The secrets of a kitchen king

By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2021-06-22 14:17
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A veteran of the restaurant world spills the beans on cooking that makes the grade, Li Yingxue reports.

Zhao Renliang has worked in restaurant kitchen for 57 years and, whether as an apprentice cook or as executive chef, he has never left the stove.

In fact, not even a brief flirt with retirement has been able to persuade Zhao, 83, that his place is elsewhere than in the kitchen. He enjoys creating new dishes and menus and working with young people too much to consider that possibility.

"Setting a menu for a meal is like a doctor preparing a prescription."

The chef has to consider both the diners' preferences and present different cooking skills in one meal, he says.

Zhao, who has expertise in Shanghai, Cantonese, Sichuan and Western cuisine, was named a National Model Worker in 1994.

Three years later he was honored with the China Craftsmanship Award. In its 25 years it has been won by 300 people, only three of whom have been chefs.

Zhao, born in Shanghai in 1948, started working in the kitchen of the renowned Peace Hotel in 1964.

"When I finished middle school in 1960s there were no culinary schools. Everybody picked up their skills from experienced chefs in the kitchen."

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