Being a chef in China has long been viewed as a mostly male affair, given the physically taxing nature of tending to kitchen action. (Photo : Getty Images)
China joins the rest of the world in celebrating International Women's Day, an event highlighting the brilliance of women as they work to prove their capabilities in an otherwise patriarchic milieu. Retired chef Hu Limei, who belongs to China's first wave of professional chefs, stands out as a notable example.
In a country where sexism remains rampant, Hu stands out as a rare gem of women empowerment among the Chinese. Her skills in the kitchen, as well as her desire to become ahead of her male counterparts, earned her the adulation of all the men who worked with her.
Hu spent a significant part of her professional career as the executive chef of Park Hotel, Shanghai's oldest hotel, since the 1980s. Her stint saw her serve some of China's most notable personalities, including former political leaders Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, China Daily reported.
Despite being retired, Hu remains enthusiastic in sharing her knowledge in imperial Beijing cuisine, which she specializes in despite having worked in Shanghai for a good part of her life. The 76-year-old recently featured as a guest chef for the "China Master Chef Banquet" held at Hilton Beijing Wangfujing.
Hu's dedication to her craft boils down to her sheer passion for culinary arts, and she personally took being a woman as a motivation to become better than her male contemporaries. She underlined that women are typically shunned in favor of men in the kitchen, citing the latter's lesser distractions.
But Hu herself proved that thinking wrong; she managed to hold on to her grit to become a successful chef despite tending to her own big family. She was so determined to succeed, that she even went to the extent of learning Shandong dialect to best communicate with her Shandong master.
With nothing else than a thoroughly-emptied plate of her food to make her happy, Hu takes pride in being a woman by highlighting her penchant for paying greater attention to detail, as well as her willingness to work for longer hours towards achieving perfection.