Chinese cooking inspiring business

Chinese cooking can teach us a lot about business.

It is about how you can apply the various aspects of a hobby or a new lifestyle to your business. Learn about Chinese Cooking and learn about business and innovation. My main hobby is Chinese cooking. It has helped me to think through the many challenges I was confronted with and created many solutions in my businesses life over the last 35 years. If you are feeling low, frustrated or need inspiration for your business, the,n this post will help.

A case study by Peter Sergeant

What’s Chinese cooking have to do with anything?

I stress to people they must focus on real issues, their big picture and ignore all the background noise. The background noise is produced by colleagues, friends and most of all the media. Background noise created by the media can be the most distracting as it is focused on the world’s problems.

The problems affecting many countries throughout the world will have little impact on you in short to medium-term, if at all. Chinese cooking has helped me to cope with all the harmful noise. When I start cooking all the negative thoughts disappeared as I needed to concentrate on what I am doing.

My how we have changed in 50 years

When my wife left school, she remembers having only a few options for employment. She could choose nursing, teaching, secretarial work or a shop assistant; she chose to nurse. When it came to the average meal in those days, the sound standard was ‘meat and three vegetables, none of that fancy stuff.’

Now there are numerous choices of work available to women, much the same as those open to men. Because of the changes that are taking place in the world, there are thousands of new jobs opening up. Similar changes have taken place with our cuisine and influenced by migrants from all parts of the world and have significantly changed our lifestyle.

35 years ago I too was looking for a change in lifestyle and becoming more involved with my family. Chinese cooking was something I had always wanted to get involved with and explore. Mainly because I liked it and it is thousands of years old, and I felt there must be something great about it. A new hobby, something foreign to me, something I could get the children involved with, as well as giving my wife a break from cooking.

I could learn from this ancient culture

Hopefully, I could learn to give my family and friends some new experiences and a new way of looking at things. Next thing I bought some Chinese cookbooks and so a new dimension of our lifestyle was born, a lifestyle we are still enjoying today.

I enjoy my friends coming to my Chinese banquets, often their praise can be overwhelming, but they really ‘light my fires’. Today, I’m pleased I took up Chinese cooking. It has resulted in many a happy gathering with family and friends. And it has refuelled my imagination and creativity, as well as showing me many insights into how a business can work better.

What’s does Chinese cooking have to do with business?

Australian business people’s character includes individuality and inventiveness. It also applies to the characteristics of Chinese cooking and business principles which can create significantly improved outcomes. The unique style and simplicity of Chinese cooking have been developed over many centuries. Whereas most people in business have only been involved for a very short time and have not had a lot of practice.

Despite a 5,000-year-old heritage, Chinese cooking is still relevant today. It contains variety, healthy eating, is simple or complex and quick to prepare. You can start by breeding or growing your own produce for dishes such as Peking Duck.

Chinese food is regarded as the ideal food for our modern times, being high in protein and complex carbohydrates and low in calories and fat. Meat plays a secondary part to vegetables. Grains are widely used, mainly rice and for making noodles. Soy Beans and their derivatives are also an essential part of Chinese cooking.

You can’t please everyone

One of the first things I learned was, trying to please everybody can be the key to failure. I now think the adage that ‘the customer is always right’, is wrong. My cooking is done with passion and love to please my family and friends, but only after I have decided what I want to cook.

By focusing on what is important to you first, your enjoyment will be enhanced. I don’t see this as being selfish, but rather as necessary if you want to help others. Success breeds success and success requires you being motivated by what you are doing.

Most elements of a proper diet can be combined in one single Chinese dish. So Chinese cooking and eating methods are conducive to good health. Understanding the food you eat is so critical to maintaining good health. And to run your businesses well, you need to understand the basics.

Lack of direction causes many problems and frustrations

Do you feel overloaded and stressed because of the direction your business is taking? Are sales and profits declining and you are only just surviving while struggling with weak cash flow? Perhaps the direction you are seeking is so wrong your best employees have been slowly leaving, and you are only one lost customer away from bankruptcy? Running a business is hard enough without running around in circles.

It is precisely what you risk doing if you don’t clarify your business direction. Businesses that start failing often lack clarity of purpose, so it pays to get your business’s mission sorted first. If you apply this thinking to Chinese cooking, you can usually be faced with many problems. All due to the lack of planning and preparation, particularly when you cook your first banquet for 10 or 15 people.

Saving a business from the brink of disaster, or a banquet from disaster is not easy, but it can be done. Often all that is needed are a few new strategies to change direction. A change in work habits along with sound practical advice and support can also impact on the route. The essential first step is to take a deep breath, adjust your mental attitude, be positive and start believing in yourself and what you are trying to achieve.

Apply the enjoyable characteristics of Chinese food to your businesses

Chinese cooking is an art form. We all like to be entertained, and when something makes you feel good, we respond positively. So why don’t businesses apply these principles to improve their success in meeting their aspirations and giving better customer experiences?


The flavours are the most critical test of any dish. So too is the ‘taste’ of your products and services in the hands of your customers. It is the foundation of delivering excellent customer experiences.


30% of your enjoyment comes from visual impact, the shapes and; there. If your business and its products do not have an excellent visual impression on your customers, the expected sales will not follow. How many times have you walked out of a business because you did not like the visual impact of the business environment?


Crunchy, smooth, soft, runny, bony and gelatinous. You like variety just the same as your customers. People do not like the same old ‘stuff’ being dished up all the time.


Communal eating, good company and sharing dishes are an essential aspect of the enjoyment of food. You all like that feeling of belonging and so do your customers. It gives rise to the need for building a ‘social enterprise’ that is enjoyable, reliable and helps you to leave with good feelings.


Aromas sharpen the appetite with the many and varied smells. Good clean, fresh, inviting smells are always appealing. They help you make buying decisions just like the onions on a barbeque, or the fresh bread in a bakery.


Some dishes are renowned because of the noise they make even though excessive noise can be a turnoff. Again, this is one of your basic senses that must be respected and catered for. Would you buy a car that does not have a sound you like? How many people buy Harley Davidson motorcycles because of its unique sound. Do you return to a restaurant or business with loud music or excessive noise?

A ‘flooded river’ of data, information produce, and knowledge

There are more than 80,000 officially recorded recipes in China. Probably more has been written down through the ages about Chinese Cooking, than any other cuisine.  Thousands of cookbooks (I must have at least 150) have been written and will continue to be written.

As people try to express their feelings and creative talents to help others achieve the same experiences, cooking can play its part. With cookbooks, no one who cooks, cooks alone, you are always surrounded by generations of cooks, their recipes, and their wisdom.

Hasn’t it all been invented?

There are millions of recipes on how to run a better business as well as millions of books on how to manage, market and finance your business. The reason I relate business to Chinese cooking is that the principles and methods  I have used in Chinese cooking help me. They help me to see things more constructively about business, always with the customer experience in mind.

Some years ago when my daughters’ Chinese friend was getting married, I agreed to cook a Chinese banquet for her wedding reception and had no concept of the issues that I had to face. It is one thing to prepare for ten to twenty people, but quite another to cook for 150.

If I had thought about the different skills needed to run a two-person business, as against a ten-person business, I would have coped much better. Cooking for 150 required different equipment, different methods as well needing to managing eight helpers.

Yes, I was lulled into a false sense of security when they showed me this huge commercial kitchen, where the wedding reception was to be held. I had no idea the gas was not strong enough; there was inadequate bench space. And me, the ‘master chef’ had not prepared a work schedule for the helpers. We only just averted a disaster, more by good luck than proper management.

The new world will challenge your businesses to be innovative, creative and adaptable. You will have to improve your performance continuously with innovation, and you will need to build new alliances and ventures both locally and globally. 

How the complexities of business relate to Chinese cooking

Chinese cooking can be complicated when you try to think about everything at once. It is involved if you think about 16 cutting methods, 11 distinctive shapes, 40 cooking methods and an untold number of ingredients from which to choose. This complexity also shows the scope of creativity that can be opened up to you. Whether you are cooks or not, those same sound principles can be applied to any business.

Cookbooks and recipes need only be used as a guide to creativity and innovation. Let your imagination run wild, and inspirations will abound. With so many exotic ingredients becoming available, through specialist Chinese shops and importers, there should be no limit to your creativity. Specialist shops stocking Australian meats such as crocodile, camel, kangaroo and emu are now springing up. Providing a new or additional dimension for creativity.

Just as the global economy is opening up new opportunities for creating better businesses, so it is with Chinese cooking. The technology explosion and other trends you have to cope with in business, only serve to open up an abundance of opportunities. To which you can apply your own individuality and creativeness.

If you do not learn the fundamentals of life and your business, then it will feel like a war out there, and you will be the loser. With business books, cookbooks, eBooks, the Internet and social media you have a lot of information to draw on. The ‘flooded river’ of data, information, and knowledge which you can apply your imagination and initiative too is becoming more significant and is endless.

Chinese cooking, like a business, starts with a dream and a vision

Just as you must create a vision for your business you, need to have a vision for a particular Chinese dish or proposed dinner party.  You must then apply your common sense and creative talents to do what you need to do. Chinese cooking has been called ‘a living art,’ as I believe small business is if you are continually looking for new initiatives, possibilities.

Chinese cooking can be a bit daunting, but there are also many small business owners and potential owners that feel the same way. Mainly they are not creative and lack a passion and vision for the future.

Chinese cooking maybe the way for you to expose the hidden talents within you. Start, using ingredients with which you are familiar. Understand the fundamentals, learn a few simple principles and experiment from there. Likewise, start with a simple business and make it grow into what you want. Start simply so people can understand, you can become more complicated with experience.

Lifestyle can improve your life by applying Chinese cooking principles. What is your recipe for building a lifestyle and a business that works? It’s easy to see the people who understand how things work and have strategies to create the results they want.

You will end up a loser if you keep stumbling along wishing, hoping and always complaining that you never get a break. Learning about Chinese cooking Change will influence the way you want to live and work. It can change the culture you operate in and bring some balance into your life. 

Activate your dream using modern technology and Chinese cooking principles

Powerful microchips are changing your future whether you like it or not. Excuses as to why you can’t activate your dreams are diminishing rapidly as technology improves and becomes more affordable. In driving your future, you must upgrade your agility and ability to adapt quickly. It is what Chinese cooking can teach you.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Google+, are fundamentally data-driven and agile. It is because they figured out a way to improve their value, by monetising vast amounts of data. What business wouldn’t want that, but it’s a challenge for most businesses to digest and act upon.

Where do you go when your ‘leading business’ has fallen from grace? Perhaps due to the disruptive innovations of your competitors and your failure to implement new and innovative technologies? More helpful, useful, and accessible products and services with lower pricing are often behind any change.

It is happening at an increasing rate. With Chinese cooking, you will have many failures. However, you will quickly learn to change a failing dish by adding extra ingredients. Adding a new sauce and even switching at the last minute to a different cooking method can make all the difference.

You don’t need complicated technology for everything

Long gone are the days when systems analysis and programming are at the forefront of a business’s future. Everyone has had to develop their use of available technology. From office systems to business efficiency improvements, logistics and, new product development. The Chinese can do so much with just a simple ‘wok’, which says to me, keep it simple, you can always use more complex technology later.  Chinese cooking teaches you to focus on the ‘human elements’ first.

Who would ever have envisaged 3D printers developing products from toys to spaceships? However, if you want to activate your dream with a minimum of time and effort, you, can now design a robot to do it for you. If Chinese cooking teaches you one thing, it is to be resourceful and adaptable.

Chinese cooking helps to define the rules and learn about failure

Like everyone, you will have failures, just as there are failures in business. Don’t be disheartened, learn from your mistakes, they are there to teach you. Your dish may not have met your expectations but, your guests may be delighted and enjoy it. They would not necessarily know what a failure in Chinese cooking was. Give your failure a new name, or a new twist, you may have a hit on your hands as a result of the failure. It would not be the first success to come from failure and, it will not be the last, so be prepared.

Many people have only experienced second-grade Chinese food from Chinese restaurants. Restaurants using lashings of MSG (chemical flavour enhancer) to give their otherwise dull food some flavour. Using good quality fresh ingredients makes all the difference, just as using the right quality materials and methods in your business will also make a difference.

There are no defined rules, just as there was never a ‘bible’ written for Chinese cooking, or for business. Chinese cuisine keeps on growing and absorbing new materials and innovations across the world, much the same as successful businesses do. It is probably the reason that most people find Chinese cooking not only good to eat but also fun to cook.

Becoming a good business operator

In Chinese cooking, as with running a business, there are three critical things to know if you want to perfect your skills:

  1. Practice
  2. More practice
  3. Keep practising

Learn by practice and, you will become perfect in what you want to achieve. People shy away from Chinese cooking just as they do from business because they think there is too much work. They won’t be able to do it because the preparation is too hard. Or because of the variety of ingredients and the specialised equipment and utensils required are different to those they with which they are familiar.

As you become more proficient, you will be able to whip up a great meal very quickly. Mainly when you use some of the recognised shortcuts, which will give you more time to do the things that you want. It is why some people are confident in running any type of business; they have learned by understanding and practising the fundamentals.

Recipes are great for cooking and great for business

Most recipes are easy to follow and can be prepared in any Western kitchen. But,  start simple and master the basics. There can be a lot of work involved with Chinese cooking just as there is in running a business. If you are not prepared to do the hard work while you are learning then perhaps you should never start.


Both Chinese cooking and business are easy if you follow the recipes and use the right equipment.


People hesitate to cook Chinese because they believe there is some mystery about it that the Western mind cannot come to grips with it. However, it is remarkably simple, economical and practical. There are no rigid rules or precise quantities leaving plenty of room for imagination and creativity. It is the hallmark of any competent professional, be they a chef or business owner.

Business like Chinese cooking should not be a chore; it is a creative activity. The blending of colours, tastes,  textures and utensils giving a great deal of aesthetic satisfaction. Making it pleasing to eat, popular with your guests, and something you can profit from them.

As in business, it must be fun for everyone

Stirring the creative juices in you, keeping you vibrant and putting the ‘sizzle’ into the sausages. Avoid the negative and annoying people and provide your customers with exceptional service and experiences they will fondly remember.

Beware, if you are a man, some people can be ungrateful, even cruel. Someone once told me that it could be very tiring eating a meal cooked by a man. When a woman does the cooking, it’s, “that’s nice, pass the salt”. But when a man cooks, you have to act like he just built a ladder to the moon, he wants all the praise he can get. 

 Quotable quotes

“Apply the same thinking about food to improving the dynamics of your business”.  Peter Sergeant

“Don’t get too complex too early – keep things simple until you master the fundamentals.”  Peter Sergeant

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