Foreigners in Hainan | David Chon: bring authentic western food and service to Hainan

In order to better promote the important news information of Hainan Free Trade Zone and the free trade port with Chinese characteristics to the world, improve international communication and connect Hainan with the world, This is Hainan, the English news channel of hinews.cn, launches Hainan's first Chinese-English bilingual online video program "Foreigners in Hainan". The video program will share the stories of foreigners living, working and studying in Hainan with the platform of internet.

Chimac is my passion, what we’re trying to do is to make authentic western food and offer western style service in Hainan.

—David Chon

David Chon, Korean American, graduated from Columbia University with an economics degree and a MBA, he has over 30 years of experience in the global financial industry. He spent 18 years as a portfolio manager at various hedge funds and private equity funds based in New York and in Asia. 

In 2016, he made a personal private investment in Food & Beverage business in China. Early 2017, he moved to Hainan to run the Chimac restaurant and pub. 

Being asked why he moved to Hainan, David said, “It was not an easy decision, I left my family back in NY, I came here by myself to run and expand the Chimac business. I want to come and establish a brand here, so that we could be ready when the rest of China start to consume western food.”

For many foreign friends in Hainan, Chimac is like a dinner hall for them, they find this place very comfortable, they can hang out for the whole afternoon here, just keep eating, drinking and talking.

“I eat maybe 80%, 90% of the time in the restaurant, and it is our rule that whenever we have a chef in the kitchen, I have to taste his cooking to make sure it's up to the standard before the food can go out to customers. So I usually eat here twice a day. Whenever we develop new menus, I’ll spend two weeks in a row to make adjustments,” he told the reporter.

David also tried to incorporate some local ingredients into the cooking as well, to ensure the foods’ freshness. One of the basic ingredients in their cooking is salt, which is very important, and the salt David uses has a really good flavor.

“When I first got to Hainan, one of the things that I did was ask the kitchen staff to go out and buy all the salt they could find, and they came back with 20 different salt. Then one day, believe it or not, we all sat around and tasted 20 different kinds of salt. So what we finally ended up doing was taking one type of salt. We processed it here to refine it further and to have a very soft saltiness. And that's the salt that we use here in all our food. It forms the base for all the dishes that they are preparing here and try to stay true to the authentic western cooking,” David recalled.

According to him, the restaurant also make its own bread, sauces, and even the hamburger patty and all the sausages, to ensure the quality as well as the freshness.

David speaks very fluent English but very limited Chinese, he thinks that he is very fortunate to find some English majors who are working at Chimac now. They help David to communicate with the rest of the staff members and also help him to conduct his work in Haikou.

Except for running the restaurant, Davis is also very interested in various projects, involving education and underprivileged children, because he believes that companies, as well as individuals, should do more for their community and the future generation.

“We have many young people, altogether around 25 young people from Hainan that are working in my company. I always see them as my children or part of my family in China. And this one particular young man who joined us for this Guomao store, he is handicapped and he can't speak and hear. So when we hired him, I had a meeting with the rest of the staff in the company. I told them, there would be another person joining our company, he would be very similar to me, he can’t speak Chinese, but unlike me he can write and read Chinese. So that was how I introduced him to the rest of the company. He has been very productive and he has incorporated himself really well into the company. Not just me, everybody at the company has adjusted well to him,” said David.

In the future, David also plans to develop this western style restaurant in western style service to the mainland cities.

“I think it's a little bit of cool concept, because usually it's the mainland products and franchises that are coming to Hainan. So it will be a very unique situation for us to make the brand in Hainan, and then develop it to the mainland. It will be a unique experience so I hope everybody in Hainan will cheer for us!” said David.

Responsible editor: 石一涵
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