TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—South Beauty (俏江南), a Sichuan cuisine restaurant franchise based in Beijing in China, founded by Taiwanese celebrity Barbie Hsu's (大S) mother-in-law was reported as having allegedly unhygienic practices by an undercover Chinese journalist.
The posh restaurant chain, founded by the 58-year-old Zhang Lan (張蘭) is worth an estimated RMB 8 billion (US$1.16 billion), markets itself as the "LV brand of Chinese cuisine," but was caught on camera serving customers at one restaurant in Changsha (長沙) in China putrefied fish instead of fresh fish.
One customer reportedly vomited and had severe diarrhea after consuming the rancid fish.
When the undercover reporter asked chefs how the managers dealt with the customer complaint, the chef replied: “he got a free meal.”
Other unhygienic practices by chefs at the restaurant listed by the reporter included the reuse of leftover chili peppers from dishes, and using dirty mops that had just been used to scrub the floor to clean woks.
The reporter also noted chefs were not wearing gloves or face masks when handling food, and even stole bites from customers' orders.
Working environment conditions in the restaurant's kitchen were filthy, with thick layers of grease and grime covering the kitchen walls and floors.
The joint investigative report was launched by Chinese media BTime (北京時間) and Contemporary Business Daily (當代時報) .
In response to the accusations, the restaurant manager at Changsha admitted to unhygienic practices in August 2016, but claims the restaurant has since made significant improvements.
Wang Xiaofei (汪小菲), Chang's son wrote on a Weibo post that his mother and co-founder of the restaurant chain stepped down from the company board in 2014, and the franchise is being managed by Hong Kong investors.
"The restaurant revenue plummeted, and there are so many management issues, even the founders have left the company," wrote Wang. "The greatest victim is the 16-year-old local restaurant's brand."
Wang manages one Sichuan cuisine restaurant in Taiwan under a different brand name Jiangnan Hui (江南匯) in the Xinyi District of Taipei City.