Another bite

By Xiong Yuqing Source:Global Times Published: 2014-4-16 21:08:01

A scene from A Bite of China 2 Photo: Courtesy of CCTV9

After a long wait of 542 days, A Bite of China returns this Friday. The second season of the world-renowned documentary will broadcast every Friday on CCTV1  to June 6, a total of seven independent episodes plus a behind the scenes episode.

The success of the first season helped establish the A Bite of China brand as a leader of cuisine documentary programs not just at home, but overseas as well. The documentary series has been broadcast during prime time on mainstream TV channels in many countries, such as Belgium.

High audience ratings have even led to rising popularity for Chinese restaurants overseas, said Hu Zhanfan, the director of CCTV, during pre-screening premiere of A Bite of China 2 in Beijing on Tuesday.

A warmer season

Compared to the first season, A Bite of China 2 incorporates more social issues and focuses more on human relationships. By telling the stories of Chinese families, audiences will also be able to see many hotly-discussed issues, including the pressure for children to enter higher education and children growing up in a single-parent family.

Hu explained that A Bite of China 2 is looking to interpret the profound connotation of the "China Dream." "People in A Bite of China 2 are working hard for a better life. The story of the Chinese people behind the food tells the story of their pursuit for happiness and the optimism they have towards life while showing their sincere emotions."

Chen Xiaoqing, the general director of the documentary series, said at the conference that they tried to present the same warm emotion among people from the first season, and that they succeeded even better at this goal in the second season.

"We hope that our audience will want to cook a dinner for their family after watching our show, as well as learn a dish from their hometown and cherish every meal and beautiful tiny detail of their lives."

Documentary with style

Every episode of season two has been directed by different directors, who were encouraged to develop their own personal style.

According to Chen, the whole team discussed what they wanted from this season together from the very beginning, communicating and exchanging  ideas about the stories they wanted to tell in order to harmonize the general theme of the season. "We keep two themes in mind: One is delicacies, talking about the origins of the food, how it's cooked and related traditions; the other is the human element, the people who are linked with the food," said Chen.

Most of the directors of each episode were born after 1980 and have broad comprehensive backgrounds. The director team even includes members from other TV stations. As such the creative team of A Bite of China 2 was able to incorporate styles of other film types into the documentary.

Deng Jie, director of season two's fourth episode, also works for the documentary channel belonging to Shanghai TV. As a lover of Japanese and Hong Kong movies, she added a taste of ethnic family films into her episode.

"Chinese audiences will see many familiar scenes in this episode that we experience almost every day. In our mind, food and family are often banded together, because one of the basic functions of cuisine is maintaining human relationships. Through many different table manners, you can see how Chinese people deal with their family," said Deng.

The second episode "Xinchuan" (Inherit by heart) starts with a story of a family of chefs in Shanghai who have dedicated themselves to food for five generations and have earned a great reputation in local chef circles. Director Chen Lei tried to make the episode seem like a gangster movie, adding original music written by Roc Chen, to make the documentary feel more dramatic.

Deng's episode tells the daily stories linked with food, which are very close to ordinary Chinese people's lives.

"All of us have worked on movies or TV for many years. Some of us have focused on movies while some were producing documentaries in different fields, such as economy or science," Deng told the Global Times.

This diverse experience helps the show be more than just a documentary.

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