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Fermi Fang: Post-90s can be tough too

Year 4, BBA in Hotel and Tourism Management
Restaurant Manager at The Stage
(Photo by ISO staff)
(Photo by ISO staff)

Where are you from?

I was born in Taipei, and moved to Canada when I was less than a year old. I went back to Taiwan for elementary school and lived in Hsinchu until I left high school.

Why did you come to CUHK to study hotel management?

By the time I left high school, I had received offers from five top business schools including the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, the University of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. I chose to study hotel management at CUHK because even though I was interested in business studies, I didn't really like accounting and theory. I'd rather focus on hotel operational management. Many other universities have BSc in hotel management, but only the CUHK programme is a BBA programme with a practical curriculum.

Why did you take part in a model contest at the age of 18?

I wanted to spend a memorable summer before college, so I signed up for the competition held by a well-known modelling agency in Taiwan. The first round was intense. Only 30 contestants were picked from hundreds. I had never modelled before, while many others were professionals. Surprisingly I got myself into the second round, when I performed dancing and piano playing for the talent show. I did not make it to the final, but made a lot of new friends, some of whom I am still in touch with.

Tell us about competing in a culinary competition hosted by Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse in 2013.

A professor recommended me for it. Since it was just between autumn and winter, I named my dish 'late autumn'. It was a spoon-sized appetizer of seasonal ingredients—hairy crab meat and tomalley, Japanese scallop, and pumpkin—tossed with pomelo jam. I competed against representatives from many other schools, some of which were real culinary academies. I was a business student who liked cooking. Luckily I was chosen to be one of the 10 winning student chefs, and got to spend a morning in the kitchen with Ducasse and his team to prepare lunch for him.

What kind of problems have you encountered interning at the teaching restaurant The Stage?

This is the second time I have interned at this restaurant run by the School of Hotel and Tourism Management. The first was three years ago when I worked as a kitchen trainee. Every day for a year, I came here at around 7 am to learn how to make macarons and cakes with the pastry chef. Now I serve as a restaurant manager, and have to face all sorts of problems on a daily basis, especially when it comes to human resources. Managing people is far more difficult than managing procurement or finance. People have their own thoughts and feelings. To lead a team is to train myself in what cannot be learnt in classrooms.

You will be graduating soon. What are your next moves?

I have two plans. First, I have applied for the part-time master programme in information and technology management, with convenient evening and weekend schedules. Besides, I have found myself a full-time job—continuing to work as a manager at The Stage. The restaurant has big plans. I want to help to make the place a landmark in CUHK.

It is said that people born in the 90s are used to being taken care of. Is it hard for your generation to engage in the service industry?

Post-90s are considered not tough enough. But this is just a stereotype. When competing in the cooking contest, I met a lot of peers who were doing what people consider tough jobs. The premise is that they need to feel interested enough. In fact, post-90s have their own best interests at heart. For me, as long as I like the food and beverage industry, I don't mind a little pain, nor would I consider it a lowly job. What matters most is doing what I enjoy and enjoying what I do.

What do you think are the golden rules in food and beverage service?

To engage in the industry, it's most important to remain devoted. I used to intern at the Four Seasons Hotel, working 10 hours a day, six days a week, and sometimes 10 days in a row. It's a lot of pressure. How is it possible to endure long working hours and at the same time, keep a smile on your face when serving the customers? You must feel passionate about what you do and heartily wish for the happiness of your customers. Then their satisfaction will become yours.

What are your most favourite foods in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Canada?

It is sort of funny that the Canadian foods I miss most are Chinese dishes. In Vancouver there are many Chinese-run eateries. I love fried dishes like sweet and sour pork and fish. I also yearn for Taiwan's amazing variety of snacks sold in night markets, such as fried chicken and tempura. In Hong Kong I like having dim sum—barbecued pork buns, siu mai, steamed shrimp dumplings are my favourites.


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