It's a family affair for Food Tube stars
Eat and Drink
Cooking is in the blood for sisters Amy and Julie Zhang, who are in the top five of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's search for a Food Tube star.
It runs like clockwork. Three woks all going at once.
Maria Zhang adds a dash of soy sauce, stirs one, then tosses chicken and vegetables in another as the lunchtime queue builds. A mix of passersby and devoted regulars line up.
Pinned to the side of the stall is a poster, asking market goers to vote for "Chiwi" sisters, Amy and Julie Zhang.
The pair, who call themselves The Dumpling Sisters, have made it into the top five of Jamie Oliver's search for a Food Tube star, which received more than 250 entries from across the world.
The family's pride and support is obvious as they prompt customers to vote.
The whole family has a passion for food.
Their mother Maria juggles cooking several dishes on the woks, as father Pei Wen works the deep fryer and brother Justin, 18, manages the barbecue and steam buns.
Their 20 years of experience make it look easy.
When Maria, Pei Wen and Amy moved to Christchurch from China in the late 1980s "in search of a better life" they set up a fish and chip shop before they decided to take their food to the street.
Justin, who helped translate for his parents, said back when they first started there were only 10 or 15 stalls at the market.
"It wasn't very easy back then but they kept doing it and doing it.
"The customers keep you going, and the other stallholders. It's kind of like a community after a while."
The market has grown over the years, and so too has the stall's reputation.
"Mum and Dad have customers that are third generation," he said.
Jan McKay, who also has a stall at the market, is a regular. Her husband Geoff just can't get enough of the Zhangs' cooking.
"I used to pack lunches . . . but this is what my husband often likes to eat . . . He has it most weeks. He always has the same - chicken fried noodle. It's a good price and it's a good meal, and [Maria] she's very friendly. She always recognises you."
Amy and Julie grew up helping with the stall.
The recipe that earned the sisters a top spot in Oliver's competition was inspired by their mother's cooking.
The sisters, who are based in London, said it still had not yet "sunk in" that they had made it into the finals.
"It's kind of a dream at the moment," said Amy.
"No one watched our videos apart from Mum, Dad and Facebook friends."
The winner of the contest will be decided by the entry that receives the most "likes" on You Tube. Part of the prize includes the winning entrants' cooking videos featuring on Jamie Oliver's Food Tube channel. Voting closes on September 22.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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