Yangzhou's fried-rice event was a publicity push that just went to waste

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 November, 2015, 1:29am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 November, 2015, 1:32am

Someone forgot to tell those Guinness-record-hungry chefs in Yangzhou that it's quality, not quantity that counts.

Last week, city organisers in the eastern province of Jiangsu attempted to cook the world's biggest helping of the famous fried rice that bears its name.

Chefs cooked up 4,192kg of the dish, according to news reports, as part of a city-wide commemoration of the 2,500th anniversary of the founding of the city.

After the stunt, organisers promptly fed the massive amount of fried rice - to pigs.

Perhaps the chefs who cooked the rice didn't think it was good enough. Or their bosses just didn't care about the waste so long as they made it into the record book.

In any case, they suffered, deservedly, a media backlash, which prompted an abject apology.

In 2002, city officials tried to trademark Yangzhou-style fried rice by promulgating a standard recipe based on ingredients specified in three classic cookbooks dating back centuries. That attracted lots of foreign media coverage. The sanctioned recipe includes sea cucumbers, dried scallops, bamboo shoots, shrimps, chicken, spring onion, dried mushrooms, smoked ham and eggs cooked in soya sauce, a chicken broth and Shaoxing wine.

As in many major mainland cities, the central government has been enforcing a widely publicised campaign against waste and extravagant spending among officials.

Guinness has disqualified the attempt partly because they had wasted the food. There is nothing wrong to try to gain publicity to promote one's city. But sharing food instead of wasting it should have been the theme, especially for an occasion that was supposed to celebrate the city.

This time, organisers went too far and generated plenty of well-deserved bad publicity. As many mainland cities are also trying to pull similar publicity stunts, let this be a lesson for all of them.