How long have you been a noodle making chef?
I have been a chef for 16 years, having picked up culinary skills as an apprentice in a government hotel in China. As for noodle making, I have been doing it for about seven years.
Why have you chosen this profession?
When I graduated from college, I was unable to enter university and had to find some other means of survival. It was a hot trend then for men to be chefs or noodle makers, as it was practical and could ensure a job.
What’s the secret to making great noodles by hand?
Mostly experience, because the secret of Szechuan food is attaining particular taste for a dish despite differences or changes in ingredients.
What are the different kinds of noodles you can make by hand?
There are more than 10 kinds.
Explain how good noodles taste better than low quality ones.
They run smoothly down your throat, and make you want to eat some more. Handmade noodles have been kneaded by hand repeatedly and the dough is even. The noodles are shinier, and the taste and the texture less dull.
What is your record speed for making noodles?
For dao xiao mian, I can slice enough noodles for three bowls in one minute.
What do you really do—stand at the table and make noodles the whole day?
I have my delegated tasks and duties besides making noodles. I also make bean curd, mooncakes, dian xin or even experiment with something new for the menu. In general, I bake and cook non-stop.
Fingers, wrists, palms or forearms, which tire most?
I find it most tiring for my waist, upper back and shoulders.
Ever thought of inventing your own noodle creation?
I will, if I have the chance to!
Rice and noodles—which do you prefer?
I think about noodles first, because it is part of my job.
Do you have a need to occupy your hands all the time?
I rest my hands if I am tired, especially as my fingers and wrists are injury prone areas given my profession. I have to take care of them.
What else are you good at?
I guess I have good eyesight, given that I have to make elaborately shaped sweets sometimes. Maybe wei qi too.
What can one do with noodles besides eating them?
The noodles I make are for my customers to eat, and not for anything else!