Jam-packed days in Taipei!

The last few days leading up to the new year have been jam packed with activities for the Chazen crew in Taiwan. We all landed in Taipei on Wednesday December 28th, and while it would be impossible to share all the moments of our trip so far here are some key highlights.
12/28: “There is a Chinese saying that the best boss is like a servant” – CEO of Franz Collection

According to Forbes Magazine, the fourth most desired item for young Chinese is fine porcelain: vases, tea ware, decorative ornaments, etc. Our first company visit was to Franz Collection, a company founded in 2001 that has quickly risen to prominence as one of the best suppliers of luxury fine porcelain. Their mission is to bring the beauty of ancient Chinese porcelain to the modern world. Their designs focus on highlighting the beauty of nature and Eastern symbolism. All items are handmade and even most of the “simple” items may take 3-4 months to produce.

We had the opportunity to speak with the founder and CEO who not only shared with us his ability to grow the business over the past 15 years but also how he aspires to maintain an open and non-hierarchical work culture. Two key facts:

  1. They believe technology and innovation are key for maintaining their competitive advantage – for years they have perfected their own 3D printing technology that allows them to build molds and designs more quickly and with more delicate elements that can then be translated into a handmade collectible
  2. Their employees are part of a “roundtable” – they don’t have hierarchical titles and all employees have a seat at the table. This encourages innovation and respect

12/28: “Our chefs are trained for 2 years so they can perfect their dumpling folding” – Din Tai Fung, top restaurant chain known for their soup dumplings (xiao long bao)


12/28: Taipei 101

Our second company visit was to Taipei 101, the most iconic building in Taiwan and home to a shopping mall, offices, and observation deck. When it was built, it was the tallest building in the world and has won multiple awards for its construction and green / LEED practices.

12/28: “Your biggest asset and risk is your reputation” – Stanley Ko, head of Hasmore Restaurant Group and CBS ‘99 alum

Stanley gave us insight into Hasmore – a family business started by his father that manages top restaurants in Asia. They partner with global chains like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, invest in new ideas and concepts, and build their own top-rated restaurants with Michelin chefs. He generously treated us to a 7-course dinner at Ryu Gin, an acclaimed Japanese restaurant led by Chef Yamamoto.

12/29: Morning cultural stop at the Martyr’s Shrine

12/29: Garage+ / Epoch

Epoch and Garage+ is a nonprofit that incubates startups and promotes entrepreneurship in Taiwan. The founder established the organization in hopes of finding a way to push Taiwan beyond cheap labor and manufacturing, which was its primary source of growth in the 1980s/1990s.

12/29: VR 

In 2016 HTC launched VIVE – their new virtual reality (VR) brand. We got to test out their games and take a tour of their beautiful building. We met with VR Chief of Staff Jimmy Feng and VP of Sales and Operations Victor Hu. They gave us insight into the future of VR and how it can be used not only in media/entertainment (e.g. Gaming) but also to improve healthcare (surgeons at UCLA use VR technology to visualize a neural MRI and CAT Scan before surgery in order to plot out the best entry site and incisions during the operation).

12/29: Alumni sponsored dinner by Shirley Wang (CBS alum) and Walter Wang (Formosa Group)

We sat around two large tables and each had our own hotpot set (traditional Chinese meal where you cook a variety of meats, seafood, and fresh veggies in a fragrant soup broth directly at the table)

And we haven’t even gotten to the “fun” stuff yet – more to come soon!

Melanie Chow ’17

Taiwan & Singapore – Kicking Off!

A lot of CBS students decide to join a Chazen trip to get insight into a new culture – they want to be immersed in a new language, new spices, new traditions that they have not yet experienced in their daily lives. And these are all excellent reasons!

But I decided to go a different route – to explore a culture I am immensely familiar with, but in a unique and exciting way. I am Cantonese and have traveled extensively through mainland China and Hong Kong, but have never been to Singapore or Taiwan. This upcoming Chazen trip, which kicks off in one week, will be a way to take a culture I love and see it through the eyes of my classmates and amazing trip organizers, Eric Yen ‘17, Evelyn Wuu ‘17, and Jayburt Tang, ‘17.

We’ve already had a taste of how great this trip will be from the kickoff dinner they organized for us a few weeks back. We went to Han Dynasty, a restaurant I’ve been to many times before. But while I often struggle with deciding what to order and properly pronouncing dishes I only half remember how to say with my elementary Chinese, Eric, Evelyn, and Jayburt quickly took the helm and ordered us a huge feast. They chose dishes that were mostly new to my classmates – things like chili oil dan dan noodles, beef tendons, double cooked pork with fermented greens, pickled vegetables, etc.

So what are we excited for?

  • Exploring Taiwan, from the startup culture to modern pottery to automated manufacturing to fine dining
  • Ringing in the new year while watching fireworks shoot off of Taiwan 101, one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers
  • Visiting Singapore Airlines and learning about the luxury hospitality and real estate scene in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands, a 5-star hotel
  • Traditional Chinese meals from peking duck to local Taiwanese street food to multi-course meals in a palace museum…

and the list goes on…!

Melanie Chow ‘17
Singapore & Taiwan