The food of Macao, China, is touted as the first-ever fusion cuisine. Located just 35 miles west of Hong Kong, Macao’s geography positioned it to be an ideal international trading port and ultimately beget over 400 years of cultural interaction between Portugal and China. Because of Macao’s Portuguese history, Macanese cuisine is a combination of ingredients and cooking techniques from Mozambique, Goa, Malaysia and Indonesia in addition to Portugal and China. It's essentially a road map – or boat map, more accurately – along Portugal’s historic trading routes.
Despite its unique history, Macao is relatively unknown to Americans. We strive to change this, every year developing new, creative programs to introduce Americans to Macao. Our goal is always to inspire travel.
In September 2017, we brought a literal taste of Macao to the U.S., debuting a Macao food truck in New York City. The five-day pop-up food truck toured Manhattan, sharing iconic Macanese egg tarts and pork chop buns with New Yorkers. To bring even more of Macao’s personality to the event, we held vibrant lion dance performances twice daily to excite and capture the curiosity of passersby. Throughout the event, our team shared all that we could about the destination, from personal memories to the latest travel news and offerings.
We reached tens of thousands of people during those five days, via the truck itself and through promotional efforts on NBC’s New York Live, social media, and with the help of the strong public relations efforts of our NY-based PR team.
And of course, through the food.
When planning for this event, we wanted to ensure that the Macanese food presented was delicious and authentic – the latter paramount to both the client and us. The development of the perfect pork chop bun required a full team effort because it had never been done before in the U.S., and the delicate combination of flavors typical of Macanese food can be challenging to communicate verbally.
Carman Chan is our marketing manager for the Macao Government Tourism Office in the U.S. Also, she’s from Macao, so she knows a thing or two about pork chop buns. Carman deduced that in order to create the perfect pork chop bun, we needed our food truck chefs to taste one.
Over the summer, Carman was in Macao hosting a tour operator familiarization trip. While she was there, she picked up a pork chop bun directly from the source, froze it and brought it to our test kitchen in Los Angeles. All it took was one bite. Taste buds translated into technique, and the food truck chefs created the first-ever authentic Macanese pork chop in the U.S.
Back in New York, we couldn’t wait to fire up the grill the first day of the Experience Macao food truck event. As the scent of pork marinated in Portuguese herbs, spices, soy sauce and Chinese wine wafted through the air, we knew we had it made. New Yorkers of all ages eagerly stood in line to taste their first Macanese pork chop bun and egg tart, snapping photos and learning all about the destination in the process. We were thrilled by the positive reactions and also by the support from the local Macanese community in New York, who said that our samples tasted like home.
When people asked where they could find a second helping, we told them the truth: in Macao!