It is 6.00 am, in Canton, in the South of China. The employees of the Jin Cheng restaurant get ready: collective dancing and singing will contribute to make this new day a successful one. The stakes are high: the restaurant has a reputation of excellence due to its ‘Chao’ specialties: to guarantee the authenticity of ‘Chao’ flavours, the supplying of fish, shellfish and tofu, among many others items, must come from the original source… where the skills of this ethnic group are still applied in accordance with the ancestral rules and where the quality and freshness of the products is indisputable. Nothing can be properly done if the traditions are not respected.
Chua Zhon’s, the Maître D, makes sure during his daily inspection that everything is perfect: in the kitchen, in the restaurant, in the storage. Today, he leaves as every year, to meet his various suppliers back home. We will travel with him to the provincial birthplace of the Chao ethnic group, some 400 km away from Canton. Here, we will attempt to lift the secrets of those special, unequalled flavours.
Meanwhile, the owner, Mr Luo, is concentrating on the opening of his fifth restaurant. The decoration, the date and time of the opening … everything must be strictly planned, because each detail is very important for a successful business! The presence of the Spirits, duly consulted with the help of a “feng shui” master, is required at each step of the birth of the restaurant: applying strict management techniques as well as obeying the Spirits is the ultimate guarantee for success.
As we follow the workings of this enterprise, we will understand how for the Chao Diaspora, cooking is an excellent cure against nostalgia. The meals enable those who, like Mr Luo, left their native province to seek fortunes far away from home, to perpetuate their culture, their traditional skills, their ethnic belonging … all the while enjoying delicious food.