After going from an anonymous worker to a viral star overnight, China’s most famous noodle puller now says that all he wants is to return to his old, humble life of pulling noodles.
Back in February, a video showing 31-year-old Tian Bo at work went viral on Chinese social media. Tian’s spirited dance moves and flirty facial expressions turned him into a celebrity overnight with admirers flocking to the shop in the ancient town of Huanglongxi near Chengdu to watch him prance around.
Soon, Tian began receiving a variety of offers from companies around China hoping to capitalize on his popularity. Tian asked for a raise from his boss, but negotiations soon broke down with the shop owner claiming that Tian had let all the fame go to his head saying that “he was not the noodle master that he once was.” Only 20 days after becoming a viral sensation, Tian quit his job.
After that news broke, the public began turning on the noodle pulling maestro. Later, he performed at one event, receiving 4,000 yuan in two days, but he came to the realization that it wasn’t the life he wanted for himself. With calls and offers coming in from around the country, Tian ignored them all, spending a few weeks living at home, playing on his smartphone, taking walks and thinking about his life.
Gradually, he came to realize: “I just want to be an ordinary noodle chef, I don’t want to be a viral star.”
Over the long May Day holiday weekend, Tian started work at his new shop called “Huanglongxi Longevity Noodles,” located only 300 meters away from the noodle shop he used to work at, going back to his roots with his signature fanciful dance moves and coquettish glances to the crowd. His cousin helps him run the shop and says that Tian’s whirlwind ride to fame has made him more mature mentally, giving him a different perspective.
Tian agrees, telling the Chengdu Commercial Daily that before his mind was muddled and he was walking around in a daze, but now he can see things clearly. He says that all he wants to do is pass on the tradition of making noodles, he doesn’t mind that he’s only making 5,000 yuan a month because that’s a good salary for an ordinary noodle puller.
In the wake of Tian’s superstardom, more shops have popped up in the area also selling longevity noodles, a single noodle that is stretched to crazy lengths by the chefs. The shops are filled with “Tian Bo wannabees” dancing and prancing around, hoping for their big break.
But Tian says he isn’t afraid of the competition. “They are who they are. I am who I am,” he says.
[Images via NetEase]
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