China's oldest Peking duck restaurant chain, Quanjude (Group) Co
Ltd, plans to use electric ovens to replace traditional
hand-roasting procedures in cooking ducks.
The move is aimed at maintaining food quality while the company
expands its business across China after it became listed on the
Shenzhen Stock Exchange a month ago.
In the traditional way, the duck is hung in the oven roasted by
flames burning from fruitwood. It takes about 45 minutes for the
duck to be done and chefs keep adjusting the duck to ensure it's
The electric ovens, based on computerized operation jointly
developed by Quanjude and a German company, will keep the handmade
techniques and simplify roasting procedures, said Xing Ying,
general manager with Quanjude, according to Monday's Beijing
Many of the Beijing-based outlets, particularly those in other
regions of the country, must use the new ovens that will ensure
quality standards and automatic duck production, said Xing.
However, many feared that ducks may lose the original flavor of
the firewood and computer-controlled roasting may not run as
precisely as experienced chefs.
In addition, people consider the human-monitored roasting
technique, which has been passed on for more than 140 years, a key
tradition of Quanjude and part of Beijing's culture. Computerized
production may diminish the attraction of the famous brand.
Quanjude said they will spray a special natural fruit juice on
the ducks before roasting and promised to keep using traditional
hand-roasting techniques in some key restaurants in Beijing.
The company, which sells more than 3 million ducks a year to
some 5 million patrons, has raised 388 million yuan (US$52 million)
on the Shenzhen bourse to support its goal of growing into an
The company said it would use the proceeds for outlet renovation
and expansion and upgrading its food production bases and logistic
Quanjude has nine restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing
and Changchun and 61 franchised outlets, including 56 on the
mainland and five overseas.
Founded in 1864 during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the last
imperial rulers of China, it is one of the most renowned
restaurants in China. Eating roast duck has become a main
attraction for overseas tourists.
The company posted net profits of 25.62 million yuan (US$3.46
million) in the first quarter of 2007 with about 600 million yuan
in total assets (US$81 million).
(China Daily December 24, 2007)