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Chinese cuisine has long been one of the best known and most popular in the world, and now Chinese chefs have more educational opportunities than many of their foreign counterparts.

Some local cooks are currently studying for university diplomas or even postgraduate degrees.

"As modern cooking focuses more on nutrition and science, a good cook should be both a nutritionist and technologist," said Yu Fenglei, a student of Harbin University of Commerce, in the capital of Heilongjiang Province.

In the past, local youngsters who wanted to be a cook had to find an experienced chef as a tutor and had to learn from the mentor for many years before he could be qualified to cook.

Chinese cuisine has a history of more than 3,000 years, and it is facing great opportunities of development, according to some local experts. They point out that the booming catering business is in need of higher-quality talent with a higher educational background.

By the end of 2002, China had over 20 million people working in local restaurants and cafes, according to official statistics.

Bian Jiang, deputy secretary general of the China Chefs Association, said China has taken the lead in the fostering of cooks in the world. A number of Chinese universities have recruited students who want to be cooking experts or teachers on cuisine.

Among these university students, there are a few women, which is considered a breakthrough as cooking was traditionally regarded as a man's job.

(Xinhua News Agency April 1, 2003)

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