Monday, April 8, 2013

Getting to know - Yang of the Beijing Opera dim sum pop up

I am looking forward to having a dim sum meal at the Beijing Opera pop up this week. I thought I'd share a little bit on who the lady behind Beijing Opera is and how it came to be. Introducing Yang Zhao
Courtesy: Food Jams taken by Irene Kim
1.Tell us about your journey to opening the Beijing Opera
I have always liked feeding people, and one day I decided to quit the day job and travelled for a few months, while traveling, I thought to myself, I need to find something to do that is on my own terms! So I can afford more time in the future to travel more. So I joined my friend's day Market in Cape Town, called You, me & Everyone we know Market at the Labia on Orange Street. Our Potstickers got loads of love from people, and I was encouraged to feed more people, especially by the owner of the Market, Adel Snyders and Foodjam's Jade De Waal, who had both later became great friends of mine.

2. Why the pop up concept?
My pop ups started when a place I wanted, to open as a permanent Dim Sum Bar, fell through. I had caught the momentum, and was too excited to let it go. I had to keep going. 
Luckily, at that time, I was asked to curate a food Market for the Spier secret Festival in October last year, as a part of the promo events, Hannerie Visser, of President Design and Toffie events offered me the great opportunity to host a series of pop up dinner at their gift shop. Beijing Opera grew into the pop up/mobile life pretty organically. Now we're at Side Street Studio, 48 Albert Road regularly. 

3. What is your vision for the Beijing Opera?
To become a place for someone to slow down their day, enjoy a cup of tea or a glass wine, listen to music and chill out. 

4. What has been your biggest success and what has been your greatest learning or challenge?
To me the biggest success has been a personal journey, I feel incredible when I get to feed people. To see people's happy faces and to know that there aren't much more to life than to be with good people, eat, talk, laugh and share ideas, that has been the greatest success I feel. 
The greatest challenge has been learning patience, Dim Sum is a part of a very refined and sophisticated dining culture. The greater the effort you put in preparing it, the better it will look and taste. In a sense that, you have to pay much attention to detail. For me, it's a lesson in life, and I'm still learning. 

5. What's the Bejing Opera approach to food: sourcing produce, cooking and eating?
We try our best to source organic veggies and free range when it comes to meat products. 
I believe that while appreciating the privileges that are given to us to be able to consume and enjoy good foods, we have to sustain a culture of thrifty cooking. To not waste food, to be conscious of where our foods come from; it is not a cosmetic concept, but directly concerns our wellness and health. Good food is good health care, there's loads of room for us to build on a solid knowledge base on food. The better we know, the better we'll eat. 

6. What items are a must for you on a Yum Cha menu?
I love some congee to start with; then the "pearl chicken" rice dumplings wrapped in lotus leaves, I also love cheung fan in bits and pieces of barbecue pork…I always want to have everything when I go Yam Cha with family, but never get pass 3 or 4 small baskets of food before getting really stuffed. 

7. What is your favourite eatery?
I've always loved Royale Burgers, Sidewalk Cafe, Woodlands Eatery and most recently, Durban's Finest Curry in Cape Town.

8. What is on your foodie must eat before I die bucket list?
Wow, mm there're too many…I love seafood, there're loads of seafood dishes that I'd like to eat more than once before I die..I'd probably end up living in Mozambique lol

9. If you had to pick one meal to eat for the rest of your life what would it be?
I have no idea…I don't think I can manage that at all.

10. Describe yourself in a dish
A Chippies Prego samie. Go have one and call me :) 

Now I just have to go to chippies!

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