Many gourmets and chefs from nearly 10 countries, including France, Germany, Britain and Italy attended the western food festival held in Tianjin city. Over 20 provinces and autonomous regions in China sent their best chefs to the event. The chefs of the Red House Western Food Restaurant in Shanghai showed off their knowledge of French cuisine and prepared their popular roasted Lamb rib and baked snails dish. While the White Crane Hotel in Guangzhou, south China prepared their best western dish, the fish roll and mutton with cheese and vanilla. And the Kiessling Restaurant in Tianjin cooked its Russian style roast suckling pig and milky salmon. The crowds of spectators and food connoisseurs had a great opportunity to taste the best of foreign food and find out more about western cuisine.
Wang Jiali was among the crowds. She says she likes western food very much. "In the past, western food was a luxury. It used to cost a lot of money. But now life is much better. People can afford to try western food. I think snack food is not real western food, just like instant coffee is not real coffee. At this western food festival, we can get a real taste of proper western food".
Two decades ago, only five-star hotels and a few restaurants in China provided good western food. Many of the customers were foreign visitors. But now it has become more widely available and there are more western food restaurants in cities. But much of the food is cooked in the old style. China needs to catch up with new trends in western cuisine.
Mr Christian is a chef from the UK. "I think there is a long way to go. We're all here to train the Chinese staff, because the western food always changes. It's never stand still. The western food in China, it's stand still. That's why we are here now to bring it up to date. I think the western food in china has a great future. You'll feel in the next few years it will change dramatically".
Many Chinese cooks working in western restaurants value this opportunity to learn. Zhang Jinkun is the manager of the Red House, a well-known western food restaurant in Shanghai. "This is the first time that a western food festival has been held in China. And this is a big gathering for people working in the food industry. At the festival, we saw food that we haven't seen in Shanghai yet. We need a continual exchange of experience with our counterparts in other parts of the world. If you don't keep up to date with the developments in western food, you'll eventually be pushed out of the market. I've learnt a lot from this festival and made some new friends."
(China Radio International November 2, 2001)