An Investigation on Cultural Cuisine of Mainland China: Management Implications for Restaurant Operators

An Investigation on Cultural Cuisine of Mainland China: Management Implications for Restaurant Operators

Angelo Camillo (Woodbury University, USA) and Loredana Di Pietro (University of Molise, Italy)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8606-9.ch003
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This chapter investigates the determining factors of the popularity of Italian cuisine in mainland China and attitude of restaurant patrons toward Italian cuisine. Published literature suggests that Italian cuisine abroad was first made familiar by Italian national who immigrated to countries in Europe, the Americas and Oceania. The growing popularity of Italian cuisine around the world today continues to shape the global evolution of ethnic cuisines because of its taste and simplicity of food preparation. Chinese patrons support this theory however; they find that Italian restaurants in China have expensively priced menus, and that they doubt the authenticity of Italian food preparation and question originality of Italian ingredients being used. These perceived negative factors identified could hamper this world-renowned cuisine from sustaining its popularity in China. The study used an online survey methodology and applied statistical analysis techniques to determine the factors relative to the popularity of Italian cuisine in mainland China and to the attitude of Chinese restaurant patrons. The results will contribute to the body of knowledge of hospitality marketing and tourism related studies and will help hospitality operators and future investors of new restaurant ventures in the decision making process whether to invest and operate an Italian restaurant in mainland China.
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Historical records show that food has always played an important role in the cultural evolution of mankind (Camillo, Kim, Ryan and Moreo, 2005). Eating culture, rituals, and food preferences based on environmental and social conditions emerged steadily over time (Camillo et al., 2005). Societies, in turn, adopted specific food preferences according to taste, environment, and local economy. Foods and drinks have become culturally symbolic and eating habits have evolved to reflect people’s own tastes and preferences (Camillo, Connolly & Kim, 2008). Italian food culture based on traditional Italian cooking has evolved into one of the world’s most prevalent. Italian cuisine, with its adaptability in preparation, has become the most popular cuisine in the world. Despite rapid changes in international trade and profound lifestyle changes, Italy remains unsurpassed in its culinary traditions and accomplishments. Since China opened the doors to international trade, Chinese consumers have been exposed to both Italian cuisine and Italian food and beverage products. With the onset of mercantilism, restaurants have gained popularity across Asia. Although the concept of globalization was non-existent centuries ago, many indigenous foods and cooking styles, such as Italian were exported from one country to another by merchants (Gernet, 1962; Wang, 1982; West, 1997). Clearly such historical trends have significantly affected people’s eating habits. Since the late 1980s a large number of Italian restaurants have opened across mainland China. Italian food and beverage exports to China tripled in just a few years. From 2008 to 2009 alone exports in this sector increased by 18.26% (ISTAT, 2008). This is despite total exports declining by -5% due to the recent global economic downturn (ICE-Istituto del Commercio Estero, 2010). This paper analyzes the popularity of Italian cuisine in mainland China and proposes useful recommendations for hospitality operators and future restaurateurs regarding ethnic cuisine trends and the evolution of Italian cuisine in mainland China.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Consumer Choice: A term usually understood as a problem-solving and decision-making sequence of activities, the outcome of which is determined principally by the buyer's intellectual functioning and processing of information.

Cultural identity: Is the identity or feeling of belonging to, as part of the self-conception and self-perception to nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, generation, locality and any kind of social group that have its own distinct culture. In this way that cultural identity is both characteristic of the individual but also to the culturally identical group that has its members sharing the same cultural identity.

Convenience Sample: Convenience sampling, as its name suggests, involves selecting sample units that are readily accessible to the researcher. It is also sometimes called accidental sampling and is a form of nonprobability sampling; that is, each member of a population has an unknown and unequal probability of being selected. The advantages of convenience samples are that they are relatively inexpensive and, by definition, easy to access. Sometimes, this form of sampling may be the most efficient way.

Determinants of Cuisine Popularity: Italian cuisine is characterized by its simplicity, taste and variety. In addition, dishes are prepared with only four to eight ingredients. The main factor is the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Ingredients and dishes vary by region.

Country of Origin (COO): Literature suggests that country of origin (COO) can have a ‘tremendous influence on the acceptance and success of products’.

Pasta Primavera: Is a dish that consists of pasta and fresh vegetables. A meat such as chicken can be added, but the focus of primavera is the vegetables themselves. The dish may contain almost any kind of vegetable, but cooks tend to stick to firm, crisp vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, peas, onions and green bell peppers, with tomatoes.

Consumer Behaviour: Is the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society.

Food Choice: Factors that guide food choice include taste preference, sensory attributes, cost, availability, convenience, cognitive restraint, and cultural familiarity. In addition, environmental cues and increased portion sizes play a role in the choice and amount of foods consumed.

Cognitive Psychology: Is the branch of psychology that focuses on the way people process information. It looks at how we process information we receive, and how the treatment of this information leads to our responses. In other words, cognitive psychology is interested in what is happening within our minds that links stimulus (input) and response (output).

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