During the novel coronavirus outbreak, diners were forced to retire to their own kitchens with many attempting to replicate their favor restaurant's dishes, some successfully, others not so.
But now, Sam's Club, a membership retail brand, is offering restaurant quality meals and recipes in store. With the resumption of cooking demonstrations, many members are relishing the return of "the good life".
➤Master chef cooks at the club
Li Min sprinkles a thin layer of salt over a fresh frozen steak before placing it into a frying pan. The marbling slowly melts as the steak sizzles under high heat. Thirty seconds later, he turns it over, lowers the heat, and sprinkles a pinch of black pepper and adds butter, rosemary and garlic.
For the next four minutes, the chef turns the steak every 30 seconds. He then lets it rest for 10 minutes. With the juices locked in, he slices ready to serve.
Dark brown and crisp on the outside, tender on the inside; this is the way that an Australian grain-fed Angus rib-eye steak is meant to be enjoyed.
You may think he is preparing a dish to be brought to a table at a fine-dining restaurant, but you would be mistaken. Instead, the steak is being served at Sam's Club in Shunyi district of Beijing.
Chef Li is a full-time associate at Sam's Club. He cooks on the spot while sharing cooking tips with members.
At Sam's Kitchen, members can not only taste the great products from demo, they also want to learn how to prepare an exquisite meal. They want to know which wine to pair with what dishes, and what is the perfect dessert to finish, according to Sam's Club.
Li has more than 20 years of experience in cooking management in five-star hotels and is certified by Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in France. In his opinion, the soul of good food lies in the ingredients and Sam's Club always delivers.
"The core value of my job is to share my cooking knowledge about premium Western-style food and help our members to use the best cooking method to make the most out of the ingredients to make amazing meals." Li said.
"At Sam's Club, the meat is comparable to that served in fine dining restaurants." he added.
All beef imported by Sam's Club comes via cold-chained logistics and uses blockchain technology to track its temperature and status every step of the way before it arrives in the country.
Salmon fillets caught in icy waters of Atlantic, provide high-quality protein, enriched vitamins, as well as polyunsaturated fatty acid, the company said.
In May, Australian brown tiger prawns were introduced at Sam's Club for the first time. With meaty texture and good flavor, they have become popular and they are suitable for people of all ages.
Offering its members more than 4,000 quality items, the membership retailer said it wants to promote a premium lifestyle to its customers, encouraging them to "eat different and live different".
➤Key to making a difference
By leveraging its global sourcing and supply chain, Sam's Club offers a plethora of products, many of which are offered for the first time or are exclusive to Sam's Club.
This includes the fresh food with the private brand Member's Mark representing high quality locally sourced and imported items at great value, and direct imports from over 30 countries. It's all aimed at improving members' lives, Sam's Club said.
Andrew Miles, president of Sam's Club China, explained what drives the Sam's Club approach.
"If you ask customers what they want, they will only tell you what they already know; the secret is that you need to keep giving customers something they have not thought about," Miles said.
"Taking the time to understand the market and customers is one thing. How to find these unexpected things and establish a unique product selection is the key to making a difference."
As a pioneer in operating a club model, each Sam's Club has an average shopping area of more than 20,000 square meters, with 9-meter-high ceilings. It welcomes its members and provides them with an exclusive shopping experience. Trial eating stalls can be seen everywhere. The shopping carts are bigger than normal and can seat two kids for members and their families to enjoy shopping.
By setting a membership fee, Sam's Club is able to tailor its product range to middle and high-end customers.
The Sam's Club app allows members to easily navigate a smooth user interface that is intuitive and available in both English and Chinese.
Using the app, members can order most of their ingredients with the click of a button and enjoy same-day delivery. Frozen and fresh seafood ordered online by members are cold-chain transported throughout the process.
With the philosophy of pursuing a better life, Sam's Club said it continues to offer its members a shopping experience like no other, from being able to shop for the finest ingredients to learning to cook amazing dishes with star chefs.