In our monthly series 'Getting Moderately Deep With... ' we ask a food vendor tough questions. Well, sort-of tough.
This month we meet Mr. Zhang, the chief cook of Beijing No. 55 High School canteen.
What is your idea of the perfect day?
When I wake up on time at 5am and head to work motivated. I love it when the day gets super busy.
What's the first thing you thought when you woke up this morning?
Definitely about today's task. I have lots to cook for all the sections – local, international and the South campus. I always have a set of different dishes in my mind.
Who is your best customer?
I'd say my best customers are the international students in our school. I get to have the privilege of sharing Chinese food culture with them.
Who's your worst customer?
I think it's me, because I'm always very strict about my work. I tend to consider myself an enemy and I base the assessment of my work on this thought.
Which living person do you admire the most?
My cook master in Henan for sure. Without him, I wouldn't be here today.
How are you feeling today?
So far, I'm feeling fantastic.
When and where were you happiest?
When I see the students eat what I cook with a smile on their face. And also when I get to choose what I cook – it gives me a goal that I can work harder towards.
Which talent would you most like to possess?
I think I'd like to have a talent in educating my kids. I really want my 13-year-old and 7-year-old sons to become kind hardworking people.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
When I achieved my dream in 2011 – I became a cook in Beijing.
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I would like to be fluent in English.
What is your most treasured possession?
What trait do you most value in a person?
Morals. I believe morals are what makes a person decent.
What is it that you most dislike?
Laziness. I have a heavy workload and the type of working environment where nothing could be done on time with laziness.
Which era of Beijing's history would you most like to have lived in?
I think any is fine by me, because food has always been a necessity and that means I could probably get a job related to food in every era! [laughs]
Who is your hero?
My cook master is my hero. I am so grateful for what he had taught me and for making my dream of becoming a cook come true.
You can find (and taste) Li's soups and other specialties at Miao La 喵辣 at 11 Dongyangwei jie, Dongzhimen, Dongcheng 东城区东直门东扬威街11号
Read more Getting Moderately Deep With...