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Food Made Good HK
Photograph: Courtesy Food Made Good HK

Sustainability pioneers shaking up Hong Kong's restaurant industry

Get to know the chefs and businesses awarded at Food Made Good Awards 2021

Tatum Ancheta
Edited by
Tatum Ancheta
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Hong Kong has one of the most diverse restaurant industries in the region. From local cuisine to international flavours, the city is filled with options. But a dynamic food scene also means a variety of sustainability challenges. "The important thing is that businesses can take action with the right support," explains Food Made Good HK's CEO, Heidi Spurrell. Food Made Good HK is a sustainability consultancy supporting food service businesses and their operations. They also run the only sustainability F&B Awards in Hong Kong. Initially launched in the UK, Food Made Good Awards has been running since 2012, and previous winners include British chef and restaurateur Jamie Oliver and environmental activist Greta Thunberg.  

Food Made Good HK
Photograph: Courtesy Food Made Good HKHenderson Land Group's head of strategic marketing Jessica Chong, Food Made Good HK CEO Heidi Yu Spurrell, and Miramar Group's head of hotels and service apartments Alex Wassermann

Held on November 24 for its second year in Hong Kong, the award ceremony, sponsored by Henderson Land Group, recognised the industry's sustainability accomplishments during the past year. "The Food Made Good Awards shout about the best in tasty and sustainable dining in Hong Kong," Spurrell shares. "They put the spotlight on [Food Made Good] members who have been making brilliant strides in the past year, from high street to high-end restaurants, and we are promoting these and their impacts," she adds.  

Read below to learn more about Hong Kong's F&B sustainability champions.  

RECOMMENDED: Also, check out the best zero waste stores in Hong Kong, as well as our roundup of eco-friendly and sustainable Christmas gifts for the holiday season.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Wine bars
  • Central

Somm is The Landmark Mandarin Oriental's casual restaurant and wine bar that serves up a diverse and extensive selection of over 1,600 wines and sakes. For the past year, the establishment has implemented a holistic approach in incorporating sustainability practices across their business which earned them the Food Made Good Business of the Year award. One of the restaurant's main features is their wines-by-the-glass programme carefully curated to showcase the craftsmanship of organic, biodynamic, and sustainable winemaking. 

  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Soho

Mana! is one of the city's 'fast-slow food' movement torchbearers. Over the past year, they have gone above and beyond in implementing effective practices across all environmental areas, including valuing natural resources, sourcing from sustainable supply channels, and managing proper waste systems. These efforts earned them the Environment Award from Food Made Good. Mana! implements a comprehensive compost and recycling system that diverts over five tonnes of food waste, including kitchen cuttings, coffee grinds, juice pulp and customer leftovers, away from landfill each month. Along with their commitment to zero food waste and zero plastic practices, the team behind Mana! continuously raises awareness of sustainable causes through their educational programmes, including public talks, events, and documentaries. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Causeway Bay

One of the most important sustainability practices in the F&B industry is ensuring that the products being sourced are obtained from responsible and sustainable ways, which includes social, ethical, and environmental factors involving workers and farmers.

Plant-based all-day eatery Sakti Elixir at Fivelements Habitat, winner of the Food Made Good's Sourcing Award, is a pioneer in its sourcing processes. Culinary curator Arnaud Hauchon has inspired a progressive mindset among staff and guests by embracing and promoting the 'Food is Medicine' ethos, offering a farm-to-table dining experience that promotes seasonal produce sourced from Hong Kong farmers who practise sustainable and organic agriculture. 

Belu
Photograph: Courtesy Belu

Belu

Plastic makes up the third-largest component of Hong Kong's waste, and single-use bottles contribute to 3,200 tonnes of waste that HK's hospitality industry generates daily. This is where Food Made Good's Supplier Award winner Belu enters the picture. The company is a social enterprise that provides globally trusted filtration technology and systems that enable restaurants to bottle their own still and sparkling filtered water on-site using reusable, recycled glass bottles. This process not only lessens single plastic use but also creates lower carbon emissions for the industry, which Belu accurately reports annually to keep themselves and their partners accountable.

During its first year in the city, Belu has already installed 15 water filtration systems that include venues The Upper House, Mandarin Oriental, and Dough Bros. What's more, the company also donates 100 percent of their net profits to WaterAid, the leading global charity that provides clean water and toilets to communities around the world. 

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  • Shopping
  • Kennedy Town

SpiceBox Organics founder, chef Punam Chopra nabbed Food Made Good's One Planet Plate Award for creating the Breakfast Burrito, a sustainable and planet-friendly dish rated according to its low carbon footprint, sustainable seafood sourcing, more vegetable offering, local and seasonal use of products, and low waste production. Chef Chopra has transformed the humble breakfast burrito into a vegan and vegetarian offering at one-stop organic café and marketplace SpiceBox Organics. The dish, made with biryani rice, vegetables, and mint chutney, uses multiple ingredients that can be used in more than one dish, which limits food wastage.  

  • Restaurants
  • Central

The recipient of the Good to Go Award, plant-based and chef-driven restaurant Treehouse pioneers eco-conscious dining in the city. The restaurant believes that dining should be sustainable, ethical, modern, and fast, and these practices are integrated well in their operation. Treehouse sources its ingredients through ethical channels and practices sustainable waste management by using compostable takeaway packaging. What's more, they've added big compost bins outside the shop to encourage customers to recycle their compostable packaging and leftover food. The compost is then handed to local Hong Kong farmers and growers.

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Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) 
HKUST’s sustainability/net-zero office director Davis Bookhart and The Hong Kong Chef Association’s Anita Cheng I Photograph: Courtesy Food Made Good HK

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) 

Building facilities and upper management play a significant role in promoting and supporting sustainable practices within their premises. HKUST, an international research university in Clear Water Bay peninsula, is awarded the Landlord Award for integrating sustainability into the facility's operations and instilling sustainable practices for its F&B tenants.

HKUST is aiming to achieve a 75 percent reduction in the landfill waste it produces by the year 2028. Initial efforts included recycling, food waste composting, and preventing waste from entering the campus. HKUST's many restaurants contribute 40 percent of the total waste generated by the campus, so its efforts focus greatly on reducing waste coming from its F&B facilities. Aside from training the staff about the importance of food waste separation and recycling, HKUST added some kitchen renovations that included centralised dishwashing and food separation facilities. Cameras have also been installed above bins to help identify waste types and enable better data analysis. The management also made it compulsory for new F&B tenants to present a proper waste separation and recycling system as part of the tendering process. 

Circular City 
InvestHK’s head of tourism and hospitality Sindy Wong and Circular City’s founder Tim Parker I Photograph: Courtesy Food Made Good HK

Circular City 

Circular City, the winner of Food Made Good's Innovation Award, is a social enterprise developing reusable tech products aimed at reducing single-use plastic waste in the city. Founded by Tim Parker, Circular City focuses its efforts on waste reduction, starting with reusable and returnable takeout containers.

The company launched 'Choose: Reuse', a system where F&B outlets use reusable containers provided and washed by Circular City. The model starts with customers paying a $30 refundable deposit for the cups through their Octopus cards. After use, borrowers can return the cups at any smart return station or partner outlets. The electronic reader counts how many cups a customer borrowed and its collective waste reduction impact. In just six weeks of its pilot programme that ended in August, the total tally of cups borrowed came to a total of 1,017.  

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Paddi's co-founder Kisum Chan
Paddi's Kisum Chan I Photograph: Facebook/TheRiceInc

Paddi's co-founder Kisum Chan

Recipient of the Food Hero Award Kisum Chan is the co-founder of Paddi, a social enterprise created to empower Southeast Asian rice farmers by helping them farm efficiently to improve yields, earn a better income, and reduce food waste in the rice industry. Together with three of his fellow University College London (UCL) classmates, Chan started the project after winning a US$1 million grant in the 2018 Hult Prize (a global social entrepreneurship competition for university-level students). This became the launchpad for Paddi, the world's first socially responsible rice brand. Twenty percent of the profits from Paddi go towards funding the installation of rice-drying machines that serve smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia. The company also ensures a fair price for farmers by taking out middlemen in the supply chain. This year, Paddi saved close to two million rice meals and has impacted 200 farmers and their communities.  

Though Haoma is based in Bangkok, this urban farm and zero-waste Neo Indian restaurant have received the Food Made Good's Society Award for serving as an inspiration to the F&B industry. The restaurant earned this year's award not only for its sustainable sourcing practices but also for its social initiatives during the height of the pandemic.

Founded by chef Deepanker Khosla, the restaurant's philosophy revolves around regenerating the ecosystem, food chain, and the community. The restaurant boasts an aquaponic system that allows them to harvest its own fish from a reservoir that holds 150,000 litres of rainwater, which then feeds the plant in its built-in hydroponic garden, supplying its restaurants with 40 variants of plants, herbs, and edible flowers. The restaurant also recycles all its solid waste into fish food and compost. During the pandemic, the restaurant raised over one million baht, which allowed them to distribute over 200,000 free meals and create paying jobs for unemployed workers affected by the crisis.

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