太太's 

Bamboo Network

 

 

 

Our Audience
The Case for a Focussed Approach to
Marketing to Chinese of the World
 
  Millions (000,000) Percent of
Asia 50.3 91.3
Americas 3.4 6.3
Europe 0.6 1.1
Africa 0.1 0.2
Oceania 0.6 1.1
Sub Total 55.01 Outside Asia
 
Total Chinese
in the World: 1,055,000,000

 

 


Hong Kong's Queen of Cakes

Maria Lee: Hong Kong's daytime diva of good taste

With a regal sweep of her arm, Hong Kong's celebrity of gastronomy, Maria Lee Tseng Chiu-kwan, ushers her 14 North American lunch guests into her surprisingly understated dining room.

These are modest digs for someone who, at her pinnacle, ruled over an empire of cake shops that stretched across the Pacific from Taipei to San Francisco.

Called The Queen of Cakes, 73-year-old Maria Lee is so well known and beloved in Hong Kong that taxi drivers transport her for free, auto mechanics have refused to charge her and hundreds of Hong Kong residents seek her advice not only on cooking, but on everything from romance and child-rearing to home decoration and fashion.

When the Asian economy went bust, Ms. Lee's chain of cake shops collapsed. Pausing for only a heartbeat, the former cooking-show host, Chinese opera singer and entrepreneur mastered the computer and transformed herself into a dot-com doyenne. Her Web site, which she maintains herself, offers recipes, celebrity interviews and, most wonderfully for food lovers visiting Hong Kong, an opportunity to join her for a home-cooked meal at her apartment in the posh Jardine's Lookout section of Hong Kong.

Her e-invitation has become such a hit that more than 4,000 people, including politicians, movie stars and diplomats, have taken her up on it in less than a year. The Queen of Cakes is a tall woman, with black hair, red lipstick and meticulously drawn eyebrows so animated they command the attention of the guests she is seating at her big round dining room table. She seems so pleased to have guests, she almost hops with excitement. "I hope you enjoy my food today. You just call me Maria."

Doctor Lee -- she has received the honourary title several times over, fills a room with swift, large movements reminiscent of another cooking legend, Julia Child. Ms. Lee giggles at such comparisons with the divas of North American daytime television such as Child, Oprah Winfrey or Martha Stewart.

"Ree-eally?" she stretches the word out just long enough to see she is considering the comparison and, after three seconds of thinking about it, agrees.

Her dining room is crammed with photos of herself with New York governor Mario Cuomo, Asian gazillionaire Li Ka-shing, the Duchess of Kent, the Reagans and 20 or so other "big shots" as she calls them.

At this lunch, guests, all older, well-heeled Americans, are treated to bits of yam, pork rib marinated with curry in a bamboo basket, exotic soup of white fungus and chicken, crispy duck with taro. Each course comes in a colourful dish in the shape of the animal being eaten.

Ms. Lee works the room like a veteran Las Vegas entertainer. "I hope you will like my lunch. If you don't, let me know." Who wouldn't like one of these six-course lunches or 12-course dinners, especially when Ms. Lee is there, hovering and chirping over absolute strangers as if they are her best friends. She admits she is happiest with a houseful of people, but never expected her little late-life hobby to turn into one of the trendiest things to do in Hong Kong.

Although this very public persona claims she never got into this for the money, she realizes her runaway success could be profitable. So now, in addition to the gourmet Chinese banquets and MSG-free lunches, she is offering culinary tours to her country house in Guandong in China. There she will ply guests with gourmet meals, cooking classes and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to sit on her patio overlooking the lake and sing karaoke until the sun comes up.   - by Judith Ritter    National Post    

 

 

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