The honour is part of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards programme, sponsored by S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna and organised by William Reed Business Media.
Li will be presented with his award at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony on 24 February 2014 at Capella Hotel, Singapore.
At Family Li Imperial Cuisine, Li continues the recipes and cooking methods originated by his great-grandfather, Li Shunqing, who oversaw the imperial kitchen in the Forbidden City during the Qing dynasty. After retiring from the royal court, Li Shunqing recorded details of the imperial menu, noting the ingredients and culinary skills, and recalling the Empress Cixi’s favourite dishes.
Respecting the legacy of his great-grandfather, Li safeguards the time-honoured recipes that his family has preserved for four generations. The additive-free cuisine showcases the finest natural ingredients and flavours, focusing on harmony and purity of taste. Dishes are patiently cooked over a gentle oven fire, replicating the traditional practices once employed in Empress Cixi’s kitchen.
Li helped establish the first Family Li Imperial Cuisine restaurant in Beijing in 1985, later opening satellite restaurants in Melbourne, Tokyo and Taipei. In 2006, Li was appointed Technical Consultant for the Family Li Imperial Cuisine Shanghai, as well as for the Tianjin branch, opened two years later.
More recently, in 2010 Li opened the Family Li Imperial Cuisine restaurant in Beijing’s Shunyi district. A graduate of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology with a degree in Interior Design, Li was also responsible for the restaurant’s emperor-worthy interiors.
From this Beijing base, Li trains apprentice chefs to work at the Shanghai and Tianjin branches, and test-trials the thousands of imperial recipes in his collection.
Reviving China’s lost cuisine also requires innovation, creative flair and an in-depth knowledge of ingredients. Since some of the centuries-old recipes include ingredients that are no longer available, or comprise endangered species, Li searches for modern equivalents that embody the original flavour without compromising the quality.
The Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award is voted for by members of The Diners Club® World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, comprising over 900 international leaders in the restaurant and culinary industries.
Acknowledging the award, Li said: “It is truly a great honour to be recognised by my peers. The award inspires the team at Family Li Imperial Cuisine to continue our efforts in maintaining traditions and sharing China’s culinary legacy around the world.”