Although business today is not what it was, many families are still passing on the skills and bando tradition to the younger generation. Xue Minghui, a second-generation chef, inherited his cooking skills from his father. He says that after receiving an order, the bando chef has to discuss the menu and serving order with their customers and then organize and prepare everything for the banquet within a month. With success depending exclusively on word of mouth, "Even just a simple error could ruin the firm's reputation," says Xue.
Bando chefs also need to be aware of and strictly follow traditional culinary procedures. For example, the first dish at a banquet celebrating a move into a new house must be chicken, symbolizing the establishment of the new home. For a funeral, however, the chicken dish indicates that what is past is past. The mourners should reestablish their home and restart their lives without their loved one. Abiding by bando rituals ensures that the host and their guests go home happy. Xue Minghui has experienced times when things did not go according to plan. Once, at the beginning of his career, he served an undercooked dish, making the host very unhappy.
The hardest part is time management. Xue notes that with an average preparation time of six to seven hours for a large banquet, workers have to start at around 5:00 AM to get everything ready for midday. Unexpected disasters with such a deadline can occasionally create a nightmare for the chef. "Physicians hate trying to cure a cough, plumbers dislike locating leaks, and bando chefs fear cooking for a midday banquet," says Xue.