Mao Mao Chong takes out top awards in Beijing


Stephen Rocard, artist, cocktail connoisseur, pizza chef and co-owner of Beijing bar, Mao Mao Chong, speaks to Sophie Loras about his life in the Capital.

Mao Mao Chong bar meaning ‘hairy caterpillar” is yet another of Beijing’s hidden gems. And like many of the Capital’s hutong bars, half its charm comes from its secret location (off one of Beijing’s better-known hutong laneways, Nanluoguxiang). The bar’s small, warm, ambient environment, leaves one feeling like a regular from the very first visit. Mao Mao Chong is more than a bar. The art work of the bar’s Australian co-owner Stephen Rocard, inspired by his travels through China and love for his wife Stephanie, adorn the walls of this intimate, but very Beijing, little watering hole.

Every visit here is unique. One night, the team might be launching their well-planned and conscientiously-named spring cocktail menu, another evening, it could be an impromptu

mmc-pizza03_webart-talk and auction, where patrons strip the walls bare and return home with a Beijing bargain. Having won numerous accolades for its pizzas, Mao Mao Chong also has a loyal support base, there for the great food and the warm friendly atmosphere.


Most recently, the bar has been awarded more than 10 local accolades for its drinks and pizza including in Beijing’s The Beijinger awards in May when it took out Best Hutong Bar; Most out Standing bar/club of the year; Best Value; Best Cheap Drinks; Best Bartender of the year – Stephanie Rocard; Best Cocktail Selection; Best Creative Cocktail for its Mala Mule and in Beijing’s City Weekend Reader’s Choice awards for Bar of the Year; Best Hutong Bar and Best Pub Grub.

For Stephen and Stephanie, the culmination of bringing Mao Mao Chong into being, has been a beautiful and very China–inspired experience.

Stephen, who hails from the small town of Mt Macedon just outside of Melbourne thought his break would never come after holding several exhibitions in artist run spaces and even a piece chosen for a show in the National Gallery of Victoria. He first came to China, like so many other foreigners, to travel and fund the adventure teaching English.

“It’s a country of extreme diversity and is experiencing major change in many ways which to me sounded like a travellers dream country,” says Stephen.

“We are all influenced by what’s around us so I suppose China has influenced me in many ways I didn’t even realise.”

ABF media

mmc_stephen_and_stephanie_webHe met Stephanie, his now wife, in her home city, Zhuhai, Guangdong in 2007. She was the inspiration behind the name Mao Mao Chong after a trip to Yuannan’s beautiful Tiger Leaping Gorge when they came across a Mao Mao Chong (hairy caterpillar) on the trail.

“Steph freaked out a bit when she saw me admiring it. I told her there was beauty in the Caterpillar and it would one day become a butterfly. From that day on I have been Mao Mao Chong,” he says.

*Pictured: Stephanie Zhou and Stephen Rocard with Stephen’s Love in the Time of Bird Flu.

Mao Mao Chong began as a T-shirt enterprise during the Beijing Olympic period.

“We needed a name for our brand so we went with the Chinese name given to me by Stephanie, Mao Mao Chong.”


After enjoying the t-shirt experience, making a little money and then being left with a lot of t-shirts, Stephen and Stephanie hunted around for a small shop space. They opened Mao Mao Chong Bar and Pizza at its current location on Banchang Hutong in December 2009.

Stephen uses Chinese text in some of his pieces (hand written by Stephanie) and other subject matter, including travel photographs of his China travels for inspiration for some of his works.

“What I love most about China is the diversity of culture, landscape, environment, food, people and life in general. A trip to China is always rewarding in one-way or another but China can also overwhelm you,” he says.

“Beijing, like the rest of China, throws up weird and wonderful sights and experiences nearly everyday. It’s a centre of so much culture and I especially like the shape its new architecture is taking. But even more I love the old city of Beijing, you definitely know you are in China and amongst living history.”


Mao Mao Chong

Open everyday except Tuesday 5:30pm until 12am.

12 Banchang Hutong (between Jiaodaokou Nandajie and Nanluoguxiang), Beijing.

T: +86 138 1035 1522 (Chinese) / +86 159 9264 6024 (English)



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