Foodies in the San Francisco Bay Area will get the chance to taste the authentic food of Chengdu, one of the best culinary destinations in China.
A two-week festival celebrating Chengdu's arts and cuisine kicked off Thursday in San Francisco with a festive evening gala at City Hall co-hosted by Edwin Lee, mayor of San Francisco, and Fu Yonglin, vice-mayor of Chengdu.
The festival is the first of its kind between San Francisco and its friendship city of Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province.
Among the visiting Chinese delegation will be a team of 10 top Sichuan chefs, who will be serving up the evening's signature menu of Chengdu masterpieces.
Renowned Sichuan Opera artists will provide entertainment of a Kongfu tea ceremony and "face-changing" performance.
In the week following the City Hall gala, the 10 chefs will be joined by Chef Martin Yan, star of the long-running television show Yan Can Cook, on a Bay Area exchange tour.
"This is a monumental event for both cities," said Yan, the culinary coordinator of the festival. "This is a multi-level, multimedia cultural exchange between two of the most dynamic cities of the world."
"Art, culture, food, high-technology -- (they are) two centers of innovation and limitless potential for growth and two regions where fine food is revered as a daily necessity," he said.
During the first week, five special Sichuan-themed culinary events will be hosted at five famous Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area - Koi Palace (Nov 11), Chef Chu's (Nov 13), China Stix (Nov 14), Crystal Jade (Nov 17) and M.Y. China (Nov 12-23).
The dinners will feature classic Sichuan dishes such as mapo tofu, tea-smoked duck with glutinous rice and "husband and wife delight", prepared by the Sichuan chefs and chefs at each venue.
"The partnership between Chengdu and local chefs is expected to create new fusion cuisine for Sichuan food enthusiasts in the Bay Area," said Yin Jian, deputy director general of the Chengdu Municipal Commission of Commerce.
During the festival, the Sichuan chefs will be split up in teams to visit the corporate dining facilities in Silicon Valley, including at Pinterest, Intel, Oracle, Facebook, Cisco Systems and Google. The visits will feature cooking demonstrations.
The chefs will also take their presentation to schools in the Bay Area - the Le Gordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Contra Costa College and the Confucius Institute at San Francisco State University.
"San Francisco and Chengdu are two cities that share many similarities - first of all for our love of culture and arts, technology -- but most notably -- our food scene," said Lee. "We are delighted to kick off the first-ever Chengdu Food Festival in San Francisco, and look forward to many more food festivals in the future that will further strengthen the ties between our two friendship cities."
Chengdu is emerging on the world stage, and San Francisco is a perfect launching pad, said Luo Linquan, Chinese consul general in San Francisco, adding that the festival is "history in the making".
The promotion of Sichuan cuisine will continue after the festival as Chef Yan and a team of local chefs will put on a series of Sichuan cooking demonstrations at public libraries in the Bay Area.