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The Peninsula Chefs Turn Yunnan’s Bounty into an Extraordinary Feast

September 17, 2015
Chinese chefs and restaurant managers from six Peninsula hotels convened in Yunnan province this July for a five-day hands-on culinary tour exploring the region’s high-quality produce, teas, mushrooms and meats. Led by The Peninsula Hotels’ Manager of Chinese Food & Beverage Operations along with the group’s Executive Chef and Dim Sum Ambassador, the members foraged for wild mushrooms in the hills of Chuxiong, learned the intricacies of aromatic pu’er tea on a plantation tour at Xishuangbanna, and visited a pig farm in Xuanwei to observe how Yunnan ham is produced. Representing Tokyo were Hei Fung Terrace Executive Chinese Chef Dicky To and Manager Tomoyuki Nonaka. In addition to Hong Kong, the other Peninsula destinations participating were Bangkok, Beijing, Chicago and Paris.
Moving to Hong Kong after the experience, the chefs joined forces to prepare an eight-course Chinese Culinary Masters feast at The Peninsula’s Spring Moon restaurant, the first gastronomic program in the Peninsula Signature Event series. With the expertize and diverse backgrounds of the chefs on full display, dinner guests were treated to an over-the-top experience of gourmet ingredients including Yunnan mushrooms and dry-cured ham. Part of the proceeds from the July 10 event were donated to the Hong Kong Hereditary Breast Cancer Family Registry to support breast cancer patients and their families.

Before embarking on their journey through Yunnan, each participating team was assigned a key ingredient and method of preparation for one course of the dinner, with dessert handled by Yip Wing Wah, The Peninsula Hotels Dim Sum Ambassador and Master Chef. In a draw conducted by The Peninsula Hotels’ Group General Manager of Operations, the Tokyo duo was tasked with conceiving a sautéed dish using meat. Chef To answered with wok-fried Wagyu beef with sautéed porcini and Yunnan bell pepper, a colorful dish that united premium ingredients of China and Japan.
Chef To, a native of Hong Kong, commented “After having been away from Hong Kong for seven years it was my great pleasure to present my dish to local guests in our flagship hotel and to work hand-in-hand with Chef Frankie Tang at Spring Moon. His suggestions to use broad beans and mini bell peppers from Yunnan combined with Daliang milk from Shuntak in Canton lent a distinct local flair to the dish that complemented the high-quality beef and resulted in a complicated flavor and texture. This was a wonderful opportunity for many Chinese chefs from our hotel group to work together to provide a unique experience for our guests.”

Reflecting on their time in Yunnan upon his return to Tokyo, Nonaka noted the strict standards of quality control observed in the production of mushrooms, pu’er tea and ham. “The sites we visited had the highest levels of food safety and security in place. And as we used our senses of sight, touch, smell and taste we experienced directly, at a personal level, the passion of the producers whose dedicated work brings these gifts of nature to market for us to share.” Thanks to this interactive gathering of chefs and restaurant managers in the fertile province of Yunnan and later in the kitchen of Spring Moon, Peninsula diners at all our hotels will benefit from the new knowledge and skills these Chinese culinary experts have brought back to their kitchens and restaurants.
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