Ivan Li, Executive Chef and co-owner of Family Li Imperial Cuisine, is the recipient of the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award. The honour is part of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards programme, sponsored by S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna and organised by William Reed Business Media.
Li continues the recipes and cooking methods originated by his great-grandfather, Li Shunqing, who oversaw the imperial kitchen in the Forbidden City during the Qing dynasty. After retiring from the royal court, Li Shunqing recorded details of the imperial menu, noting the ingredients and culinary skills, and recalling the Empress Cixi’s favourite dishes.
Respecting the legacy of his great-grandfather, Li safeguards the time-honoured recipes that his family has preserved for four generations and showcases the finest natural ingredients and flavours, focusing on harmony and purity of taste. Dishes are cooked over a gentle oven fire, replicating the traditional practices once employed in Empress Cixi’s kitchen.
Li helped establish the first Family Li Imperial Cuisine restaurant in Beijing in 1985, later opening satellite restaurants in Melbourne, Tokyo and Taipei. In 2006, Li was appointed Technical Consultant for the Family Li Imperial Cuisine Shanghai, as well as for the Tianjin branch, opened two years later.
More recently, in 2010 Li opened the Family Li Imperial Cuisine restaurant in Beijing’s Shunyi district. A graduate of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology with a degree in Interior Design, Li was also responsible for the restaurant’s emperor-worthy interiors. From this Beijing base, Li trains apprentice chefs to work at the Shanghai and Tianjin branches, and test-trials the thousands of imperial recipes in his collection.
William Drew, Group Editor of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants said: “Chef Li has spent his career honouring traditional culinary practices and passing on his knowledge of imperial cuisine to future generations of chefs. His vast contribution in helping to preserve China’s food culture makes him a very worthy recipient of the prestigious Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Acknowledging the award, Li said: “It is truly a great honour to be recognised by my peers. The award inspires the team at Family Li Imperial Cuisine to continue our efforts in maintaining traditions and sharing China’s culinary legacy around the world.”
Li will be presented with his award at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony on 24 February 2014 at Capella Hotel, Singapore.
Read more about chef Li here.