Bring­ing Ger­man Fla­vor to China

A baker ful­fills his child­hood dream By Pan Jian­ing & Liu Jia

Beijing Review - - Culture -

If Alex Mor­gan had not trav­eled to Bei­jing for the Sum­mer Olympic Games in 2008, he could never have imag­ined his child­hood dream com­ing true in China, far away from Olden­burg, his home­town in Ger­many.

“The global fi­nan­cial cri­sis swept over ev­ery cor­ner in Europe, in­clud­ing the ho­tel in­dus­try,” said Alex, who worked for a ho­tel com­pany in Lon­don at the time. “I went to Bei­jing for re­lax­ation, never think­ing of set­tling down in China.”

In­vited by two Chi­nese college friends, Alex set foot in China for the first time in 2008. Dur­ing his six-week stay, he was as­ton­ished by the coun­try’s amaz­ing de­vel­op­ment and the abun­dant op­por­tu­ni­ties it af­forded, and made up his mind to seek a new life there.

Af­ter the Olympics, he quit his job in Lon­don and flew to Bei­jing. “Com­ing to China is one of the best de­ci­sions I’ve ever made in my life,” Alex, 42, told Bei­jing Re­view.

A child­hood dream

Six months af­ter work­ing with a Ger­man com­pany in Bei­jing, Alex was trans­ferred to Shenyang, cap­i­tal of north­east China’s Liaon­ing Prov­ince, for a one-year co­op­er­a­tive project with Ger­man au­tomaker BMW.

There, many Ger­man friends of­ten com­plained about the lack of Ger­man bak­eries, be­ing forced to bring back im­ported bread from Bei­jing and Shang­hai on their business trips. Alex quickly re­al­ized it was a great business op­por­tu­nity and be­gan to take ac­tion. “Run­ning my own business has been my dream since child­hood,” Alex said. “I of­ten tell my fam­ily and friends I should have come here ear­lier be­cause then I would have ful­filled my business dream ear­lier.”

In the late 1930s, be­fore World War II, Alex’s great-grand­fa­ther Bern­hard Wempe ran a bak­ery in Olden­burg. “For Ger­man peo­ple, bread is our most tra­di­tional and beloved food as jiaozi is for the Chi­nese,” he said. Bread is of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by sausages, hams and var­i­ous mar­malades, ac­cord­ing to Alex. There are more than 400 dif­fer­ent kinds of bread in­clud­ing buns and sliced bread.

“The Wempe Bak­ery brand and its logo be­long to my mum’s fam­ily; it is amaz­ing to ful­fill my dream and to con­tinue my great­grand­fa­ther’s bak­ery business al­most a cen­tury later in China,” Alex ex­claimed.

In 2012, sev­eral weeks be­fore Wempe Bak­ery was to open, Alex flew back to Ger­many and dur­ing that trip, vis­ited the Ber­lin Zoo. He saw the gi­ant panda named Baobao, a diplo­matic gift from China to Ger­many in 1980, which eats pret­zels in­stead of fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles.

“The gi­ant panda is the sym­bol of China and that must be a good omen for my bread business in China,” Alex re­called cheer­fully. Now Wempe has be­come a well-known lo­cal bak­ery with three branches and is also the des­ig­nated sup­plier for sev­eral ho­tels such as the Hilton, Sum­mer­set, Hy­att and Kempin­ski.

“Chi­nese peo­ple choose a lucky name when they start a new business, so I did in China as the Chi­nese do.” Alex said. He named his bak­ery Wan Pai, which im­plies good for­tune in Chi­nese: Wan refers to 10,000 and pai means de­liv­er­ies.

“Mak­ing this my base camp, I want to sell

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