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Cardiff Character:Matthew Sun

Matthew tells his hospitality management career from HongKong to UK

18 years after graduating from North East London Polytechnic, Matthew Sun gave up his job as the lobby manager in a four-star hotel in his hometown HongKong, and immigrated to Cardiff with his whole family in 2003. Currently running a small Chinese restaurant, Matthew enjoys life here and feels “lucky to do what I like for my lifetime.”

Matthew had studied and worked in hospitality management for 26 years. He first came to UK in 1979, when HongKong was experiencing an economic boom. He considered hospitality management very promising: “There was a shortage of hospitality professionals in HongKong and I thought my social skills suited me working with people, so I chose to stay in lobby management.”

After studying in UK for 6 years, Matthew went back to Hongkong and practiced hospitality management. “Fortunately, I learned a lot of experience from my mentor and was gradually promoted to the lobby manager position of a four-star hotel.”

But good jobs always come with high stress and fast life pace. “I began to miss the cozy life in UK, and the most important is that high education quality and stable living conditions make it a suitable place for children.”

Matthew started to find a job in UK and noticed that a Cardiff-based Chinese restaurant, Pearl of the Oriental, has a vacancy. “I had been to Cardiff when I studied in UK and its bay attracts me and reminds me of Hongkong.”

“Managing a small restaurant is the same as working in a four-star hotel.” Matthew says, “Cost control and standardization play a significant role in management. Cooks are required to ensure that each dish of stir-fried beef with potatoes has 8 pieces of beef every time. We can’t lower the standards because we’re a small restaurant. Substandards uncomfort customers and harm the restaurant’s reputation and benefit in the long term.”

Due to depression, Matthew left Pearl of the Oriental 4 years ago and tried to run his own Chinese take-away business. “I’m the purchasing staff, cook, and delivery person all in one. My business is located in Bridgen, about 40 minutes from Cardiff. In order to ensure all the ingredients are fresh, I have to return to Cardiff to purchase food from wholesale stores every other day, and load 300 pounds each time.” Matthew finally closed his take-away restaurant despite its smooth running. “I worked from 7 am to 11 pm, and once I even didn’t see my son for a week due to busy work.. A life without spending time with my family deviates from my purpose of immigration.”
Matthew was asked to manage another Chinese restaurant, Little Tiger. “Running a restaurant is different from managing one, but what is common is, we should always comfort customers.” Matthew says. Restaurants may encounter customers complaining about dishes, “I will re-cook the dish for them or treat them a free dish. We should let our service live up to what they pay for.”
Matthew is proud that his management has put the restaurant back on track. What is more, as a normal middle-aged man, his daughter’s entering Cardiff University to start freshman life exhilarates him. As he describes, “It makes me convinced that coming to Cardiff was a wise choice and I enjoy what I like to do.”