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    Artisanal Woks Are the Breakout Star of ‘A Bite of China’

    Zhangqiu wok craze is probably just a flash in the pan.
    Feb 24, 2018#business

    A workshop in eastern China has asked customers not to climb factory walls to get their hands on its hot woks. Sales of the handmade iron pans surged after savvy product placement in one of China’s most popular cooking shows, local newspaper Jinan Daily reported Friday.

    After a four-year hiatus, state broadcaster CCTV’s beloved food documentary “A Bite of China” returned to the small screen with its third season on Monday, continuing its exploration of the relationship between people and food in Chinese culture.

    The first episode of the new season focused on cooking utensils, and featured handmade iron woks from Zhangqiu in eastern China’s Shandong province. According to the show, the storied craftsmanship behind each pan involves 12 steps. Blacksmiths hammer the metal 36,000 times to produce a nonstick surface that allows cooks to scramble eggs without adding oil.

    At the turn of the millennium, the time-honored heritage of Zhangqiu woks was under threat, the episode explained, but in recent times the tradition has been revived, as more people have come to appreciate artisanal products.

    Thanks to the show, the pans are now even more in demand.

    According to Jinan Daily, customers crowded outside a local pan shop before it opened on Thursday morning, even taking selfies as they waited. Blacksmith Liu Zimu told the reporter that the shop sold around 3,000 iron pans on the evening after the broadcast. “A few days ago, a woman came and wanted to buy a pan, but there was no stock left. She pulled out this [display] pan and hugged it,” Liu said. “We persuaded her to put it back.”

    The shop featured in the episode even posted a statement on its e-commerce store explaining that customers will now have to wait a year or two for orders to be filled. The post also reminds people not to climb over the walls to get into the factory or crowd outside the doors.

    The online product page explains that users should not assume from the show that all foods can be cooked without oil — and that not every pan is hammered 36,000 times.

    “A Bite of China” has brought huge benefits to vendors featured on the program, with some media reports claiming that the show has spurred 6 million people to search for related food products on e-commerce platform Taobao.

    Editor: Qian Jinghua.

    (Header image: A blacksmith hammers an iron wok in Jinan’s Zhangqiu District, Shandong province, Feb. 22, 2018. VCG)