Feature: Ghanaian youth turns passion for Chinese pastries into culinary career
by Xu Zheng
ACCRA, July 12 (Xinhua) -- "Tang You Gao," or "fried brown sugar cake," a traditional pastry that originated in northwestern China's Gansu Province, is now a popular delicacy in Ghana, a West African country tens of thousands of kilometers away.
Locals are so tempted by the Chinese pastry, which is crusty outside, soft and airy inside, that they sometimes have to spend more than an hour driving through congested traffic to a Chinese restaurant in downtown Accra, the capital of Ghana, just to have a taste of the freshly-fried bun.
Henyo Nestor, a Ghanaian pastry chef at the restaurant affiliated with China's Gansu International Economic and Technical Cooperation Co., Ltd., is given much of the credit for the big customer flow.
Starting as a rookie nearly six years ago, the 25-year-old has now grown into one of the pillars of the Chinese restaurant.
"Six years ago, when I entered the restaurant, I didn't know anything about Chinese food and pastries. When I thought of Chinese, it was all about their movies and dresses, but here I gradually realized that Chinese cuisine is also going international," said Nestor, who described his years at the Chinese eatery as an eye-opening learning experience.
Nestor has been attentively following his Chinese master Chen Guanghong, a veteran chef, on how to prepare a variety of Chinese pastries, from steamed buns to Chinese dumplings.
Chen, who has worked in the restaurant for 13 years, not only imparted the knowledge of pasty-making to Nestor but also taught him how to write Chinese characters and decorate dishes, which he believes would be a boost to the young pastry chef's career.
"By the guidance of the Chinese master, I was able to learn a lot. We have very good recipes to make the Chinese pastries really good. I got a lot of feedback from both Chinese and Ghanaian diners in a positive way," Nestor said. "I wish everyone in town to come and try them."
Nestor told Xinhua that the learning experience under Chen has kindled his passion for Chinese pastries and bolstered his determination to pursue a culinary career.
"I wish to take my pastry-making to the next level, probably by going to China or anywhere (that) can help improve my skills," Nestor added.
According to Chen, Chinese cuisine, including different kinds of pastries, has enjoyed rising popularity among Africans as China-Africa cooperation flourishes, prompting many African youngsters to pursue a career as a chef of Chinese cuisine.
"Over (the) years, we have cultivated many African cooks in the restaurant, some are Ghanaians, some are from other African countries, and we are happy to see that many of them have landed lucrative jobs in big restaurants or five-star hotels," Chen added.
"For me, they are not only chefs but also the ambassadors of Chinese cuisine culture," Chen said.
For Nestor, his ambition is even bigger. "I wish to open my own restaurant here specializing in Chinese pastries and hope more people will come to enjoy the Chinese food."Enditem