Like a lucky Dream
Jochen Kern

China / Beijing 1987 - 1989




After two years in Bali it was time to move.

The Hyatt Management wanted to transfer me to Canberra, Australia. I refused as the salary was so disappointing. If I had taken up their offer, I will have to bring all my savings to keep up my standard of living. Having worked seven years for the Hyatt, I expected them to respect me by paying a decent salary. So as to live in a standard which I am accustomed to. For all my loyalty and effort, it is the only right thing to do.

A lousy head office?

I believe Mr. Chorengel had no idea about this lousy personal politics which some of his top people were playing. Nevertheless, even today and I guess until my death, I will always be very much in favour of the Hyatt hotel chain.

I think it is a super chain... but don’t tell anybody please! I have believed in Hyatt since I met Mr. Tulio, the Father of Hyatt International. I got Married in Hyatt, once to my wife, and once to my
F & B Manager (Bangkok meeting). In this chain, we were a team, we were the world and we were proud to be one of Heat’s. Heat was my teacher, my mentor and I will always respect it till my last breath.

About this time, I met a few chefs from China who were visiting Bali. They talked about China, the hardship and the problems they faced in this communist country.

My interest grew. The mountains of problems which they talked about seemed more of a challenge to me. Solving them will give me a lot of satisfaction. I still had to survive and wanted to see new places. The money offered in China was definitely better than the Heat. I still have to consider my future.

at the Ming Tomb

I decided to change company. I joined Holiday inn, Lid in Beijing, China (thanks to Gerhard Heker). To lead, and teach, one of the largest kitchen brigades in Asia, with 220 cooks and 100 kitchen stewards, was always my dream. There was always the wish, to prove myself as al deader and power. The little man’s dream. What an assignment.

I had a nice General Manager, Mr, Riegger and good friends like Brian, Paolo, Peter and Jimmy. It was fantastic there. Different people, different language, a great working target and a lot of space to live and have fun in.

Beijing fun time left Cordon Noir foundation with Dieter & Peter and right with Romano Venuti at the Great Wall, with Alfred Richter at the Ming Tombs

We had good business since the opening of this largest Holiday Inn Property with over thousand rooms, besides an additional 360 apartments, an international school with 400 student meals daily, sports club and 10 food outlets including the German restaurant "Die Bauernstube" which is also china’s first German restaurant.

The market surveys were outstanding. In China, a man’s personality depended heavily on his drinking skill. During a market survey, even the top men of the village were drunk under the table. The local hot wine which has a very strong smell and high alcohol content gives you a body for days.

It was memorable. The times shared with my lovely secretary, Shang Lien, the cooks, Herman and Sun and the Deputy F & B Manager Suchey, will stay in my brain like living monuments of China.

Shang Lien / catering at the old Great Wall and VVIP with Tony and Mr. Mitsubishi from Tokyo

The global idea of a Chinese - they are good examples of human beings who are able to establish and keep their fantastic personalities in a different but accepted system. The people are nice, friendly, open minded - if they know you - and critical, but clear.

Not only money but humanity as well, that leads the world. This is not often the way of the human race. The country is so beautiful and really worth seeing despite the transport and communication problems. In a big country like this there are problems always, but also specials.

The governments’ hygiene assurance for Sino hotel to any tourist or visitor to China is of an unbelievably high standard. Our hotel achieved the highest award for hygiene and we were very proud to be chosen over others as the best from the 1,900 Holiday Inn hotels worldwide. It was a fantastic feeling to be a leader!

Christmas with Betty and Regina in our Room / pastry training for children / the first real Swiss cheese at the Patio coffee house

I have listened a lot to other chefs who had been in this highly populated country of 1.2 billion and I tell you, my two years in China were outstanding. I would not like to erase from my memory, a minute of my time spent there.

The exciting trip to Herbin with tons of caviar. Dalian with its seafood, Guangchow with its unbelievable markets selling barbeque dogs, snakes, cats and all kinds of animals. Tanjing had antique markets while Xian had terra-cotta soldiers. Shenzhen had huge amounts of new and "under process" buildings. And then there was Beijing, offering the splendor of the past - The Forbidden City or Ming Tombs, the Great Wall and many more historical sites.

Chef Sun you still know that Holyday Inn manager meeting with gold like here the mobile coffee break
we got that best, No 1 Holiday Inn award in the world for that.

There is so much to tell that I could write a book on China itself from a two year visit. There is, however, one thing I would like to share with you; my visit to a Beijing duck factory.

This Duck plant is in the outskirts of Beijing and it is a three hour drive from the city by car.
You could never miss the plant. Simply follow the bicycles with the white live ducks, sitting on the back.When you arrive at the plant, you will see thousands of ducks and hundreds of bicycles. Firstly, each duck is weighed on a scale, one after the other. Then they are sent for a health inspection. Secondly, the ducks are hanged upside down with one webbed foot attached to a wire sling on a beam, the head secured by a nail through a nosehole onto a second beam, down.
In this way, the butcher is not destroying the skin as he only has to cut the bloodline inside the mouth through the open beak. This method is very effective as the duck is dead in a few seconds.
The next step is de-feathering which is done manually and in a precise manner. The smaller fawn feathers are removed, one by one with tweezers. When the duck is completed defeathered, a needle is inserted under the skin and with the help of a compressor, the entire skin is loosened.

This is then brushed with a coat of syrup and left to dry overnight. The next day, they end up in an Apollo oven (named after the shape) for roasting. This plant produces 9,000 ducks daily. Beijing has seven plants whose production totals to 63,000 ducks daily supplying the city’s population of 10,000,000. Unbelievable.

We went on a R & R holiday to Fiji and stayed with Fredy, an old friend whom I have known from Bali since 1973. Fredy had changed his profession from an executive chef to a diving instructor. Another great profession besides being a cook, nearly as interesting and adventurous. Fredy showed me the underwater world of Fiji and for the first time, I saw real paradise. Absolutely magical.

Fiji became my dream. After finishing my contract in Beijing, I decided that Fiji would be my next place of work. Sorry, Mr.Rigger. I know we worked two great years together, founded our Cordon Noir Club, opened 5 restaurants and made a good profit for the hotel.

But paradise is paradise and magic is a dream. For what else did we leave our homeland?


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