Zach Lewison came to China to cook, nearly a decade later he continues to find all the ingredients for a happy life in Beijing. The 36-year-old, Jacksonville, Florida-born chef is the latest subject of our "Beckoned to Beijing" series. Below he tells us about breaking ground in one of the city’s most popular restaurants, the unique benefits that Beijing offers his four-year-old son Jim and his wife, Tobey, and more.
I came to Beijing in 2008 to be the opening chef of Union Bar and Grille. After my contract finished, I realized I loved the city so much that I couldn’t even think about moving back.
I always knew that Beijing was a big city, but I never imagined it was this big! Nothing surprises me anymore, but I do love the fact that everyday I can honestly say: "Well, I have never seen that before."
We decided to use a Xiaomi air purifier for our home. It’s cheaper, does the job, and – best of all – I can control it with my phone.
Being from a mixed family, we always have trouble with going back to the States; visas, entry and exit permits, and more are hassles. Since we want Jim, our son, to see my parents twice a year it can get rough and expensive.
That said, there are so many benefits of raising my son here. I’m happy he gets to see and be part of China, since he is a little halfie himself. That is something that not a lot of American born Chinese get to do.
We go to Fuxing hospital for general stuff, and to The Beijing Children’s hospital for Jim. From what I hear, Fuxing has some of the city’s best obstetricians, which is crucial because we have another baby on the way in August.
Jim goes to Pre-Kindergarten at a small school in Tongzhou, next to his grandfather’s house. We are still looking at schools for when he starts kindergarten. We really like WAB – go tigers! We have a lot friends with kids who go there and love it.
My advice for any family coming here is: keep in mind that your life is about to get turned upside down. Everything you knew is going to be different. The best part of that is you’re going to have a lot more time together as a family. There’s no Sunday football like back in the States, no Thursday night TV, that kind of thing. You get a lot more time together. So you should just cherish it, because you’re not going to always get that time, especially with small kids.
Photo: Zach Lewison