(Photo: Tencent News)
While many recent college graduates find themselves in strange careers after joining the workforce, Zhou Siwei left her school days behind with one goal in mind: to sell Chinese steamed buns, the Tencent news reported.
Zhou, who graduated from Boston University in 2008, has gained massive attention in the cooking industry in recent years. She became an internet sensation after her exploits were detailed in a video about international Labor Day. The video explained how she moved from Hong Kong to Canada, worked ordinary jobs, and eventually opened her own restaurant called “Little Bao” where her culinary skills earned her some well-known accolades.
According to the Tencent news, Zhou was also named 2017’s “Best Female Chef” in the 50 Best Restaurants in Asia. Zhou likened the award to winning the “Oscar” to chefs.
“Little Bao” opened in 2014 and is located in the SOHO area of Central District, Hong Kong. The area contains many specialized restaurants, mainly focusing on providing exotic food for locals and tourists.
The name “Little Bao” represents the uniqueness of the featured product, which are Chinese burgers that use a variety of different ingredients held together with Chinese steamed bread.
Her restaurant offers items such as the fried chicken bun with fried chicken breast in pepper vinegar sauce, the flank bun with Cantonese-style stewed pork flank, and even a fried steam bun filled with ice cream.
Zhou gets her food ideas from Hong Kong street culture, where she scours the area for ways to make new creations by using ingredients like fresh seafood or even rare Hong Kong handmade oyster sauce.
Zhou said her fresh take on cuisine might come from her mother, who used to cook by mixing Shanghai- and Cantonese-style foods. Zhou said in her heart, her mother cooked the first generation of “fusion foods.”
Zhou said her inspiration to become a chef came from a combination of her mother’s cooking and through her enjoyment of the show “You Can Cook.”
However, Zhou’s parents did not support her enthusiasm for cooking, and she mentioned that her father said several “cruel” words to her on the matter. Yet, she did not give up and pushed forward with her career aspirations.
While in college, Zhou chose hotel management as a major because she thought it was the closest she could come to majoring in the culinary arts. After she returned to Hong Kong, she studied various cooking techniques wherever she could.
Her quest to become a chef led her on an assortment of odd jobs, including working in the only three-star Michelin rated restaurant in Hong Kong and selling Taiwan snacks on a roadside stall. Zhou said these experiences were a source of creativity that led to the creation of her own restaurant.
After winning the “Best Female Chef” award, Zhou said she has begun to realize the impact she has on others. She said she hopes her story can inspire more female chefs to break the mold of gender inequality in the food industry.
“Before, I worked to prove myself, but now, I want to work to inspire those unrecognized female chefs that their talent is worth their efforts,” Zhou said.