The founder of one of Scotland’s most popular Chinese restaurants, who was once hailed for making the best dumplings Gordon Ramsay has ever had, now cooks up a storm for the elderly at a care home.
After moving to Scotland from North East China in 1997, Jian Wang vowed to incorporate the region’s impressive food into all of her ventures – including her world-famous dumplings.
The 61-year-old was a finalist on Ramsay’s cooking show The F Word, and previously owned three Chop Chop restaurants in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The eateries became regular nominees in the Scottish Restaurant Awards and also one of the few Chinese restaurants in the UK to hold an AA Rosette.
However, Wang was forced to close the three branches in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19, and has now taken up the role of Casual Cook at Bield’s Whitehill Lodge in Dalkeith.
“Taking up the role last November was a really easy decision for me, as I love working with older people and helping to put a smile on their faces with nutritious food,” Wang said.
“As we age things can quickly change, but one thing that doesn’t is our ability to taste.
“This gives me the drive to put my all into every dish and ensure all of the meals I provide have been tailored to the tenants’ preferences.”
Some of the residents favourite dishes include sweet ribs, dumplings and chicken curry – with the chef encouraging feedback after every meal.
“For example, I wanted to incorporate the much-loved dumplings from Chop Chop into the menu at Bield. Instead of making these fried, I made them boiled so it is softer and easier for tenants to enjoy.”
The chef also runs a frozen food business – Chop Chop Frozen – which has been operating for over 24 years and employs 50 staff.
The business supplies dumplings and other Chinese-style delicacies to 50 Chinese supermarkets across the country as well as other restaurants and large supermarkets including Lidl and Aldi.
Before joining Bield, Wang had never cooked anything other than Chinese food.
However, a colleague has been on hand to share advice and recipes such as mince pies, shepherd’s pie and pork chops.
“It has been great to learn these new recipes and I have fallen in love with the different cuisines – I’ve even started making them at home and inserting my own twist with different spices,” Wang said.
“My family keep asking me to make the dishes again and again.”
Whitehill Lodge is one of Bield’s “Retirement Housing with Meals” facilities, which provide two home-cooked meals per day.
Yvonne Boyle, development manager at Bield said: “Jian is a breath of fresh air to have in the development and her talent is remarkable.
“Tenants love her food and the feedback is always brilliant. Jian puts her heart into everything she does and has spent time getting to know each tenant to understand what they like and dislike.
“We are so lucky to have Jian with us at Whitehill Lodge and look forward to every meal she makes.”
Bield is a registered charity dedicated to providing flexible and high-quality housing solutions and support for older people. Bield Housing and Care has around 180 developments across Scotland.