With San Francisco’s China Live food centre, which opens this winter, restaurateur George Chen is on a mission to change how Americans see Chinese food.
On a warm day in April, restaurateur George Chen walks through the world’s largest Chinatown, running 24 blocks in downtown San Francisco, and makes a declaration: “I’m here to liberate Chinese food!” For too long, he states, the cuisine of his birthplace has had a bad rap abroad. “In China, the food is all about freshness of ingredients and local production, and is simple, and complicated. Here, Chinese food means a bright take-out joint on Main Street serving mystery meat in an orange or brown sauce. That’s not what we eat back in China.”
So years ago, this Shanghai-born, California-based chef made the decision to right the wrong. He would emancipate US-born Chinese food from the shackles of its infamous white take-out box and sticky sauce, and elevate it to a level worthy of the motherland, changing the USA’s peception of the cuisine along the way. And so since 2007, Chen, who counts more than 15 restaurant titles under his belt, has been working on his biggest venture yet: China Live, a 2,800m2 multi-level mecca of Chinese gastronomy stocked with gourmet markets, restaurants, cocktail bars and more. When it launches late this year in Chinatown, it will be the only project of its type in the Bay Area and the largest Sino-centric food emporium in the nation. – Norwegian Air Magazine (09.14.15)