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Crafting Memorable Tastes, Experiences Beyond the Plate | Realpreneur Tales

By Dai Yuan|Apr 16,2024

Chongqing - In the dynamic food scene of Chongqing's Liangjiang New Area, Chef Yang Huangyi shines as a culinary innovation and creativity pioneer. As the chef and founder of Sweet As Food Lab, he embodies the idea that dining is more than just flavor but an unforgettable, immersive experience.

A poster when Yang Huangyi takes part in a Chinese gourmet show. (Photo/Yang Huangyi)

Yang's passion for cooking began early, sparked by his childhood love for fine food. Even in third grade, he enjoyed preparing intricate meals for family and friends.

Although he graduated from medical college, he felt no passion for a future in medicine. The allure of the culinary world proved too strong to resist, leading him to pursue a transformative path in the kitchen.

Since then, Yang sought formal education at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute in New Zealand. There, he dedicated two years to studying and spent an additional three years gaining practical experience in various culinary settings, including at Huka Lodge, New Zealand's oldest and most prestigious luxury lodge.

 "I feel like a sponge, as I am a green hand in this sector. Thus, I chose to work in different environments to experience their diversity in cooking," said Yang.

Like many chefs who aspire to open their own establishments, Yang and his wife, who shares his culinary passion, returned to his hometown of Chongqing. There, they established their own restaurant, Sweet As Food Lab.

"Reverse menu"

Yang saw Sweet As Food Lab as more than just a restaurant; he viewed it as a culinary laboratory.

He carefully designs each menu around a thematic concept, updating it quarterly to showcase his innovative approach. Every detail, from the dishes to the ambiance, is thoughtfully arranged to create a memorable experience for diners.

 "I insist that great taste should linger in memory, not just on the tongue. I hope my guests remember not only the food but the entire experience, creating lasting impressions," said Yang.

Yang Huangyi was invited to prepare a vegetarian dinner for the Vogue Film Ceremony in Shanghai. (Photo/Yang Huangyi)

The "reverse menu" exemplifies his creativity, where guests see Western dish names but taste their Chinese equivalents, blending the familiar with the innovative in a delightful fusion. 

Yang's dishes effortlessly cross cultural boundaries by drawing on Chinese culinary traditions and incorporating global influences.

Yang is committed to offering unique menus at his restaurant to reflect his dedication to continual innovation. He explained, "If you do not change, you will settle into a comfort zone. Although this can lead to periods of stagnation, we must keep updating ourselves to avoid further bottlenecks."

Motivated by a desire to share his culinary approach and gain feedback, Yang accepted an invitation to compete on the prestigious Chinese cooking show "The Honorable Chef."

 "As for me, I can learn from other experienced chefs and the younger chefs who often conceive innovative ideas. I will also share my ideas with others to spark new thinking," said Yang. His exceptional performance earned him an annual championship.

For Yang, from the dishes to the ambiance, every element should be carefully crafted. (Photo/Yang Huangyi)

While appearing on the show, Yang faced the challenge of preparing a vegetarian dinner for the Vogue Film Ceremony in Shanghai, a daunting task since he was unfamiliar with vegetarian cuisine. 

Despite this, Yang's thorough preparation and solid grasp of vegetarian principles allowed him to perform his duties impeccably, even under the complexities of serving outdoors.

For Yang, sincerity is fundamental in cooking, involving a deep responsibility towards food and a commitment to being honest with every diner. Even as he takes on various roles as a chef, catering consultant, and planner, Yang's dedication to his craft remains unwavering.

"My final purpose for everything I have done is to bring better food to the diners in my lifetime," said Yang. He stays firm in his initial conviction, driven by relentless determination.

Yang Huangyi updates his menu every three months to keep up with innovation. (Photo/Yang Huangyi)


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