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Drink, eat, and be merry

By Shen Lili (Global Times)

08:29, April 24, 2012

Chinese dish

Documentary dishes out culture and commentary

When thinking of China, foreign tourists might imagine the magnificent Forbidden City or the winding Great Wall, women sashaying in embroidered cheongsams, and young men studying calligraphy. But for many Westerners, China is primarily experienced through the delights of Chinese food.

The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World, a four-part documentary series based on the West Lake Restaurant in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, reveals modern China through a restaurant's daily events.

In 2008, a BBC manager visited Guangdong Province for a meeting and ate supper at a local seafood restaurant. It was there the manager thought of producing a documentary about Chinese food, sending a British director to film at local restaurants.

Although a great deal of time was spent filming, the desired product failed to materialize. BBC then found Chinese director Chen Weijun, whose documentary Please Vote for Me was nominated for an Oscar in 2007.

"I happened to see a report about the West Lake Restaurant, awarded the largest Chinese restaurant in the world by the China Records, the Chinese Guinness World of Records. So I told them we should film at a restaurant like this," said Chen.

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