Following its inauguration in 2019, and a two-year hiatus as a result of Covid 19, Millfield celebrated its second ever ‘Chinese Food Day’ this year. The event, designed to immerse students within Chinese culture, saw over 100 students and staff take part in two mornings of food-making and tasting.
The event is one of the highlights of the Millfield Languages calendar and provides students with the chance to learn the techniques and skills required in creating authentic Chinese cuisine, before attempting to recreate the dishes themselves, and tasting the real thing prepared by the Chinese department teaching staff.
Students studying Chinese were taught the art of both regular and fortune dumpling making in lessons, learning to roll dumpling skins and wrap them up. Then, after making a batch of about six or seven, they were shown how to boil and serve them with traditional accompaniments such as vinegar and chilli oil. Alongside this, students were given the chance to make authentic egg fried rice, which was enjoyed with Chinese teas.
In its first year, students and staff combined to make over 1000 dumplings across the event, which was exceeded this year, while over double the amount of egg fried rice was made and consumed, with over 100 eggs being used across the two mornings.
Students, staff and Millfield’s Senior Leadership Team were invited to enjoy the food at breaktimes across both days, including Headmaster Gavin Horgan, who said, “The food was amazing. The tofu was really tasty with a bit of crispiness and the broth with it was lovely. The dumplings were also excellent alongside the egg fried rice and spicy sauce, which went together brilliantly.”
Year 9 student Jake Servan-Smalley, said, “I love how the Chinese department is so active, we’re always learning so many things about the culture other than just the language, which is why Chinese Food Day is such good fun. Also, the food is so delicious.”
Lower Sixth student Abby Stiegler, said, “I love learning new languages but also about different cultures, and getting the chance to make authentic Chinese food is a perfect example of that. The teachers in the Chinese department are so friendly which helps us to engage with Chinese culture even more.”
Millfield Head of Chinese, Jing Keeler, said, “When we first hosted Chinese Food Day, an Upper Sixth student who learned to make egg fried rice later emailed us when he was at university to ask about the chilli oil that was used for it. Apparently, egg fried rice became a staple of his university diet, and it was just great that the Chinese Food Day helped him to look after himself. This year, you could see the best form of learning happening all around in the kitchen, whether it was Year 9 students applying the techniques for rolling a dumpling skin by counting to ten in Chinese, or Sixth Form students practising until they could make the perfect egg fried rice. They mastered some impressive life skills while enjoying the food and having some great fun.”
Chinese was introduced onto the curriculum at Millfield in 2008. Currently, there are 92 students learning Chinese on the school’s various courses. The Year 9 Chinese course aims to help students immerse themselves in the language and culture through a range of activities and trips, including traditional festival celebrations, food tastings, annual food days, a trip to London for Chinese New Year, and a trip to China in the summer. Year 10 and Year 11 students are learning the Chinese GCSE course. In addition to all the aforementioned activities and trips, Year 11 students also enjoy a meal out at a local Chinese restaurant and take part in a Universities Day visit to London, where they network with other school students and speak directly to universities that offer Chinese degree courses. Sixth Form students currently study the Cambridge Pre-U course, and they are also involved in all the activities and trips.
Millfield became Somerset’s first Confucius Classroom in 2019. This is a programme that’s sponsored by the Chinese government, which provides annual funding for up to two teachers from China. The aim of the programme is to promote Chinese language and culture learning in the local schools and community. This enables Chinese clubs to run at Millfield Prep School and Elmhurst Junior School, while funding activities and trips for students.
Learn more about languages at Millfield here.