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Restaurant chain serves special dish for success

Chef Fei a hit not only among Hunan residents, but also diners all over the country

By ZOU SHUO in Changsha | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-28 09:46

A chef slices pork in the kitchen of a Chef Fei chain restaurant in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in December. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Stir-fried pork with fresh chili peppers is one of the most well-known dishes commonly seen in Hunan province.

The taste of this delectable dish, which has both the spicy flavor of chili peppers and the succulent tenderness of pork, is unique to each family even if they use exactly the same ingredients.

Local people in Hunan, in fact, say that the best stir-fried pork with chili is the one made by their mothers.

The dish dates back to more than 2,000 years as depicted in the Songs of Chu, an anthology of ancient Chinese poetry, which records that Hunan people ate chilies to warm the body.

The dish is also what has made Chef Fei one of the most popular Hunan restaurant chains nationwide.

Chef Fei sold more than 5 million servings of chili stir-fried pork last year, with total sales revenue exceeding 1 billion yuan ($138 million), according to the company.

Founded in 2003 in Hengyang, Hunan, Chef Fei has expanded to over 100 branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen in Guangdong province, Suzhou, Jiangsu province, as well as in Hunan itself.

Its signature dish, fried pork with chili, has become a hit not only among Hunan residents, but customers all over the country.

In 2018, the first Chef Fei restaurant outside Hunan opened in Shenzhen, which is jokingly referred to as the provincial capital of Hunan province because of the large number of Hunan natives working in the city due to its geological proximity.

The restaurant chain expanded to Shanghai in 2021, Beijing in 2022 and Guangzhou last year. The average wait time at its restaurants in Beijing exceeds two hours.

When the brand opened its first outlet in Guangzhou last year, there were long lines to get in from 10 am to 10 pm, according to Lu Wenwei, the PR manager at Chef Fei.

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