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Pastry chefs master the art of innovation

By LI YINGXUE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-01-30 09:26
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Chef Chen Xiaodong [Photo provided to China Daily]

Young inheritor

One of Wu's students, Chen Xiaodong, 23, from Shunde, Guangdong province, grew up in a lion dancing culture.

Chen, who has studied Chinese pastry since 2018, wants to make an item such as the lion's head, but he doesn't know how to master this art. "It's difficult. If you make a tiny mistake in any of the steps, you will fail," he said.

"I learned from social media that Wu Yang had made puff pastry shaped like a lion's head, and I was thrilled to be one of those attempting to create new pastry works that combine Chinese culture."

Chen contacted Wu to learn the secrets of making such a piece. "Even though we've never met, when we discuss the skills of making puff pastry, we talk for ages," Chen said.

To perfect his lion's head, Chen visited a local lion dance inheritor to learn about this culture. According to Chen, his own version of the lion looks rather fierce, while Wu's rendering is cute.

"Wu and I are thinking about making a lion that opens its mouth wider. The angle at which the lion's head is placed into the oil needs adjusting to give it the shape we want after it is deep fried," Chen said.

After studying Chinese pastry at Shunde Polytechnic in Foshan, Guangdong, from 2018 to 2020, Chen continued to learn this traditional skill at the Shunde campus of Hanshan Normal University. He graduated from the university last year.

To pay his tuition fees, he did three part-time jobs each day — selling steamed buns and porridge in the morning, egg puffs in the afternoon, and barbecue food at night.

At university, Chen improved his cooking skills and took part in numerous cookery competitions. "I want to present my pastry works and ideas," he said.

Although still young, he has already taught the art of making Chinese pastry.

"Just like myself four years ago, my students are looking forward to becoming pastry chefs," he said.

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