Tuck Chong Sum Kee Bamboo Steamer Company – revisited
Hugh Farmer: In Newsletter 9 posted on 9th Nov 2013 I included the following:
The Tak Chong Kee Bamboo Steamer Company [sic]
Producing a wide variety of handmade steamers, as far as I know this company is the last remaining such enterprise in Hong Kong. Located at 12 Western Street, Sai Ying Pun, a range of other products is also on display often made with bamboo left over from making the steamers.
The craft was brought to Hong Kong from Guangzhou by manager Raymond Lam’s father in the 1950s. Eventually Raymond inherited the skills and can make a regular-sized steamer in about 15 minutes.
The familiar problems of rising rents and a shortage of skilled labour caused most of the production to move to China. However, even today Lam still makes tailor-made special orders for clients himself. The company’s major orders come from both local and overseas Chinese restaurants.
When asked if he is worried that the craft will be lost, Lam says he thinks of what he does “purely as a business, as a means of survival, rather than a means of retaining any cultural tradition.”
Whenever I go in I wonder whether on my next visit I will find a shop selling mobile phones.
I re-visited the company in December 2013 with my wife and and a friend Christine Wiedemann who was visiting us from Austria. Christine took the following photos:
See : Further information about the company including: history, current production, about hand- woven steamers and difficulties in making them, risks to this industry and steamer making procedure with photo gallery.
This article was first posted on 17th May 2014.