6th May 2001
"Table for 5,000 please!" If you want to take a few thousand of your closest pals to dinner, the Royal Dragon - the world's biggest restaurant - can seat you. "We've had over 10,000 here at one time for receptions," managing director Teera Parinyanusorn says.
At the Royal Dragon, waiters fly through the air to deliver food. "We seat 5,000 at one time for meals," added Teera. "In our busiest season we serve 140,000 meals a week!"
The gargantuan eatery is in Bangkok, Thailand - and is the largest on earth according to the "Guinness Book of Records". It covers 8.35acres - bigger than six football fields. The whopping staff of 1,250 includes 541 waiters, 120 chefs and six full-time reservation clerks. The parking lot has space for 750 vehicles.
The restaurant even has its own five-storey apartment building next door where employees live. "We can't risk chaos from personnel being delayed by traffic jams or tropical rainstorms," explained Teera.
Every night, fleets of trucks bring a gigantic inventory of supplies. Over 10,000 items of live seafood - including fish, crabs, lobsters and shrimps - arrive by tanker. Daily deliveries include 3.5 tons of rice, 2.5 tons of meat and more than two tons of fresh vegetables - plus a long list of other ingredients.
In the giant kitchen, chefs whip up Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Western dishes.
There are dining areas in air-conditioned indoor pavilions, outdoor terraces, concrete boats built on an indoor lake, plus a circular, seven-level pagoda that seats 1,000.
No matter where guests sit, their food is guaranteed to arrive within 15 minutes. "Even though we're big, we're efficient," said Teera.
There's live entertainment, but waiters themselves provide the Royal Dragon's most dramatic spectacle. Dressed in traditional Chinese costumes, they race on roller skates as they deliver sizzling platters to hungry diners. And the showstopper is when waiters fly - up to 200 yards, 20 feet in the air! "It's quite clever," explained waiter Somyuth Yoteepaha. "We wear harnesses with hooks. With a tray of hot food in one hand, we skate from the kitchen to one edge of the lake and skilfully hook onto a continuously moving steel cable which carries us to the opposite side of the lake.
There we instantly unhook ourselves with barely a pause and continue skating to our destination. People are absolutely stunned to see us flying through the air as steam rises from the platters. It's best at night when the cable is barely visible."
According to Teera, the idea for the Royal Dragon "was sparked by Chinese action movies: ones set in old-time China where characters have magical powers, can fly and hokey stuff like that. We tell people to suspend belief, relax and enjoy".
Leading Thai newspaper columnist Teerapong Ekachote, who loves the Royal Dragon, recalled: "One time I saw a waiter speeding round a bend in the path. He was too fast.
Both he and a platter of lobsters flew into the air and, boy, he made
one heck of a splash into the lake. It was real movie-style slapstick.
The crowd loved it and cheered loudly. But someone sure missed out on getting
their order within 15 minutes that night!"
By Ruhanie PereraJust like the pretty maid we sang about during our nursery rhyme days many of us would like to quip 'my face is my fortune'. That much was obvious at the Crescat Lobby on April 29 when Yvette Llerena presented a programme on 'Skin Care Awareness'.
Yvette Llerena is on the staff at Neutrogena International and is based in Los Angeles, California. Attached to Neutrogena International since 1984, she has 15 years of experience in the skin and hair care industry. Even prior to that her interest in skin care has taken her to numerous dermatology and cosmetology courses and conferences. In addition to that she has even completed internships with physicians. Thus although she is not a physician she is not only well trained, but has a greater understanding of the subject she has been interested in and dealing with for so long.
"What I enjoy most about the job is providing generic skin care information," she says explaining that she is more inclined to helping the individual according to their needs. She even writes a question and answer type of column titled 'What's new, what's true and how to' so that she can reach out to more people.
So what is it about the skin that interests her so much? "The skin is the house we live in. In fact it is the largest organ, with our face being the part that many of us, quite naturally, pay the most amount of attention to. Our consumers spend a lot of money on maintaining good skin simply because we all want to have healthy looking skin.' And Yvette is there to help consumers achieve their goals.
"There is no big secret behind looking great. It's just maintaining a healthy, daily skin care regimen which includes cleansing, toning, moisturising and additional treatment for protection against sun damage," says Yvette.
At present she devotes much of her time to speak on the importance of 'photo protection', mainly because "sun damage is the number one reason for aging of the skin and the importance of being protected from it cannot be emphasised too much". According to her what many of us fail to realise is that sun damage is accumulative over the years and that incidental UV light reflected off buildings or filtered through sky lights are just as damaging as intentional UV rays we are directly affected by. She stresses the fact that there is no such thing as a healthy tan and going out and soaking up the sun is just not conducive to good skin health.
At the skin care awareness programme she conducted at Crescat, Yvette advised everyone present to use a sun block, especially since we live in a tropical country. There are many products available which contain what is known as Sun Protection Factor or SPF. "SPF is the measurement of time a person can be in the sun unprotected before they start to burn multiplied by the time stipulated on the product. For example if a person can be in the sun for ten minutes without burning and the product is marked SPF 30, that means that individual can be in the sun for a period of 300 minutes without experiencing any sun damage," she explained.
She added that there were different types of sun block available, namely water proof, sweat proof and rub proof.
When choosing for one's self it is important to take into consideration your skin type, the geography of your area, the length of time you spend outdoors and the type of clothing you wear.
Going over some of the common skin problems many Sri Lankan women are faced with, she names hyper-pigmentation which is blotchy uneven skin tones, sun spots, excessive oiliness and obstructive pores as some of the most common. However, many of us don't exactly know what our problems are and so can't seek treatment for it. But after last Sunday it became clear that things were going to change.
What was special about this programme was not just Yvette's presentation but also the launch of the 'skin analyser' which she operated for those present. The skin analyser is a machine which allows a person to visualise the density of their skin using a black UV light. This gives a sort of 'house of horrors' feeling and is a virtual house of horrors when you notice the flakes and spots that are not visible to the naked eye. But no worries, this facilitates the process of identifying your problems so that you can do something about it. And that's when you find yourself on the road to beautiful skin.
"Healthy skin is beautiful skin," says Yvette, "if you just take time to maintain your skin you'll look radiant and bright and you'll be quite an attention grabber."
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