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An evening by the fireside

By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-29 07:23
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The chefs at Fireside also hail from different places, fusing together Eastern and Western cooking methods. As a cofounder, Li Yao leads a team of nearly 30 chefs in the kitchen.

Li has been practicing cooking since he studied in Ukraine in 2004. He did part-time job at a Japanese restaurant and got his bachelor's and master's degrees of economics at the same time, before following his passion and becoming a full-time chef.

"Our food cannot be defined because it's about innovation and creating art on the plate," says Li. "For example, we use squid ink to produce Chinese painting styles on the plate, which not only looks amazing, but also adds freshness to our beef dish."

Li has built a 180-square-meter kitchen in the two-floor restaurant and it's filled with both Chinese and Western kitchenware. The chefs at Fireside have used the kitchen as their stage to perform culinary magic, or in some cases as a laboratory bench for experimenting with ingredients.

"I encourage them to create new dishes together," says Li. "We have a Chinese saying that 'three cobblers are cleverer than Zhuge Liang,' which is similar to the Western idiom 'two heads are better than one.' Well, we have two dozen chefs here."

Li, who hails from Xinjiang, also gives his hometown's signature roasted mutton a modern twist. "You may think it's a Western dish because of the plating, but it's actually made using the traditional Xinjiang method-the mutton has to be marinated with egg white so that it is crispy on the outside, but still tender on the inside," Li says.

In Zheng's mind, the purpose of Fireside's kitchen is to tell the stories of the ingredients to the people in the capital.

"My hope is that people from different places or cultures gather here to enjoy the delicacies together," Zheng says.

If you go

11 am-2:30 pm; 4 pm-5 am. E132, first floor, Building E, No 9 Jinhui Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8599-9580.

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