Three generations of Shanghai famed chefs who once cooked for numerous Chinese and foreign leaders like Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Nixon and Clinton appeared recently in a rare gathering in which ten "nationally ranked" chefs revealed the "favorite" foods of various leaders, domestic and foreign and some of the remarks are amusing as well as revelatory.
Mao Zedong: "Fatty Meats Help Longevity"
Spotting white hair and sideburns, Shanghai's Cantonese "legendary cook" Mr. Dong Linfa was once a professional chef for Mao. He said, "I spent five years cooking for Chairman Mao and remembered him favoring braised meat, particularly fatty meats." Dong Linfa said that Chairman Mao often said to those around him, "Fatty meats help longevity."
Deng Xiaoping: "Eat All of North and South"
Shanghai's Fujian chef Lu Jinhua confirmed that Deng was quite complimentary towards Fujian's cooking style that preserved as much of the original flavor and juices as possible, a style that can be found in the lavish "Buddha leaps over the wall" banquet to the plain "fish ball soup." The legendary Beijing style chef Hu Limei also said that during state dinners hosted by Deng, the menu would not only have Peking style dishes, but also various cuisines from the north and south of China. "Eat all of North and South" became a popular saying associated with Deng.
Bill Clinton: "Touched" by Shrimps
Praised as "heir to genuine Shanghainese cuisine," Fan Zhengming, the chef of Shanghai's Peace Hotel, many years ago received a letter of "appreciation" from Mr. and Mrs. Clinton. The reason was when Clinton visited China and stopped in Shanghai and ate the food prepared by Fan Zhengming, the former US president could not forget the delicious little shrimps he ate.
(Chinanews.cn October 12, 2005)