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fendi_pilot

Working in Asia

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After spending 5 months in all over Asia last summer, I'd love to move there on a more permanent basis and work for a year or two. Specifically, China - Beijing, Shanghai, or Tokyo, or possibly Bangkok. I'm wondering if anyone has any experience or advice. I'm assuming that in any big city there are upscale Western food type restaurants, possibly at Hotels, or JG extensions etc.. where I could fit in well. I'm not expecting or looking to necessarily slave away at a ramen place or have chinese dudes laugh at my mediocre dumpling chops - although that might be a fun challenge. I've read and heard many stories of people going to France or Italy to work/learn but not much on Asia. Also wondering about work permits / visas as well. Thanks for any personal experience, advice or research ideas...

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i looked in on getting a work visa for japan after doing a culinary exchange program there for awhile ... apparently its real difficult ... you can how ever stay for 90 days with out problem fly out and fly back in and be able to stay for another 90 day ... ive been told you can do this about 4 or 5 time with out being pulled up by the government


"None, but people of strong passion are capable of rising to greatness."

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If you have professional experience, get in touch with the various international culinary recruiters. They mostly offer hotel jobs at management level (chef, sous chef, pastry chef) and a 2 year contract is typical. If you can get a job like that they will take care of your visa.


Edited by pastrygirl (log)

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Both J.Stevens & pastrygirl are correct and make some good points. I have been working almost two years in Shanghai, China at this point. Starting out first studying the language and then picking up a job from there (which is not necessarily the route you want to take).

I would imagine that Western style/run hotels is one of the better routes to go, typically offering a couple year contracts for Western management/leadership positions (as mentioned by pastrygirl). They will take care of any Visa requirements that you need. For reference I am currently working at a small/mid sized restaurant and bar as a bar manager which also took care of my Visa requirements. There are smaller Companies similar to the one I work for that will also do the same. That being said, they often higher Western talent already in Country (often cheaper and quicker).

You are required to have a working Visa, no buts about it. And it seems what J.Stevens mentions about Japan is similar to China, anything other than a tourist Visa is not easy to come by, and a working Visa is a bit tougher still. There is a fair amount of paperwork that needs to be done, health checks, some more forms, and you must fly out of the Country (Hong Kong is okay) to register for a working Visa, which must be renewed every year, regardless of how long you have been here (my bosses have both been in China for over a decade). However after the initial go around, you don't have to leave the Country to renew, you can have someone stand in for you and renew in Shanghai.

Also, those local places you mention, at least in China, are not interested in hiring foreigners. Labor is cheap and plentiful for people who have grown up making their local fair all of their life. Without a doubt they don't want a foreigner telling them how to cook their cultural heritage.

On another side note, the World Expo is currently going on right now in Shanghai, and there has been an influx of foreign chefs that have been hired to run a number of the Pavilions food programs. There have also been a number of other locally based Western chefs that have been sucked over to run restaurants in and around the site which has put a hole in the talent for everyone not related to Expo. So there may be some people currently looking to fill positions quickly. There are a number of new hotel openings coinciding with Expo as well, to reiterate, that is a good place to start looking. With the growth that this city sees year after year, there are always other options popping up as well.

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Everyone, especially Adam - thanks so much for your replies. It's great to hear some details about Visa stuff and ideas - I didn't really know about international recruiters. I'll do some searching on that but would appreciate any leads if someone has them.

Adam, it seems like you were already in China before getting your job? Just curious what part of Shanghai you're in. I was in Shanghai last June and was amazed how much construction was going on along the river for all the Expo stuff. Both Shanghai and Beijing seem to have grow so much in the past decade. While my wife speaks decent Mandarin, my chinese is pretty limited but I'm assuming at many Western style restaurants and hotels that I could get away with this ? I'm not really sure how big the expat community is or how mixed the work situation would be but I definitely did not meet many people in China who spoke English. Any job I would take would most likely be for sometime in 2011, so not looking for specific openings right now but just trying to investigate possibilities and avenues of finding work. Thanks again.

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Yes, I was in Shanghai studying and completing an internship (in an unrelated field) before I started working in Shanghai.

I am working in the French Concession/ Jing an border, on Ju Lu road. The majority of the construction has and is still taking place in other areas of Shanghai, I'm in the middle of downtown so there isn't as much going on here as other areas. That being said, I can seem them building the new Shangri-La hotel from my apartment window. And you are right, the amount of construction and the pace at which it gets completed still boggles my mind.

Regarding language, you are correct in assuming that you don't need to be fluent, or in fact anywhere near it to work in a Western oriented hotel/restaurant. In fact, my Mandarin is still very poor. But I manage. There is also a large expat community in Shanghai which can help you to ease your way in. I am assuming the same for Beijing, though most likely on a smaller scale, but I'm not very familiar with up North.

When it gets closer to time to job hunt out this way, let me know, hopefully I can be of some assistance.

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