Cooking on the go: the train chef | Through The Lens

People’s Daily

If you want to find one job that is “endangered” in China as society develops rapidly, the train chef is one. Traditionally well-respected and highly skilled, the occupation is becoming less and less attractive to chefs nowadays.

Meng Haiping is one of those “endangered” train chiefs, cooking on the Beijing-Chengdu train. In his words, he “dedicates his time to thousands of railway passengers every day.”

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Because of his superb performance, Meng Haiping became the train’s head chef just 2 months after he joined the team.
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For each 22-hour journey, Meng has to cook hundreds of  passengers’ orders.
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It is the chef’s duty to check every detail is correct before the train departs.
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As the train’s chef, Meng Haiping also needs to write a daily report, managing finances, schedule, manage the sanitary situation and maintain kitchen safety.
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Meng specialises in Sichuan flavor food, as he is a Sichuan native himself. He loves to listen to passengers’ feedback and try to fulfill their requests as much as possible.
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High-speed railway is developing at break-neck speed in China, dramatically cutting journey times. As a result, understandably, people nowadays are no longer keen on ordering food on the train as there is a ready supply of pre-made and fast food available.

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“Railway trips nowadays are shorter than they were before,” said Meng, “I probably wouldn’t order food if I were a passenger since I only take the high-speed train for 3 hours or so.” Nevertheless, Meng still loves his job, even if “the business is shrinking”.

Cooking Chinese food on moving trains is, in his words, “the coolest job in the world!”

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