MoP Beta Files: Cooking & the New Normal

You might guess from my title that changes are afoot with Cooking. When you first log into the MoP expansion you'll notice that the Cooking trainers once again have very little for you. I'm not even certain why they bother putting new recipes on the regular Cooking trainers since the real action is at Halfhill Market. Luckily Halfhill is accessible to level 85 toons, as are the quests. The first NPC who will offer you quests is Sungshin Ironpaw. She can also train you in the non-specialized Pandaria recipes and will sell you supplies to make most of her recipes.

You can reach Halfhill by traveling to the west side of the Jade Forest. Take the road that leads due west from Serpent's Heart:

Continue to travel west on the road through Valley of the Four Winds until you reach Halfhill:

The first quest you pick up from Sungshin is "So You Want to be a Chef?". I'm still working to verify the floor on this, but so far the quest is available as low as 350 Cooking skill. It would appear that Sungshin's recipes are intended to help players power their Cooking skill to Zen level if needed. If you're not at 525 skill, go ahead and use Sungshin's recipes to skill up.

Once you reach 500 Cooking skill and complete the first quest, Sungshin offers the follow-up quest Ready for Greatness. You can't actually make the dish she's requesting until 520 skill. When you turn in this quest, she will teach you the Zen Cooking ability and give you your first Ironpaw Token. Completing this quest also unlocks the six specialization quests, what I like to call the "Way" quests.

Each "Way" quest is done one time and unlocks the specialty recipes on the corresponding Master trainer. Once you complete the "Way" quest from Sungshin, you return it to the appropriate Master trainer. He or she will then offer you a quest that grants you access to the specialty recipes and unlock the first one for you. Completing this quest will also get you a second Ironpaw Token. After that your specialty trainer will teach you additional recipes from his or her specialty. Simply continue to craft specialty recipes to level up your Cooking skill as well as your specialization skill.

Many of the Pandaria specialization recipes grant 5 skill points when first learned. This may sound great, but these recipes also require 2-10 components to make. Luckily you get multiples of the finished product. But once you reach the specialty feasts, you're looking at as many as 141 components to craft a 25-person feast. Yes, you did read that right, I said 141 components per large feast. Eventually Farms will help with some aspects of the collection process. But Panda Cooking looks to be very labor intensive, at least until supplies start trickling into the Auction House.

All "Way" quests can be done simultaneously, you can work on all six at once if you like. The main limiting factor here to unlocking all six specializations is the materials.  Each pair of quests will typically require 10 of a specified ingredient (5 for the Master quest and 5 for the "Way" quest). Some of these ingredients may not even drop in the early zones, so getting your hands on them could be difficult. Eventually this won't be a problem as mats become available on the Auction House, but early on the mats will be in short supply. To make matters more difficult, the Agility and Strength specialties both require the same material (Raw Tiger Steak). So expect that item to be even harder to collect, with potential overfarming of tigers in addition to AH price gouging.

Luckily you can unlock any of the specializations and start leveling up. In MoP, your official Cooking skill is determined by your highest specialization skill. It won't necessarily help you unlock more specialty recipes, but at least you can work on your overall Cooking skill. The easiest specialty to start with is the Way of the Pot. It requires Jade Lungfish, which can be fished up in the very first zone (20% estimated drop rate).

Another option is the Way of the Oven, which requires Wildfowl Breast that drops from various birds in Pandaria. There are unaggressive cranes in several areas of the Jade Forest who drop them and are generally not quest targets. You can use these instead of Jade Lungfish if you prefer to hunt mobs. The cranes are a high drop rate and some are 100% drop, but there are not high numbers of them and some areas cannot support multiple farmers.

At 550 skill all of the 530 recipes become yellow, so you should learn the next recipe from your specialty trainer. I opted to stay with the Way of the Oven since a Twin Fish Platter requires 2 fish instead of 1 fish + 5 veggies like some of the other recipes. It took me over an hour to collect the 50 Krasarang Paddlefish needed to craft the platters, these fish have a 20% drop rate according to El.

When you get to 575 skill you can learn two new recipes: a great banquet that feeds 25 or a normal banquet for 10 people. Most of the 575 recipes require a combination of fish/meat/veggies and 1 vendor-bought item. Skill-ups are worth 5 points for the smaller feast and 8 points for the larger feast. The larger feasts requires twice the mats of the smaller feast, so you get more skill points from your mats by making the 10-man feast. You'll need to collect at least 50 meat + 50 fish + 250 veggies to make the banquets. Count on this step taking many hours of farming depending on the drop rate of your components. The 575 recipes will stay orange all the way to 600.

Eventually you'll be able to do a quest for Nam Ironpaw. He will offer you "Preserving Freshness", which simply requires you to purchase an item from Merchant Cheng a few steps away. This unlocks a repeatable quest which can't be done until level 90. Nam Ironpaw will accept a Bundle of Groceries as a repeatable turn-in. You can purchase empty containers from Merchant Cheng, which will allow you to exchange stacks of 100 veggies, 20 meat/fish or 60 Golden Carp for one Ironpaw Token. Tokens can then be used to buy sacks of Cooking ingredients. This essentially let's you exchange one type of item for another.

All of the quests at Halfhill reward Ironpaw tokens. Any SW/Org cooking tokens you already have will be converted to Epicurean tokens in MoP. The cooking dailies in SW/Org still reward skill points, so for now you're able to use the SW quest as an added bonus in the leveling process for MoP. You can also do the Darkmoon Faire Cooking quest for skill points if you like, although this won't be available at launch. Doing all of the specialty quests at Halfhill should get you a handful of Ironpaw tokens before you reach level 90 and unlock the daily quests. You will likely need to do all starter quests if you're trying to power level your Cooking skill, as it takes 1 Ironpaw token to purchase the vendor item 100 Year Soy Sauce, which is needed for banquet feasts.

Realm First Thoughts
At first glance Way of the Brew seems like the easiest specialization to start with since Sungshin sells the Ginseng needed for the first recipe. While this will help you in making the items, subsequent recipes are actually much worse on the Brew path. At 550 the "Brew" recipe calls for 10 vegetables while two other Ways are only requiring a couple of meat/fish. Then at 575 the "Brew" recipe takes 100 vegetables while other Ways need only 70 meat/fish/veggies. With Farms not in production yet, you'll have to collect all the veggies by killing mobs. Because of this, the Brew path will likely be the most time consuming.

Do extra "Way" quests from Sungshin to collect the additional tokens needed for feasts. You're going to need five 100 year soy sauce to craft the recipes at 575. The best way to get them is to do additional "Way" quests. The quests from Sungshin will not be enough to get all the Ironpaw tokens you need.

There are no longer any gotchas in the Cooking progression. It looks like Blizzard removed them at some point. The final set of feasts will stay at orange difficulty all the way to 600. The main challenge in capping Zen Cooking is collecting all the meat and veggies to make the recipes.

Feel free to ask questions in the Comments and I'll do my best to answer!


  1. For those interested in keeping an ear to the ground on the various ingredients and their drop locations, you can refer to this excellent thread started by Druidmoon:

  2. The turn in 20 is actually really really excellent. The golden carp you get by the bucket while farming up your jadefish and paddlefish? Turn them in 20 at a time. Suddenly the stupid trashfish have a new life.

  3. Thanks for this Kaliope, and that tip Christina.
    Where are you leveling from 89 to 90 Kaliope? I can't figure out how to get to the Dread Wastes, since the wall from VoEB doesn't seem to have a way through/up to the flight point and quest question mark that I can see on my map. And there aren't any quests for me in VoEB after the first few intro ones that send you to the alliance city and back (aside from the one that send you to the Dread Wastes wall which I can't figure out how to complete).
    I only have one area left to do in Kun-Lai Summit, which is adjacent to Townlong Steppes, so I guess maybe I'm supposed to finish up in Townlong?

    1. On the south side of Townlong, there's a hollow log that goes across the gap to Dread Wastes.


  4. We're thinking along the same lines on leveling 595-600. Hopefully that will change because it is extremely grindy at the moment. I calculated 14 Banquets (per Way) *on average* from 595 to 600 - . Each of those has 2 token ingredients, as well as a raft of other reagents.

    By cooking the first specialisation recipe until 554, the skill-up profile jumps to 599, and only an average of 6 further Banquets are required to reach 600, which would make a huge difference if (as seems likely), Ironpaw Tokens will be in limited supply. But one has to plan ahead for that - it isn't at all logical.

    None of the cooking quests currently give skill-ups. The Darkmoon quest isn't even available to me. I assume this is bugged. Whether Darkmoon will be an option for power-levelers will depend a lot on the unknown release date.

    The only repeatable quest for Ironpaw Tokens is technically classed as daily - watch the achievements - it just doesn't stop being available. If it remains repeatable, not daily, at least the tokens will be grindable via grocery turn-ins (effectively 1 token per 20 ingredients). When you reach 90, be sure to pay careful attention to the grocery bags... In the current build 600 can be attained for little more than RSI.

    The Golden Carp turn in requires 60, whatever the tooltip says, so it is useful, but not quite as useful as first seems, since 60 Carp is broadly comparable to farming 20 of something better.

    Leveling up to 90 can be very tricky if you have completed most of the quests in earlier zones: One of the 2 quest-lines in the Dread Wastes bugs out fairly early on. I had to go back to the Valley of the Four Winds, where at least the quests were still yellow. From memory, 89 to 90 is over 20 million XP, so gets really slow without high-level quests to complete.

  5. Christina: I agree, I'm really liking that mechanic. I hate vendoring usable mats, so this is a nice way to breathe life into a typically useless item.

    Flock: I'm afraid I can't help you with the gap in quests. I spent a third of level 88 grinding Mogu Pumpkins and Raw Turtle Meat, so I will probably have little/no problems capping with the quests. I'm still in Kun-lai with at least a dozen quests remaining.

    El: I had no problem getting a skill point from the SW daily as well as the 5 points from DMF. I did the SW quest first, which put me at 596. Then I went to the Faire and that pushed me to 600. I'm currently experimenting with the 550-554 gap on a second toon to get an idea on the mats needed.

    I agree that the skill-up process isn't logical, it may have be designed to thwart Realm First grabbers. Given the copious ingredients used, I feel this is a pretty labor intensive project and probably doesn't merit the extra gotcha at the end. I sure was getting tired of farming those banquets and I think that says something!

    I did not realize the Golden Carp grocery quest required 3 stacks of fish, thanks for the heads-up. I was looking forward to trading those up but now I'm a little bummed about getting less for them.

    Good info all - thanks for sharing!!

  6. I'm a bit bummed about the 60, but frankly the golden carp is a side return anyway. At least I'll have an outlet besides the vendor.

    I'd really like to know if the change in org tokens is intended for MoP. I'll start collecting now if so.

    I'm planning to bring in a premade once the farms are going to see if the feel of leveling cooking changes any. The droprate for fowl is so much better than tigers, but the need for farm foods in some recipes skews my current perceptions.

    1. I don't know if the SW/Org tokens will remain or not, I would give it 50/50 odds at this point. Certainly worth the gamble if you want to have a stockpile going in.

  7. I apologize but I could use some clarification on what is limited by tokens & levels vs materials? I frequently overlook things like like reagents that require gated daily tokens.

    525-530 = mats only (RfG)
    530-575 = 2 recipes & mats - DId the 2 buy from trainer recipes to get to 575 require tokens (or mats purchased with tokens?)
    I.e., one can get to 575 at 85 using just mats an 85 could fish/kill?
    575 on = ??? a token per feast for Soy sauce?

    1) is 100YSS BoP or BoE (WH tooltip does not say)

    2) So it appears that feast are BoP but designed to not be used by progression raiders? I.e., wouldn't people prefer to use their own +300 food than a +250 banquet? Ug, that can't be popular with raiders or raid leaders. [Edit: after writing this my google journey got me to Els. Ugh] Are all the non-Feasts BoE? I.e. SM Soup, EBFish, SMRNoodles all BoE?

    3) Locked zones (stilled annoyed by TH 84) Don't you need to get to Halfhill market in V4W to level cooking? Can you lock summon or corpse run there and get to the trainers? Or will you need to get to 86 (or worse finish JF & KW) to start? It impacts not only RF but also cooking dailies are efficient for tokens/reps/gold for alts that won't be leveled for a while.
    P.s.: Bliz could easily tune it up or down at the last minute, but how long will 85-90 take? 2000 hours to cap EQ1 versus I recall about 10 non-trivial days in LK versus perhaps an intense weekend in Cata? Is this even quicker than Cata?

    1. The only portion of the level grind that is gated by tokens is the 575-600 push. The banquets require mats from the vendor, which are bought with Ironpaw tokens (2 per banquet). The trainers teach all the recipes, there are no vendor/token recipes involved in this process. I believe there are a couple of faction recipes in Krasarang but I didn't use them. So yes, you can get to 575 just using your mats and doing the quests at Halfhill.

      I think the Soy Sauce is BOE, but I didn't actually mail one to confirm that. I can try it later, but currently my Beta realm is seriously borked.

      The singleton crafted foods are BOE, I have been mailing them to other toons for storage and/or usage. I'm not sure how much of a priority the banquet's usability for progression raiders factors into their design. It's possible they've decided that feasts are a convenience item that is designed for those who prefer convenience over potency. I know my casual raiding guild won't care, free food is free food to them.

      You really can get to Halfhill at 85, I have taken 2 premades and 2 of my own toons there. It's just a matter of riding out from the starting location, no artificial restrictions at this time. I have detailed directions in the second paragraph.

      I realize that Blizzard could tweak any of these things during Beta or even pre-launch, so I can't promise this plan will work. That said there have been very few times I've actually seen a late change of that sort made.

      Right now I feel it's taking me longer to level in MoP than in Cata, but I haven't actually been keeping track. I would assume at least equivalent to Cata.

    2. Hagu, on #2 there's a clear design intent for MoP feasts to be a more of a convenience food than best-in-slot (so to speak). The important thing to note is the very high requirements for the best (300 buff) individual food: Not only 600 skill in the Way (which will be non-trivial at launch), but also a fairly intense list of ingredients, including token ingredients.

      The 300 buff food is aimed at people who need that buff for their server-first and hardmode/challenge kills, and are prepared to put the effort into getting every advantage possible. For more casual raiders, losing 25 or 50 stat is relatively unimportant: Only worth the equivalent of 5-10% of one piece of ilevel 450 gear - not enough to make or break most encounters.

      (From memory all the token ingredients can be traded - a very similar system to Northern Spices.)

    3. EI, while it is true the that truly hardcore will go for maximum effect food, they are not the only "true" raiders, meaning that many middle of the road guilds aim for fast-ish progression too (or at least as fast as they can), and for them those stats matter much much more than for HCs that regularly deal with content while in lower iLevels gear. So what is a 50 stats loss for one character becomes a 2500 loss for the raid as a whole (talking about 25m) which is not unimportant, it is a buffer against lower skill, much more so than anything else available at the start of raiding. Once better gear starts rolling in, it is less and less, but first month it is a LOT :)

    4. I've been able to get round the whole continent whilst still at @85.


  8. In Cata, there are engineer's grills and dragon cauldrons. To get the good fish one, we had to fish up a billion (10k?) fish from pools. I wouldn't be entirely shocked to find a similar mechanism in MoP.

  9. So vegatables are not provided by herbalists; rather they are analagous to meat and drop off mobs?

  10. At this point in time, yes. Farming is still not implemented, so that could be an additional source of vegetables. But currently the only source is loot drops.

    1. Not the only source - you can buy bags of them with ironpaw tokens. My reasoning for building up a stash of tokens is that in theory you could dash to halfhill, buy sacks of meat and veggies, and race for realm first. As of 6/7 the sacks are 1 token each, require level 85, and contain 5 meat/veggies. The beginning recipes will cost about 2 tokens each for ingredients, but give 5 points each. The feasts are 8 tokens each. 525-575 - 20 tokens. 580-595 - 24 tokens. For those elusive 5 points, the cheapest way is 575-579 extra lungfish (or whatevers) at 2 tokens and 1 cooking skillup each =8 tokens, and then a daily hand in.

      So 20+24+8=52 tokens and a daily hand in. It might be faster to spend an additional 8 tokens on one more feast?

      (And thank goodness the fish and meat have individual icons now!)

    2. You're correct, you can use the token trading scenario at level 85 now. I didn't realize they changed that in the last build, my bad!

  11. Hmm, isn't the optimal way to RF Cooking to spend the $25 to race change to a Panda in order to use their racial cooking bonus (assuming that is still in)?

    Also designing things that are component-limited seems to me to say that Blizzard intends for RF to not be a solo player. On a larger guild or realm, there probably will be someone rich or charismatic or abusive enough to get others to farm the mats. ( Method's recent D3 kill was because others farmed the gear. ) If I were having it catered, it would be one or two people fishing and one or two killing mobs and a lock and two others heading for half. Not only can they summon me but also the mats teams.

    P.S. we antediluvian carnivores resist the new age idea of the equivalence of meat and vegetables; in our entrees or our Mop Cooking.

  12. You could try to use the Panda racial as a way to help you with RF Cooking, but I personally wouldn't trust Blizzard to offer an error/lag free experience with that on the first day of launch. If for any reason there was a delay in processing the changes, or they were broken for any reason, your RF window would be compromised or possibly gone.

    I don't know that I agree with RF Cooking being out of bounds for solo players. I was able to do it in less time than it took to do RF Leather/Tailor/Smithing in Cata. I would estimate that I sunk in 20-30 hours on this project and that's with some pretty significant tangents along the way. If you streamline you could probably do it in 15-20, possibly less if you don't have significant competition for mobs and you hone in on the right mobs with solid drop rates. To me that is very reasonable as a RF project.

    Granted if you have a guild going against you, they can certainly get it knocked out quicker. But that is always the case with any RF and you won't know until you try it and get passed by. It would have to be a pretty charismatic person who convinced their friends to ignore new content for the first few hours of MoP and spend them farming or fishing so one person can get an achievement on a secondary profession. I would consider that a low probability situation.

  13. Based on the latest data-mining, cooking has been overhauled in the upcoming patch:

    * The 595-600 issue looks fixed, with Banquets turning yellow at 600.

    * Earlier recipes require fewer ingredients, cook single dishes (not stacks), and skill-up 1 point at a time.

    * Vastly more vegetables are required. Roughly 5 times the volume compared to before.

    Gut feeling is that the source of vegetables is changing, from mobs to a combination of vendors and farms. That combination will be interesting - speculation, but presumably the intention is owners of Tiller farms to be able to undercut vendors on vegetables.

    1. Well I just got onto Lost Isle but I'm not seeing the Banquet change. My overall skill is still 600 but my "Way" skill is only 595 with all recipes gray. Not just all of my specialty recipes either, every recipe in my book is gray, which makes me wonder how I can level up the other specialties. I hope this is a bug :(

      I do see that the grocery bags have been updated as well with most of the veggies now requiring 100 to make a bundle. And still no Tillers are activated.

    2. Everything grey pre-600 is a UI error. You need to track progress in each Way based on the skill-ups reported in the chat text, and cross-reference those to the orange/yellow/grey values contained in the game's data files to know what should be granting skill-ups. Wowhead still doesn't display those numbers for Ways, WoWDB's presentation is inconvenient, and "just read SkillLineAbility.dbc" is probably not terribly useful advice for most people. Fortunately the pattern is quite simple at the moment:

      525-recipes: Orange till 550, 1 skill-up/cook.
      550-recipes: Orange till 575, 2 skill-up/cook.
      575-feasts: Orange till 600, 5 skill-up/cook.

  14. Bah, I hate when I jump in too early. Luckily I can run it again on a premade. Thanks for the heads-up, I'll be sure to check it out. I hope they activate the Tillers so we can start growing all these veggies we need now.

  15. one other thing to note the dailies in IF/SW/Darn no longer provide a skill up or token in beta (even for low level chefs)

  16. My plan to have a million cooking tokens is a bust. They've sorted out Org cooking quest tokens from Ironpaw tokens on the beta now. (and there was no rejoicing from me!)

  17. Awww- and as of today, it looks like the Stormwind cooking quests are no longer rewarding MoP tokens, rewarding Epicurean tokens instead

  18. FYI, I was levelling my priest and noticed that I could get the cooking quest at 385 cooking and when I read your post I went and checked on my shaman, which is at 310. He was also able to get the quest. I'll see about copying over one of my toons that is at 0 cooking to see if there is indeed a minimum. Maybe levelling cooking just got a whole lot easier. We'll see if this remains when MoP goes live.

  19. Not quite sure now.. Little bit confused.
    Do I need to do Dailies or can I level cooking within a few hours? Or is there like a "barrier", like it had been with JC in Cataclysm (Needed 3 Dailies for the first recipe to reach 525).

    1. I don't know that you can level Cooking in just a few hours. When I leveled Cooking it took me around 20 hours to collect all the meat/veggies needed to cap one of the "Way" paths.

      There's no artificial bottleneck, but the mats are steep enough that collecting them is a significant hurdle.

  20. Why Way of the Pot and Way of the Brew? The Ginseng can be bought directly at Sungshin Ironpaw? Then it is possible to level to 554 without ANY farming etc..

    1. At the time of this test, Ginseng was MIA. I believe it was added a few patches later. But yes, at this point Way of the Brew may be the easiest one to start. I don't think it will be the easiest to finish though, as it requires the highest number of veggies.

      FYI my next test of Cooking (in a few days) will be Way of the Brew. But I've had weeks to collect all the veggies from my farm. Not a fair test of the power-leveling process but I'm doing it as an addition to this guide.

    2. Some head's up that as far as we know, vegetable drops were removed from mobs. Realm First will need to mass-grind other materials and trade via Ironpaw Tokens for vegetables. The only critical caveat is to use the initial Ironpaw Tokens to buy so carrots, since Nam Ironpaw's repeatable quest does not unlock until all the the Ways' initial quest have been completed, one of which requires carrots. More detail here - .

      Choice of Way for Realm First depends primarily on what you can grind quickest, secondarily on keeping the volume of ingredient trades to a minimum, since they are inefficient. Gut feeling is Way of the Oven, since that minimises the amount of vegetables to be traded, and all the meat and fish can be gained in the first 3 zones, all of which are grind-able at 85. However, given the volumes involved and the transferability of ingredients, a team effort is the best strategy - a couple of people working together will easily ensure one of those people gets the achievement.

    3. Thanks for the new info! I didn't realize that the veggie drops were removed, how odd. So the only way to get them now is via Farming or the Cooking daily token.

      I thought "Oven" was the best option too, that's the first one I tested. Since I was 85 at that time I leaned heavily toward the fish/meat I could farm in the first two zones.

  21. wow, it took me like 10 minutes to realize that most of the comments are from around June and are almost completely out of date lol.

    the updated guide is great, as expected!

    quick question:
    when you level up cooking did your skill points actually get you to 575 or did you land on 576? I landed on 576 and I dont really wanna reveal my realm first strategy just yet but the difference between 575 and 576 is bigger than just the obvious single skill point :)
    Also I am not quite sure which way is the quickest to get to 600 but I agree that way of the brew is probably the worst and seeing how its specialty "only" benefits stamina IIRC it seems more like a fun side thing to do.

    1. I don't have notes on the 575 portion of my leveling process, so I can't say for sure. I would guess 575 since I didn't make note of doing anything unusual at that point. I would have to agree with you on Brew, the veggie usage is too high for it to be an optimal path on Day 1. More likely it will be the path folks work on after they are overflowing with veggies from unlocking their Farm and grinding to Revered with the Tillers.

  22. Little bit of updated data:
    Since live I am seeing far far less Veg drop from killing mobs.
    (Farms are going to be very profitable)
    Your normal cooking only gets points from doing your highest of the ways cooking
    (If you have 575 in Brew and 550 in Oven making oven food will not get you a point in reg cooking till it gets to 576 )
    At 575 in each way it takes 5 casts of the smaller banquet to max that way.
    Easy way to level just one toon for cooking:
    Do the cooking quests to open all the ways on all your alts.
    Use the tokens from your alts to buy the needed mats for your main cooking toon.

  23. Hi! Any idea if DMF cooking quest touches the "Way of" skills? Or just the overall cooking skill? Thanks :)

    1. I believe DMF only affects the overall Cooking skill, but I could be mistaken on that.

  24. One thing that I would strongly suggest. If you have alts, get them through the lead in quest to pandaria, and run them over to halfhill. What I have done, is pick the "way" that I want to complete on my main for the day, and have my alts plant those vegetables on the farm. I predominately fish up the rest of my mats needed and turn the rest in for tokens (much time spent on the nat pagle fish), or if they are close, say the mushan, wild fowl, or turtle.