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Foodie Entrepreneurship, Looking For The Legendary Food

Foodie entrepreneurship, looking for the legendary food

By Elora HaysPublished about a year ago 12 min read

Quit your high-paying city job, retire to Yamada, scour the countryside, and study the ingredients. With the desire to find healthy and delicious ingredients, Wen Han has been all over China. He has been to more than 30 counties and cities in Sichuan Province alone. Having made Hong Kong gourmet Mr. CAI LAN his lifelong idol, he is living a life that everyone can envy: food and travel, while also achieving his goal of starting a business.

Say goodbye to the bustling, looking for food

Before starting his own business, Zong Wenhan was a supervisor at a logistics company in Shenzhen, where he was on call 24 hours a day. He describes the situation in this story: "I was traveling in Yunnan province, the first time I rode a horse, riding on the back of a horse holding the REINS in both hands when the phone rang. It was an important client in Spain. I answered the phone while I was riding, and the horse started to run slowly by itself. I'm afraid of falling off the horse and I can't hang up the phone. It's an awkward situation, just like my life."

He didn't think it was the life he wanted. Struggling to get out of bed, wearing a designer shirt on sale to ride the bus, then clocking in, getting a glass of water, opening the mailbox, and answering the phone; To pull customers, call every day to one side of the ear pain; By the time I got off work at seven or eight o 'clock in the evening, I was too tired even to talk, so I had to eat in the roadside small restaurant, so I had eaten a lot of strange things on the dishes: stones, glass, hair, cigarette butts... To Wenhan, these are endless troubles. How can you work on your interests and live the life you love?

When hesitating, I saw Mr. CAI LAN's diet program and read his book again. Taking interest in work is the pursuit of CAI LAN's life, and hobbies can also develop into a career. CAI LAN once said: "try, the chance is 50%, don't try, the chance is zero." I agree with Wen Han very much. So he asked for a leave of three days, plus three years of unused annual leave, totaling 15 days and went to Yunnan for a walk.

At the foot of Jishu Mountain, he saw a peasant woman carrying a wicker basket selling pomegranates, which were grown in her yard. They were big and bulging, and their skins were bright blue and red. After the pomegranate is broken in half, the extremely strong smell of pomegranate rises, it is a "don't smell, will get into the brain smell." The smell of the pomegranate reminded him of his childhood: "At that time, the whole family could only buy one pomegranate, and my father had to give me half of it. I put pomegranate seeds in my mouth one by one, so sweet. After eating the pomegranate skin, he must shake his small nose and smell it again and again, and put it in his pocket for a day to play the role of perfume, until it is black and then discarded."

His decision to quit his job in search of reassuring ingredients had something to do with this experience. Wen Han said that what he was looking for was this kind of food grown by adhering to the ancient method, which could grow steadily and healthily without fertilizers and hormones. Good food, he believes, is important because when it stays on the tongue, it evokes nostalgia for pastoral times and gratitude for food at harvest time.

Make up your mind to put your dream into action. With the 100,000 yuan he had saved in recent years, he headed west into Sichuan.

A native of Pingliang, Gansu province, his only connection to Sichuan is that his girlfriend once studied at a university in Chengdu. He has been to Chengdu several times, and as a veteran foodie, his taste buds tell him that the ingredients here are abundant. His goal at that time was only one: to find the best, most authentic, and most reassuring ingredients, put them in the online store, and share them with the world's food lovers.

The scenery all the way, food all the way

However, in this industrial age, it is not easy to find the ideal ingredients.

In general, he will first go to the Internet to collect some information, to see what the best local ingredients, and specialties; Then go to the library and read local county records and documents to find the delicious food that has been handed down for hundreds or even thousands of years. What he wants to do is to see if the old local ingredients are still there, and if they are, he will compare them one by one to see which flavor is the best, and then bring the safe ingredients he can find back to his Taobao store to sell.

This method sounds feasible, but when it is done concretely, it is found that it will hit nails everywhere. First of all, he could not speak the Sichuan dialect, and at first, he could not communicate with the villagers in the countryside. At first, the villagers looked at him like a monster, because he had just come from Shenzhen and could not speak the Sichuan dialect, and the farmers in Sichuan basically could not understand Mandarin, so in the first half year, he went out while learning Sichuan dialect.

In the summer of 2012, to find authentic Tianchi lotus root powder, he went to Lezhi County, Ziyang City, but he was even frustrated before reaching his destination. Xing was in a hurry to get on the bus Tianchi lotus root flour production, was told by the driver, that he was going to the town in Le to have several names, and he just sat wrong. At noon, with the sun beating down, he waited by the roadside for more than two hours before taking another bus to his destination. When he got off the bus, he was stunned -- the local lotus root powder had been large-scale production, and the villagers had not made lotus root powder at home. But under, the Wenhan had to go home.

In the process of searching for food ingredients, the things recorded in the county annals or circulated on the Internet have been lost or stale for various reasons in the local area, or they have to go through a difficult process to get a small number of satisfactory food ingredients. But whenever there was news of an ingredient, no matter how hard it was, he kept looking.

The most unforgettable time was finding the delicious bamboo shoots of Wawu Mountain. It took him more than two hours to convince the villagers to take him up the mountain. A man thought he could keep up with the bamboo shoot farmers because of his physical strength, but he couldn't go any further before he reached the main production area of bamboo shoots. The MOUNTAIN ROAD IS VERY STEEP, UNLIKE THE ROAD OF CLIMBING AT ORDINARY TIMES, BECAUSE THE FOREST IS VERY DENSE, that BAMBOO SOMETIMES LIKE DRAG YOU, THE GROUND IS VERY WET SLIPPERY, THE STATION IS NOT STABLE, PROBABLY ENTER THE MOUNTAIN FOR FIVE HOURS OR SO, HIS A PAIR OF PROFESSIONAL MOUNTAINEERING shoes HAVE been discarded, THE sole IS DEGUMMED. Bamboo shoot farmers wear ordinary liberation shoes, although small and thin, leg muscles are not very developed, but walk like antelope, very light. They had planned to go to higher altitudes in the main production area, but by the third hour, he was unable to walk any further. He had to search for bamboo shoots halfway up the mountain. After about two hours of digging in the bamboo forest, he was unable to dig.

It takes a week or two to get into the mountains once. After coming back, he recorded the growing environment, production process, and local customs of the ingredients with pictures and words, and put them in the shop, in his words, "take you all the way to sigh the world".

For example, in his search for Pixian bean sauce, he elaborately showed the production process. When it was founded more than 300 years ago, the raw materials used were very particular: two chilies from Muma Mountain in Sichuan Province, broad beans from Pixian second-class plate, and rock salt from Zigong. The picture shows what happens every day in Chen's century-old soy sauce garden: workers pour the fermented bean cloves into the sauce jar, airing and stirring them every day; The jar must be guarded 24 hours a day, and the lid must be put on at the slightest sign of rain. If you have days of rain, you need to have a person hold up the lid, another person with a pestle and stick to turn over the sauce, turn over a tank immediately cover-up, and then turn over the next tank.

Such care lasts from one to five years, and it takes only one VAT to complete it. Compared with the fermented bean paste that can be charmed in a rumbling machine for half a day, it takes a lot of effort and cost. When found the worker uncle in the sauce garden, his skin was tanned, and his wrinkled forehead was full of sweat. He is even-tempered about his chili bean sauce: "It's bright and thick, and it makes the most delicious sauce. What we use are all the two branches of Sichuan, and we do as much as we collect. I've been cooking it for decades, and I can tell at a glance that I've never used a rogue pepper."

Wen Han traces every ingredient back to its source, recording its manufacturing process, and the difficulty of the maker. But even with all that hard work, he visited more than 30 places in 2012 and found only eight ingredients he liked. He fell into this "ideal man's dilemma": though he traveled far and wide across Sichuan, he found few safe ingredients to eat, the journey was expensive, and the food shops were failing. A year later, the 100,000 yuan he had saved was almost gone. His parents back home called him every day to persuade him to give up. Only his new wife never gave up and gave him 100 percent support. At that time, Wenhan was only one step away from giving up.

I'm so impressed by you

That is, until one night in late November 2012, when his computer rang loudly and someone showed interest in his shop. That night, the number of buyers grew from two or three to more than 40 at a time. Some 700 items were sold in 10 minutes, and the bull market, which was supposed to last for the next year, also sold out. In the following month, Wenhan sold out of a year's backlog of goods.

It all started with a recommendation from columnist and well-known screenwriter "Growling Girl" Bo Bonni on Sina Weibo: "At first I just wanted to find the best bean paste on Taobao, so I found this... Today to give praise, see the boss on the home page: a vagrant working wanderer, how to return to hometown, looking for the ancient and early peace of mind of food materials, inherited so far the craft. Moved me." Bonny, of course, wasn't the only one impressed.

Wawushan dried bamboo shoots, Weiyuan seven-star pepper, Zhongjiang hollow noodles, Pixian broad-bean sauce... Click on the link of each kind of food ingredient, can see the owner in its origin of the visit process: "bamboo shoots too many nutrients, after the mountain can not rest, need to wash and cook immediately, otherwise soon deteriorate." "The baking part is the most demanding, requiring 24 hours of continuous baking without stopping the fire."

Internet users of the hot, let Wenhan's goods snapped up for the first time. Due to the booming business, the Taobao shop, which was originally just done by himself and his wife, has grown to a small team of 7 people.

Although the order volume is large, he can only meet a small part of the sales volume, maybe at least 70% of the orders can not be filled. Because the output of some things is very small, such as Luocheng beef jerky, a farmer can only make more than 90 jin, 100 jin of beef jerky and shredded meat out a week, there is no way to make more; If you're going to force them to order so much, he's probably going to make something that's not up to scratch. So Wenhan decided to sell it like this, the sales volume is small.

Like xu make to visit his native land through written notes, write bonham every time to find himself in the notebook, a year has written four notebooks, his fans loved these with the travels of food photos, someone in his web below reply, said the hard-won ingredients, can "chew out farmers sentiment".

When also loves those humble ingredients makers. "I don't think money is going to solve this problem," he said. If I had money, I would have a different mindset. I wouldn't be able to talk to farmers."

The Wenhan in Gansu Province Kongtong Mountain Pingliang city grew up. When he was young, his parents often took him to the mountains to do rural research because of his work. In Wen Han's view, this experience is probably the source of his pastoral feelings. The magic weapon of dealing with farmers also comes from his father's admonishment to him when he was young: to be honest, honest, and practical when making money. "Farmers are very wary of strangers and can't go anywhere looking for food without being turned away several times." But he felt that his skin was thick enough and he was indomitable despite setbacks. He tried again and again, and it was inevitable that he would be scorned and scolded by them. Even being thrown out of the house is a regular occurrence. He always bore down and told the truth about his purpose over and over. When the trust of the farmers is obtained, their simple feelings in return are far better than the polite and indifferent human exchanges in the city.

In June, the city was already scorching, but Wenhan was walking on the shady mountain path, thirsty, reached out his hand to pick a plum, teeth touched the plum, gently bite, just like a ripe watermelon with a knife, split a few holes, sweet and sour, moisture and sufficient. At this moment, it is a great happiness for Wen Han to be in such an environment. "Now I'm glad I have a chance to do this," he says. "It's not a big deal, but it's something I love and want to do my whole life. I believe that if I fail, I will not regret it, because my life is worth spending some time, walking that way, doing that."


About the Creator

Elora Hays

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