Foreigners learn the secrets to making popular Chinese recipes and serve them in restaurants abroad
Although he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, 26-yearold Adrian from the Philippines started to learn how to make Chinese Jinyun shaob
ing (clay oven rolls) from scratch in Jinyun,
Zhejiang Province in April.
“One month ago, I ate Jinyun shaobing for the first time, and I was immediately drawn by the flavor. So, I decided to learn how to make Chinese shaobing and open shops selling them in the Philippines,” Adrian said.
“For now, I plan to open at least three stores in the Philippines. I believe there is a huge market for Chinese shaobing there.”
With more foreigners coming to China to study, work or do business, many of them are attracted to traditional Chinese food like shaobing, jianbing (savory Chinese crepes) and baozi (steamed stuffed buns).
Not only do they enjoy these foods by dining on them, but some turn them into successful business stories in their own countries and introduce the flavors around the world.
Bringing Chinese delicacies back
Adrian was born in Manila, but he is of Chinese origin. Adrian's grandfather went to the Philippines from Fujian Province decades ago. His Chinese name is Cai Qingyuan.
Adrian's father runs a grocery store chain in the Philippines, and his business is deeply connected to China. He constantly travels to Yiwu in Zhejiang Province and Guangzhou in Guangdong Province for business.
Since Adrian's father is grooming him to take over the family business, Adrian travels to China with his father all the time.
Adrian said that his father's business is quite successful and his family has a 2,000-square- meter manor in Manila.
“I am not really interested in taking over his business though; I want to start my own business, and I believe Chinese shaobing is my business opportunity,” Adrian said.
After only a month, Adrian and his aunt flew to Jinyun, found a local Jinyun shaobing maker named Zhou Kai and asked him to be their teacher. The local government had named Zhou a senior master of Jinyun shaobing in 2016.
Adrian and his aunt each paid 5,000 yuan ($784) for a 15-day training course. From 7 am to 7 pm, they stayed in Zhou's store, learning how to make shaobing.
Adrian and his aunt learned from scratch, which started with how to knead the dough, then how to add the stuffing and paste and finally, how to put it into the sizzling hot oven.
Adrian carries a pad and paper with him at all times, and he writes down everything Zhou tells them.
After 15 days of learning the process of making shaobing, they still need to hone their technique. Zhou promised Adrian that he will continue to coach Adrian and his aunt online until they have mastered the technique.
Adrian has ordered an oven from China specifically for making Jinyun shaobing.
“As soon as the oven arrives, my aunt and I will continue to practice making shaobing and start preparing to open stores,” Adrian told Metropolitan.
It is not the first time that Jinyun has received foreigners who are eager to learn how to make Chinese shaobing.
According to Zhou Yajun, an employee at the Jinyun Shaobing Office (an organization that promotes Jinyun shao
bing to the world and organizes training sessions), back in October 2014, a man named Mark from Russia also came to Jinyun to learn how to make shaobing.
“He was our first international student. Mark was very talented in learning making shaobing; it only took him a couple of days to learn,” Zhou recalled.
“He told us that he was going to open shaobing stores in Russia, but I don't know how he is doing now. We didn't keep in touch after he left.”
Mark said that Chinese shaobing is like pizza in Western countries. The difference is that a shaobing's stuffing is on the inside, while pizza puts toppings on the outside. The baking method is also very different; the temperature of the
shaobing oven could reach 300 C, and it is a real test of one's technique to stick a hand into the oven and place the dough inside, according to Zhou.
Ying Yaoqiang, the deputy director of the Jinyun Shaobing Office said that there are over 7,000 Jinyun shaobing stores globally, and the total sales volume could reach 1.5 billion yuan.
“In recent years, there are more foreigners like Adrian and Mark coming over to Jinyun to learn how to make
shaobing,” Ying said. “Chinese shaobing are being accepted by more foreigners. I hope Adrian can help introduce shaobing to more people in the Philippines, and I hope his business is a success.”
Good economic returns
Before Jinyun shaobing, jianbing were brought to the Western world by enthusiastic foreign foodies, and the businesses have been a big success.
According to a report by China News Agency in December 2015, Brain Goldberg from the US opened a jianbing food truck in Time Square called Mr. Bing after living in China for four years.
Goldberg went to university in Beijing back in 1998, and during that time, he would always grab a jianbing in the morning on his way to class.
“When I left Beijing, I missed the taste of jianbing so much, and I missed the times when I would eat them on cold winter mornings with my Chinese classmates,” Goldberg said in the report.
So, he came back to Beijing to learn how to make jianbing.
He learned how to make the crepes in the original Chinese way and also adapted the jianbing recipe to accommodate a wider range of customers, such as putting Peking duck and roast pork in them.
According to the report, each jianbing in Goldberg's store sells for $15, and he earned almost 1 million yuan in just a couple of months.
“I want to let people from all over the world enjoy jianbing like I did,” Goldberg said in the report.
“In the future, I am going to open more food trucks to sell the flavored crepes, provide catering services and participate at local food festivals to promote jianbing,” he said.
A foreign apprentice places Jinyun shaobing into a special oven.
A make master in Jinyun teaches how to