The story appears on

Page B2

January 27, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » People

Duo providing dynamic dining

OFTEN dressed in formal suits, Siem Bierman and his business partner Onno Schreurs, both hailing from the Netherlands, are the brainchild behind the popular Shanghai Restaurant Week event.

Of Dutch-Indonesian descent and a speaker of six languages, 30-year-old Bierman has relished Shanghai's international environment and dynamic business culture from the moment he arrived in China.

Bierman remembers the early spring day in 2004 when he landed in Shanghai, to begin a successful work placement with the JW Marriott Hotel chain.

"When I sat in a taxi and passed the Lupu Bridge from the Pudong International Airport, the city surprised me. It's amazing," he recalls.

The challenge of life in Shanghai intrigued him, and after completing his master's degree in international hospitality management at ESADE University in Barcelona, he relocated to China in 2006.

After working in corporate real estate for two years, he decided to follow his passion for hospitality. Together with Schreurs, who came to Shanghai in early 2006 after a decade of hospitality success in Amsterdam, they started their own business.

The pair founded the hospitality consultancy Schreurs & Bierman, and have been responsible for operating several successful venues in the city.

Set to take place between March 7 and 13, the city's third Restaurant Week provides a chance for Shanghai diners to get out and try something new.

Fifty restaurants join in this time, with nearly 20 percent Chinese restaurants.

Returning restaurants include The Peninsula's Sir Elly's and Yi Long Court, M1NT, Moonsha, as well as the winners of previous Restaurant Week Awards: Palladio and T8. These favorites will be joined by Table No. 1, Isola and Danieli's.

The full list of participating restaurants will be revealed by February 22, when reservations can be made online at

The concept, wildly popular around the world and now an established experience in Shanghai, will see the featured restaurants serving special three-course dinners and lunches at a set price.

Chefs will create unique menus exclusively for the Restaurant Week diners.

"We were amazed by how much the chefs and managers at the restaurants went out of their way to create very special menus for Restaurant Week diners. We think it brings the Shanghai dining scene closer together," Bierman says, when he reflected on last year's event.

After diners have visited the restaurants during the event, they are invited to give their comments on the website. The three best restaurants are awarded prizes.

"There are many awards in the restaurant industry, but we think ours is 100 objective. They are based on the feedback of consumers, not gastronomist judges," says Bierman.

His involvement in working with restaurants and hotels extends as far back as he can remember, from helping to prepare recipes for his family's successful Indonesian catering company to his time serving dinners at Restaurant Claudius in his hometown of Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

"I am proud of those early experiences - they allowed me to get an inside view of the mechanics of how a restaurant works, to get to know people on all sides of the industry, and I believe this has laid strong foundations for my chosen career," he says.

There are five members in the current team in Shanghai, busy with restaurant events.

Besides Shanghai Restaurant Week, they also organize a dining event called Hungry Mondays.

Every Monday, they highlight a mid- to high-range restaurant in Shanghai. The chosen restaurant then offers a three-course dinner for 98 yuan. Diners can only take advantage of this offer by booking online.

"My passion is the art of hospitality, cooking, eating and being in restaurants and hotels," says Bierman.

He adds he wants to contribute his passion and efforts to the Shanghai restaurant industry, but not only by attending social events for foreigners.

Many foreigners who have been in Shanghai for a long time may have similar feelings to Bierman and Schreurs about the big changes of this city - not merely the construction, but the local citizens.

"Shanghai is becoming more and more international, like those metropolises such as Hong Kong. Now it's easy to find local people speaking fluent English," says Schreurs. "Local people are no longer as surprised or curious to see foreigners as they were many years ago. They are already used to it."

At the beginning of their life here, both men failed to arrive at their correct destinations, because of language difficulties with their taxi drivers.

Now they can understand and speak basic Chinese, but the environment in Shanghai has also changed.

"We believe that many foreigners had similar experiences when they came here earlier, but now it hardly happens, especially since the World Expo Shanghai last year," says Bierman.

Living alone in Shanghai has also provided Bierman with a story to tell.

One day he woke up in his apartment unable to breathe, the result of a collapsed lung. He was admitted to hospital and stayed there for 10 days.

"It's then you start to realize that being in China can feel quite far away from 'home'," he calls.

Bierman says he loves this city and its residents for their passion for hospitality.

"Choose to be happy and enjoy everything that you attract due to your positive attitude toward life and the things and people around you" is his life motto.

Bierman and his partner don't open restaurant themselves but help with design, marketing and managing.

When a new restaurant opens, they wait for three months and then go for a try. They keep trying two to three times a month to see if the restaurant can maintain stable high standards in all aspects.

"The competition in the Shanghai restaurant industry is so fierce - super high rental prices, the loyalty of both customers and staff, and so on," Bierman says.

"We have our criteria to pick a restaurant for our list that guarantees good quality for the consumers."

Siem Bierman

Nationality: Dutch

Profession: Entrepreneur in the hospitality industry

Age: 30


Self-description: I love life and art, especially the art of hospitality. I always did and I am hungry for more.

Favorite place: I am an outside person. I just love seeing Shanghai and being outside on a summer day on my electric scooter.

Strangest sight: I participated in the marathon in Shanghai last December. It was a big disappointment and a weird way to finish a marathon to me.

Motto for life: Live the here and now, and of course, eat well.

Worst experience: One day I woke up in my apartment without the ability to breathe, suffering from a collapsed lung. I went to hospital and stayed there for 10 days.

How to improve Shanghai: The traffic in Shanghai is hectic, chaotic and also very dangerous. It is an obstacle for me because I can not arrive at the restaurants I like on time. Everybody should somehow receive (at school) an official traffic-rules course and pass an exam for a traffic license before participating in traffic.

Advice to newcomers: Try to find out and realize that being in China is a possibility to enrich yourself. Do not be arrogant and think it is the other way around. Learn the language.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend