Jun 29, 2021 • 42M

XO Soused - Creativity in the Chinese professional kitchen

Andrew Wong and Mukta Das
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A fortnightly chat about techniques and dishes from a professional Chinese kitchen, their history and their cultural setting
Episode details

How does creativity work for a professional chef cooking Chinese food?

What was creative culinary life like in the palace kitchens in China? What was the role of tradition and how did other rules and boundaries either restrict or even elevate innovative thinking? When there’s too much choice - a defining characteristic of working from vast and well stocked palace stores - how does a chef find a culinary direction or a theme, and find a space for his specialism?

And what rules and boundaries allow Andrew to innovate in his kitchen? How does his experience mirror the creative lives of imperial chefs in the past or of the Michelin-starred chefs around him?

If you’d like to read more about chefs in the Qing Court:
Rawski, E, 1998. The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions. University of California Press. Pages on food and the court (pp 46-49) can be viewed for free on Google Books

An overhead image of a paper taped to the stainless steel surface of a restaurant pass showing a table with the names of dishes and the timings for when these dishes should be served to diners
Andrew’s life is one that is governed by rules. This is his view during service - a list of dishes and exact timings for when these dishes should leave the pass and be presented to the diner. Andrew has to find time and space to innovate in the spaces between these and all the other rules that shape his working life.

XO Soused is a fortnightly audio newsletter.

Intro and outro music: 遊子 [wanderer] by mafmadmaf.com

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