For the first time, the Guangzhou-based Western restaurant Get Holiday joined "Good France," a campaign initiated by the French government to promote French cooking and present the charm of French cuisine.
Each March, over 5,000 chefs from different restaurants across the globe join together at the global cuisine event, which has been held for five years, to share their exclusive tips for making French cuisine.
Chen Xiaoshan, the owner of Get Holiday, has been running Western restaurants for nine years. In 2010, he opened his first restaurant Cafe 107. Over the past nine years, he has been dedicated to integrating Mediterranean cuisine with Cantonese dietary culture. During this period, his business has achieved year-on-year expansion.
What brings him even more joy, is that all kinds of exotic ingredients can be served at the table more conveniently.
According to Chen, in his restaurant, about 480 fresh French oysters are served each month. "The French government adopts strict detection mechanisms on oyster farming, and thanks to the opening of an air route and a highly-efficient customs clearance system in China, we are able to serve the freshest imported ingredients," he said.
The plane fully loaded with fresh oysters leaves France for China every Tuesday and Friday, landing in Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport at 6 a.m. the next morning. About six hours later, the oysters are delivered to Chen's restaurant by local wholesalers, ready to be served for dinner.
In recent years, to further reduce the time and cost it takes to import and export goods, Chinese customs has implemented new measures such as optimizing the customs clearance process, simplifying the procedures for filing documents and reducing port charges.
Statistics show that in 2018, the overall customs clearance time for China's imports was 56.36 percent lower than the average time for 2017.
"As the customs clearance process for imported ingredients has become further simplified, the transportation costs have been reduced accordingly," Chen said.
Chen's restaurant has not only attracted locals but also quite a few French customers. Christian Saint Gilles, a frequent customer at Chen's restaurant, became close friends with the owner.
Gilles works as a fashion designer, but he is also a skilled French chef. In 2018, Chen opened his second Western restaurant, Get Holiday, and invited Gilles to be his culinary counselor.
"As the counselor, I developed a range of Mediterranean-style dishes and designed an open terrace and kitchen to make the restaurant a more open and diverse place," said Gilles.
This year, inspired by Gilles, Chen and his restaurant participated in the global food event Good France, which opened on Thursday and will last for four days. According to the rules, all participating restaurants will follow the spirit of protecting the environment and promoting healthy cooking styles. Five percent of the sales revenue will be donated to a local NGO engaged in health care and environmental protection.
"I give my full support to this initiative and I hope the food served in my restaurant can better integrate Chinese and Western culture", Chen said.