Chinese food is divided into Hot and Cold, or Ying and Yang. Generally speaking, on hot summer days, watermelon is considered good to cool the body off, but ironically not all fruits are considered “cold.”  In winter, dog meat is considered the best “hot” food for warming up the body.

Our film was shot in the summer of 2007.  Nick Fraser suggested an additional shoot of an opening sequence to follow a dish from prep in the kitchen to the mouth of a patron. We sent our Hunan-born Assistant Bai Fan to his hometown during the worst snow storm in China’s recent history.  Millions of people were stranded in train stations trying to get home for Chinese New Year, and West Lake was still open for business.

In the new footage I saw a shot of a what looked like a whole piglet being washed, but then the cook turned the animal over, and it was a whole dog with the snout and everything!  I was shocked.  I turned down dog meat when I was working in Beijing, and I had never actually seen a dog on my table.  So I reported to my producer Lawrence Elman that we had a dog in the kitchen, and he told me to try to work it into the film.  We had shots of a snake getting chopped up, ducks getting stabbed, turtles getting minced, so was a dog such a big deal?  I found an appropriate spot to edit in one shot of the dog. A day later, the London crew called back and pleaded take out the dog, it was just too much to watch, even it was only 3 seconds!

Oh, by the way, I am a vegetarian.  In my early years in Taiwan, I ate flying squirrel and other strange delicacies, but the shot of the dog was truly disturbing to watch.   My family often joked about the food we’ll eat - “anything that flies in the sky except for airplanes, anything that swims in the ocean except for boats, and anything that moves on land except for cars, we will find a way to eat it.”  As for the poor animals that I have to watch over and over again of getting slaughtered, every time I make a cut, I actually try to say a little prayer for them.

Click here to see MAKING OF The Biggest Chinese Restaurant Part 1 and Part 2