This year’s annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting kicked off on the evening of November 10, 2014 at Beijing’s “Water Cube” aquatic center. Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted a grand welcoming banquet featuring a spectacular cultural experience with traditional Chinese entertainment, food, decor, and garb, but the outstanding eye-candy of the evening was the 68-piece Imperial yellow dining sets reserved for each attending national leader.
There were two separate sets served at the dinner party, the 68-piece Imperial yellow design for the VIPs, including President Barack Obama, and a white dinnerware set with (only) 63 pieces for foreign ministers. What do you serve on such extravagant tableware? Theatrically presented roasted duck, of course! Eight chefs from Quanjude Group performed demonstrations on how to properly cut Peking duck and the final dish was artfully composed into the shape of a flower titled “Millennium Peony,” which sounds like the name a disappointing backyard firework.
The theme of the extravagant dinnerware is “Flourishing Age” (“The Age of Xi”) and the design was inspired by the mural painting of the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang. Chief designer Zhuang Zhicheng explained to the Global Times that “this set of tableware designed for the APEC banquet conveys [China’s] message of best wishes and common prosperity.”
The Famille Jaune (yeelow ground) enamel coated porcelain was popular during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and the APEC dinnerware brings this recent history into a present-day context. The Chinese Culture Promotion Society told The Global Times that “the tableware blended traditional and modern Chinese elements, stirring the public’s memories of traditional Chinese culture.” The design did indeed excite the public with a trendy rush of online buyers who dubbed the dinnerware “APEC Style” and paid nearly 100,000RMB (about $16,300) for one Imperial yellow 68-piece set.
Justin Crowe has joined CFile’s team as writer-at-large and will be reporting from Europe in the coming months.
Photographs via Sina.