Old China Hands stars

Our members are interesting figures

As mentioned in my previous post our Old China Hands stars come in different colors.
Here more about some of them, we have several other stars! Proud to have this community and sad each time one has to leave Beijing (like Kent).

Terry Crossman

You can call him the Hutong guy, well known around the Houhai area and featured in many media. He speaks Chinese fluently and sometimes I think he is more Chinese than American.

Many articles on the net with all the interviews he had. See this one from Haivision (Hainan Airlines magazine). I just was on Hainan Airlines but the Haivision on board did not have the article yet.

210403 TerryCrossman

Mark Levine

He is plastered all over the Chinese Internet and appears in all kinds of official meetings, often as a juror or something for English language competition and other.
See the article in China Daily of 1 April 2021. (Link)

He is a teacher (Minzu University and more) and musician, also a member of our foreign experts team (see: https://blog.strategy4china.com/2019/05/china-international-talent-exchange-foundation/).

I had the pleasure of being on a few assignments with him where he used his musical skills well as a bridge between the West and China. I was also one of the first to be in the audience for his public concerts.Article and video Introducing the documentary short film “Music Life” by Dr. Mark Levine, a foreign expert from Minzu University, here the full article, one other recent interview:

210401 MarkLevine_Minzu

Our hard rock (?) guy

Kent Niepert is one of our regular “Old China Hands” at the monthly lunch. He is also a painter, chef (loves to cook) and plays some great guitar, here with his two gifted sons who form a band. I missed his concert of 3 April 2021 but I hope to make it at his next one on 17 April 2021.

See a short video clip of his recent concert: https://youtu.be/e0z_xI4hA9s

You can see that Beijing’s (night) life is not exactly boring, even in these COVID times.
Kent has been constantly surprising us, bringing some great deserts to our lunches and handing out some “original” paintings of our members (like me). See earlier lunch reports such as this one.

Old China Hands 2 April lunch

Start of the Tomb Sweeping holiday

We had our our Old China Hands 2 April lunch on what was actually Good Friday (nobody seemed to notice it). Many of our members were already away to take advantage of the long weekend for Tomb Sweeping. We were still near 30 to chatter away for hours while enjoying as always the food of Morel’s Restaurant (packed as always). But Easter was everywhere in the restaurant with the decoration of eggs, cute little chicks and flowers.

We also welcomed our youngest member, Oliver, son of Didier with well over ten years of China!
Our Belgian friend Benoit first thought to be alone at his table but some late comers ended his isolation.

Always something happening

Our artist member Kent presented his painting of Mark and Fu Han to Mark. Well done!
Sadly our artist/musician/chef Kent is planning to leave us for the USA to be finally reunited with his wife.
And I introduced a fellow author and long-time friend, Rainer Thomm, whose book “China Mission Impossible” I help to promote, see my book report here.
I hadn’t seen Rainer since ages as he left for Guangdong, far away from the mad crowd of Beijing.

In next post I will talk more about some of our famous Old China Hands members. We have a few remarkable and unique fellows really. Stay tuned!

Old China Hands 5 March

Full house

Our monthly lunch for Old China Hands 5 March had again to fight to get enough seats in Morel’s Restaurant. Initially I got 30 seats… then up to 40… Giving a chance to the people on the waiting list!
We were 36 exactly, pretty impressive number.
While we had some concerns with the “Double Meetings”, it all went well. As usual the restaurant was fully packed…

Kent is leaving

One of our enthusiastic and regular members, Kent, is sadly leaving us soon. His has been separated from his wife (stuck in USA) for over a year. They finally decided Kent will leave Beijing for the USA. One more victim of the virus pandemic. Will miss him as well as his great deserts he brought us! Kent is talented…. painter, musician, cook, …

Kent wrote on Facebook (unedited):
“Due to my plans to leave China in May, today will probably be my last luncheon with my foreign expat friends. Every month on the first Friday about 35 of us gather from various countries and have a lunch together in a famous Belgian restaurant named, Morel’s, after it’s owner Chef Renaat Morel. Our organizer, Gilbert Van Kerchove, who is also Belgian and has lived in China over 40 years was also honored by me today. Instead of today being a going away party for me, I presented Renaat and Gilbert with a portrait done by me as gratitude for all of the great food and fond memories that they have helped cultivate for all of us that are part of the Old China Hands group.”
Thanks my friend (yeah my correct name is Kerckhove hehe).

Thanks for the painting! Though my wife said I should check a skin specialist for the suspicious growth on my face.
We even had (once more) a birthday celebration, our Aussie lady Rebecca.

A famous foreigner joined

We had also the famous Cao Cao joining us. I will write about that in another post. I already mentioned him here.

Next lunch

Next lunch is planned for Friday 2 April. Lucky it is not 1 April. And I hope I will not mess up (again) my invitation email… with the wrong date somewhere…

Old China Hands 5 February

Restaurant overbooked

Our lunch for Old China Hands 5 February met for the first time a problem with Morel’s Restaurant. The reason: the restaurant has seen an intense flow of customers, mostly Chinese, who want to test European cuisine and have a good time as they cannot travel abroad or even within China. The online clip from a foreigner “Caocao” – pretty famous guy in the online media – drew some 10 million hits if I got it right. So the Chinese want to eat what he praised so much…. Result, the restaurant never sold so many steak béarnaise…
Interesting fact: Chinese customers spend much much more per head than foreigners in general. Look look who has the money these days…
The restaurant was forced to give us only 30 seats, many of our Old China Hands were disappointed as they were refused… Sadly some failed to show up, stealing away seats for the others. Poor attitude.
We ended with 28 people. We hope that the next lunch will not have the same limitation!

See some of the dishes that were on our menu.
When I apologized to other Chinese customers for our lively presence, they actually replied they found it very interesting!

Next lunch

Our next lunch is planned for Friday 5 March, the first for the Year of the Ox.

Hopefully the virus situation will remain under control…

Old China Hands 8 January

Full house again

Our lunch for Old China Hands 8 January saw a pretty full house with a total of over 30. For once not on the first Friday as that would have been 1 January.
All not bad at some are still stuck abroad, some are still afraid of “crowds” and some are too busy.

This time Chef Renaat prepared a special desert: “Galette des Rois”, in English “King Cake”.
About King Cake and the Festival of Epiphany, see here:

A figurine, “la fève”, is hidden in the cake. A paper crown is included with the cake to crown the “king” (or queen) who finds the fève in their piece of cake. To avoid dental accidents Renaat used a peanut instead of a coin or other. The lucky “King” was Allan!
See how it came out of the oven. The cake is special, some do not like it that much but that’s the way it is.

Next lunch

Just before the rush for Chinese New Year (12 February, Year of the Ox) we will have our next lunch on Friday 5 February. Hopefully the virus situation will not worsen and we can have our lunch without issues.
Morel’s Restaurant will be closed probably as from 8 February, not decided yet.

Another interview of Gilbert

After the lunch I was (once more) interviewed by CRI (China Radio International), that is now part of the new group China Media Group. Later more about that…