Chinese foodies fall in love with expat pasties and cream teas

Published:  14 Jun at 6 PM
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A former Royal Marine Commando with a love of the traditional tastes of Cornwall is now the highly successful proprietor of Dongguan’s cream teas and pasties eatery.

Alan Stroud has lived in China for the past 20 years including a stint in Hong Kong, and has always admitted to a craving for traditional British delights such as Marmite, meat pies, tangy English cheeses and, of course, Cornish pasties. Whilst working in Kunming, he met up with a good number of expats who also missed pasties, giving him the idea of marketing them one day. When his office moved to Dongguan, a factory city with a large number of UK expatriates, he put his plan into reality.

When he and his Chinese wife opened their store, they displayed the British, Cornish and Devon flags outside to advertise their new enterprise, but were told by a feng shui man the Cornish flag had to be removed. Bad Feng Shui obviously didn’t happen as the business took off and is still expanding. The big surprise came when the city’s many Chinese with international travel experience flocked to the store to enjoy Cornish pasties and cream teas as much as the British expats.

Overwhelmed by the demand from Chinese gourmets who’d fallen in love with the treats on their travels, Alan decided to employ a pasty-maker from the home country to train his workers. He placed ads in various West Country media and was hit by a tsunami of replies. The successful applicant, Clive Marren, was an experienced baker and fit Alan’s needs exactly. New equipment was purchased and installed, the staff were trained, and ‘Alan’s World’ was on the map.

Alan’s next idea was to import traditional West Country cider as an agent for Sanford Orchard, a decision which proved very popular with his regulars. Nowadays, he’s sending frozen pies and pasties to British-style pubs in China, selling between two and three hundred cream teas and pasties every week and considering expanding with two new shops. Over the past two years, he says, it’s his Chinese customers who’ve helped take the business to the next level as they’ve already tasted his specialities on their travels and want to introduce their friends to them once they’re home.
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