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Traditional Chinese restaurants take root in Chicago | Updated: 2012-03-14 10:40

Promoting Chinese cuisine

Hu's business has prospered and expanded rapidly, attracting the attention of U.S. media. The publicity in turn further promoted Hu's business and helped his restaurants attract more customers.

In the first year when Hu arrived in Chicago, he taught how to cook Chinese food on a weekly TV program on Channel 13 in Chicago. In just two years, he was feted like a star on Chicago's Chinese food scene. The program help the local public gain a better understanding of Chinese cuisine, while his rising fame helped prepare him to start his own business. He also attended the annual event "Taste of Chicago" to promote Chinese cuisine. Lao Sze Chuan even became a Michelin star restaurant.

Hu also attended various social activities in addition to running his own business. He taught the homeless in Chicago how to cook Chinese food and gave lectures in Chicago's City Hall and Northwestern University.

Suprisingly, Hu has also become a political activist. When Richard Michael Daley, former mayor of Chicago, visited China in 2011, Hu was a member of his delegation. When Rahm Emanuel was running for mayor of Chicago, he went to Chinatown to meet Hu so as to win votes from the Chinese community. Hu said that the overseas Chinese should attend various social and political activities so that they could become better integrated in mainstream American society.

Regarding the future of Chinese cuisine, he said that Chinese restaurants have entered a new phase in overseas markets. What started out as family businesses have often evolved into high-quality and efficiently-run businesses. Encouraged by this growing popularity of Chinese cuisine in the United States, Hu said he now plans to open a higher-end Chinese restaurant in downtown Chicago.

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