to visit - and there was Helen, working back in the family business. It was great to meet up again and have a long chat....
This is a blog about education and so absolutely not about food - but it was absolutely FAB!! I have so many hotel meals - this was in a different league... it was so nice, I even took photos of it (is that too sad?).
I have always said education is a really small world - wherever you go in the world you meet someone who knows you or someone who knows you - it is really amazing. Meeting Helen again, years later in a different country, in a fairly new city for me just proves the small world point really - it's just we didn't talk about education - that's not so bad on a night off either!
(But if you're in Manchester - try 'Sweet Mandarin'!)
Salt and Pepper spare ribs - DELICIOUS!
Grandmother Lily Kwok's secret recipe Chicken Curry dish - FAB!
The three Tse sisters

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