DREAM CUISINE starts with an intriguing shot of an elderly woman watching a jar in which snakes are curled up in a turbid liquid. A little later, she turns out to be the 78-year-old cook, Sato Hatsue. Hatsue is officially recognised as a master of the traditional cuisine of Shandong, the Chinese province where she grew up. With her husband, with whom she has lived for forty years, she runs a restaurant in Tokyo, where she also gives cooking lessons. The Satos adhere strongly to the old traditions of Shandong cuisine, which forbids, for example, the use of sugar and lard. It is Hatsue’s dream to return to China and teach there, but her husband does not fancy the idea of moving back at his old age. When the couple visits the prestigious Oriental Gourmet College in Shandong, it is clear that much has changed since Hatsue’s younger years. Although they are received respectfully, she regrets to discover that in modern Shandong cooking sugar is actually used. But Hatsue, undaunted, is determined to prevent her beloved traditional Shandong cuisine from disappearing.