A Sketch of Neimen: Town of Chefs(b)|『追寻总铺师之乡——内门』


  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.

 

追寻总铺师之乡——内门


  如今内门的办桌盛况虽不如以往,但仍有不少办桌世家将手艺和办桌的传统传给了年轻一代。薛明辉是承袭他父亲手艺的第二代总铺师。他表示,接到订单之后,总铺师必须要在一个月内和顾客讨论好菜单及出菜顺序,接着就要规划及准备所有宴席所需的事项。由于办桌生意全靠口耳相传,薛明辉说:『即使只是出了一个小小的差错,也可能会让公司的名声毁于一旦。』


  总铺师也必须了解并严格遵守传统的作菜程序。举例来说,在庆祝搬新家的宴席上,第一道料理一定要是鸡,这象征新居落成的意思。然而,在丧礼上,鸡指的则是过去的就让它过去了。悲伤的亲友们即使失去了挚爱的亲人,也应该要重新建立自己的家,并重新展开新的人生。遵守办桌的礼俗可以确保宾主尽欢。薛明辉也曾经历过事情未按照计划发展的时期。他在刚入行时曾因端上桌的料理没煮熟而惹得主人很不开心。


  办桌最难的部份就是时间的控制。薛明辉提到,一场大型的宴席平均要花上六到七个小时来准备,为了要让中午的宴席能够准时开桌,工作人员大约凌晨五点就得开始准备。各种无法预期的突发状况以及如此紧迫的时间,有时会让办桌成了总铺师的恶梦。薛明辉说:『医生怕治嗽(医生最怕遇到来看咳嗽的病人),土水怕抓漏(水电工人最怕检测漏水),办桌怕吃午(办桌的厨师最怕要办中午的宴席)。』

 

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A Sketch of Neimen: Town of Chefs(b)|『追寻总铺师之乡——内门』