China with a Portuguese flair: Why it’s time you visited Macao

Published on on 17th April 2018

Known as the Vegas of the East, Macao has held the title of the biggest gaming destination of the world for over a decade.

And yet, this tiny special administrative region (SAR) of China, consisting of a peninsula and two islands, has so much more to offer.

For one thing, having been a Portuguese colony for more than four hundred years, its architecture and its food has taken on a distinctively Portuguese flair.



A modern twist on ancient China

Published in The Mail on Sunday on 8th October 2017

Also published on MailOnline

Shuffling with the crowds along Kuan Zhai Alley, a network of lanes dating from the Qing dynasty, I breathe in deep.

A familiar blend of smoky chilli, toasted Sichuan peppercorns and crushed garlic invades my nostrils; it instantly feels like home.

This is my first visit to Chengdu in three years, and, like each of my previous visits, the city has taken on a new visage. But in a place like this, it doesn’t take long to get reacquainted.

Read more at MailOnline

China goes super-sized

Published on host. Milano. on 6th November 2015:

crabs in Shanghai

This year, size is everything in China. Or more precisely, it’s all about food going super-sized. The country, it seems, is on a journey to dominate Guinness World Records.

Naturally, bigger is better and the more the merrier. So far this year, China has presented us with the world’s biggest steamed bun, which was studded with smaller buns, and the world’s largest tofu that weighed a staggering eight tons. There was also the most number of people having breakfast at the same time as well as the most number of people cooking at the same time.

Taking part are cities, festivals, restaurants and even hotels, often at great expense. Luckily, the corresponding publicity has been equally large, both domestically and internationally.

Perhaps that’s why the trend seems to be picking up pace. In September this year, three food related record attempts were made in different parts of China in one weekend alone.

Anhui Province in eastern China tried their hand at creating the world’s largest pot of beef soup. Liaoning Province, which borders North Korea, celebrated South Korea Week with the world’s largest bibimbap. Meanwhile, another part of the province welcomed the crab season with the world’s largest pot of steamed crabs, which had to be lifted with a crane.

Is it simply madness?

Many people do find the waste aspect a deterrent, something of an almost inevitable by-product. That said, so far, these stunts have attracted enough visitors to spare the wastage. What’s more, the resulting publicity has often increased tourists and business to the area.

So in today’s busy food market, is a record attempt the key to gaining business? Well, there are certainly enough people that think so. But how sustainable it will be is anyone’s guess.

Wine will never replace baijiu but it can be an occasional substitute

Published on host. Milano. on 11th September 2015:

vineyard in Chile

Earlier this year, Guillaume Deglise, CEO of Vinexpo, expressed what was described as a ‘silver lining’ for winemakers wishing to enter the Chinese wine market. He posited that, in spite of the clamp down on gifting, China is set to be a growing market.

But while wine at the banqueting table is no longer a rare occurrence, neither is it a staple. For the inescapable banquets like birthdays, weddings and funerals, baijiu, the traditional Chinese spirit, is still the drink of choice for toasting. In every day feasting however, grape wine has made steady gains.

In the service industry, those that are catering to an affluent crowd are already serving up a good selection of wines. The recently opened St Regis in Chengdu, for example, has the city’s first wine-only hotel bar. And with an increasingly knowledgeable consumer base, food and beverage mangers are only looking to diversify into other markets.

Bordeaux and Burgundy are still popular. Case in point, new Hong Kong wine magazine Le Pan has chosen to host its launch in Bordeaux. But those wishing to stay ahead of the curve should look to other wine regions.

The new world in particular is vying for the top spots in the tightened premium wine markets.

Chilean pioneers Vina Errazuriz and Vina Montes have both long invested in the Chinese market, including regular brand focused events. Australian cult-wine Penfolds already has a loyal following. And New Zealand’s Marisco Vineyards is still incredibly proud of the fact that they were judged the best wines for Chinese food at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition, two years ago.

So what does this mean for HORECA?

Well there are some obvious design changes.

As well as allowing space for storage, temperature considerations are important. This is especially true for a country where seasonal temperatures vary greatly but indoor temperature control is not the norm. A second consideration would be display – consumers should be made aware of your product offering and be enticed by it. Finally, you’ll have to think about the details like wine glasses, corkscrews, decanters and maybe even enomatic machines.

Offering wine, and doing it well, will certainly mean greater expense in terms of restaurant design. But it may well pay off in the long run.

Read moer at host. Milano.

Published on MailOnline on 7th September 2015