Profile: Italian chef fulfills dream in China's resort island

(Xinhua) 13:43, December 30, 2021

HAIKOU, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- By the seaside of Sanya Bay in Sanya, a tourist city in south China's Hainan Province, an Italian restaurant has attracted countless diners from home and abroad with its authentic flavors.

Daniele, the owner and head chef of the restaurant, hails from Sardinia, Italy.

"My restaurant is traditional Italian in general, but more Mediterranean, and especially Sardinian food, something unique in China," said Daniele.

Once a chef of a five-star hotel, Daniele has worked in many countries including Britain, Thailand and Qatar. He appreciated the chance to experience new cultures, new languages and new people.

When he came to Sanya from Doha in 2015, he fell in love with this tropical coastal city and never left. "The reason is simple. I found my wife here," he said. "My wife is practically ideal. Without my wife, I cannot do business."

His wife Tessa, a Chinese woman from Xi'an, used to work in the same hotel with him. Growing closer by the day, they gradually fell in love with each other and got married in 2017.

"He is very passionate, and he loves his job very much," said Tessa.

In 2018, Daniele and Tessa decided to open a restaurant named Cucina, which means kitchen in Italian.

"It's my dream, as a chef, to have my own restaurant," said Daniele. "I love Sanya, and it's a place full of opportunities."

In his eyes, Sanya is a top tourist destination in China, while Hainan is also a free trade zone, meaning more opportunities for people coming to the island.

While running his own restaurant, Daniele also offers consulting services to different hotels and Chinese restaurants in Sanya. "Not too many foreign chefs are working here, so they need help to develop their international menus, and especially Mediterranean, Italian menus."

In his spare time, Daniele likes surfing and paddling. "We can enjoy the sea for 12 months in Sanya, and that's the best part."

Having lived in Sanya for more than six years, Daniele has witnessed the development of the city with new buildings and parks springing up almost daily. "The environment is better, and the government has invested a lot not just in normal infrastructure, but also in the service for citizens," he said.

Daniele and his wife had planned to open a second Italian restaurant featuring Italian street food in another bay in Sanya. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the plan has been put on hold.

"As soon as we see a little bit of opportunity, and the economy becomes more stable, we will open our restaurant," said Daniele. 

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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