Superstar chef Mario Batali and his ponytail have made the move to Asia, but of course, doing business over there isn’t anything like what it’s like back in America.
Businesspeople are constantly hearing about the differences in corporate culture between East and West, but it’s not all about interactions in the office.
For a restaurant, there are plenty of other things that need to be considered, like the hot line and the local eating habits.
In a section of a lengthy, two-part interview with Eater, Batali described his experience expanding into Asian markets like Hong Kong. Here’s what he had to say:
“Yeah, it’s weird! I’ll tell you how it’s weird: there are eight guys working the hot line at Lupa there, and there isn’t a common mother tongue among them. Half the guys are speaking Chinese and half the guys are speaking Malaysian. Not all of them are from those places, but that’s where they all agree to go when they’re expediting. And then sometimes it’s English.
It’s a crazy group of talented staff and cooks, and then a super-hot market of consumers that are fascinated because they come from the mainland. They go to Hong Kong kind of like Americans go to Vegas. They are endlessly hungry. Have you been to Hong Kong? Have you seen how they stand outside of Louis Vuitton in line like it’s a discotheque? It’s mind-blowing! They’ll go in there and buy three of those $40,000 cases.”
Well, Batali better learn to cope with that weirdness quickly. He’s planning to expand his empire in Hong Kong and then try to conquer mainland China.
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