Getting Moderately Deep With... An Assistant Chef at a Beijing Duck Restaurant

By Yuka Hayashi, April 19, 2019

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In our monthly series 'Getting Moderately Deep With... ' we ask a food vendor tough questions. Well, sort-of tough.


This month we meet Nai, the assistant to the chief chef at a Peking duck restaurant. 

What is your idea of the perfect day? 
When the restaurant is busy – and also when my boss makes a ton of money, because that's when we get paid extra! 

What's the first thing you thought when you woke up this morning? 
I was thinking of what I have to prepare to today. I usually prepare Peking duck and some cold dishes and appetizers.

Who is your best customer? 
Everyone who eats here!

Which living person do you most admire? 
My boss – I think everyone admires their boss. I mean, who doesn't want to work parttime and make loads of money like their boss does? 

How are you feeling today? 
I'm feeling alright. Sundays are usually not our best day, because the majority of our customers are office workers around this area. It's usually Monday to Friday during lunchtime that we feel super productive. Almost every table orders our Peking duck. 

When and where were you happiest?
When I get paid. I usually save around 2-3k for myself and send the rest back to my home in Henan.

Which talent would you most like to have? 
To be the best cook in town. As a cook, I think that's the talent I need and want the most. 

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
I don't have one yet, but if I were to have one it will be when I become the owner of a restaurant myself. The cuisine would depend on where I open it. For example, I wouldn't open a Peking duck restaurant in my hometown of Kaifeng, Henan, because we Southerners don't eat Peking duck much. 

If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? 
I'd change my profession. Although it's quite rewarding, it's extremely tiring. I wish I was doing something a little less energy-consuming. 

What is your most treasured possession? 
My family. I have two kids – a 15-year-old and an 8-year-old.

What trait do you most value in a person? 
Their personality. 

What is it that you most dislike? 
When a boss doesn't pay salaries on time. Fortunately, my boss doesn't do such a thing, but I know many friends who have to deal with delayed paydays all the time.

What is your motto? 
Always help others. 

What makes you laugh? 
When the business is doing well and I make lots of money. [smirks]

What's the most surprising thing that's happened to you? 
Unexpected bonus salary.

Which era of Beijing's history would you most like to have lived in?  
I’m pretty satisfied with Chinese society nowadays. It's safe and stable: There's nothing crazy going on.

Who is your hero? 
Ma Yun. He's the perfect example of being successful. I mean, everyone – even little kids – know him.

[Cover photo via Yuka Hayashi/That's]

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