20 People changing the way we eat and drink - 4
Katy Yung & Stephanie Tan
Redistributing the global food balance
Table For Two is built on a philosophy of sharing. The social enterprise was set up in Japan by Masa Kogure in 2007 and has since expanded to cover cities all across the globe. The idea is to address the global food imbalance by involving the community at a tangible level. The organisation partners up with restaurants to create healthy, low-calorie meals and when diners order from these TFT-branded menus, part of the proceeds goes towards providing school meal programmes for undernourished children living in Africa and China. “It’s much more effective than adding a dollar to your final bill,” says Stephanie Tan, who co-founded TFT’s Hong Kong chapter with Katy Yung.
Despite only launching at the end of last year, the Hong Kong division has already formed partnerships with close to 30 restaurants and retail outlets including Happy Veggies, Pure Bar + Restaurant and FoFo by el Willy. “Young people have a lot of pent-up desire to give back to the community,” says Yung, adding that something like TFT fits right into a city like Hong Kong where people are eating out all the time. Still in its early days, Tan and Yung are focusing on getting the word out there so more people know about TFT’s activities. As Tan puts it: “We have to find innovative ways to reach out to the community.”
Table for Two
Janice Leung & KC Koo
The city’s best food bloggers
In today’s social media-dominated dining scene, everyone is swapping restaurant recs or food photos on blogs, Facebook, Twitter
or Instagram. But there was a time when pulling out a camera at the dinner table would elicit weird looks from those around you. Just ask Janice Leung and KC Koo, who’ve been uploading their eating exploits long before tweeting became the big bird it is today. Leung’s been writing under the name e_ting since 2004 and her English blog and Twitter page both attract thousands of followers who read her up-to-the-moment views about the city’s latest ramen shop opening or the newest hidden private kitchen.
Koo’s online legacy dates back even further. A famous personality among Canto-speaking foodies, Gourmet KC (his online handle) got started by writing ruthlessly honest reviews on the online restaurant directory Openrice.com. Since writing his first review in 2001, Koo now has more than 6,500 reviews on OpenRice, as well as a very popular food blog which receives more than 3,000 hits every day.
Both Leung and Koo are also working on other things beyond the cyber world. Koo published his first Hong Kong restaurant guidebook last summer and rolled out a Macau follow-up edition earlier this month. As for Leung, she’s partnered up with Springalicious’ Vincent Poon to launch Island East Markets later this year – a giant green market in Tai Koo featuring local organic produce, craft items and eco-focused talks and demos. It’s definitely something to get buzzed about.
Bobsy & Christian G Mongendre
As the founder of Bookworm Café on Lamma Island and Life Café in Soho, Bobsy is perhaps one of the city’s most iconic eco-conscious entrepreneurs. He’s been pioneering ethical, green eating for the past 15 years so when he calls his latest venture ‘an evolution of how food is happening’, we believe him.
“We’re introducing a new form of eating,” he says about Mana! – a slow food concept he founded with French-trained chef Christian G Mongendre. The new restaurant focuses on raw, vegetarian dishes served in quick, fast-food style. Their signature flatbreads (or ‘flats’, as they’ve dubbed them) are baked in the central brick oven and spread with za’atar (a blend of herbs and sesame) before being topped with a selection of good-for-you ingredients. “A flat satisfies the same sort of cravings as a pizza – but without the grease,” Bobsy says proudly, adding that Mana! also offers vegan desserts that are gluten and sugar-free. But it’s not just about serving delicious, pizza alternatives; the core concept of Mana! is to promote the idea of a responsible food culture. “We source most of our ingredients from local farms to reduce carbon footprint,” explains Mongendre. They also use furniture made from salvaged and recycled wood, as well as eco-friendly containers, cups and straws that are 100 percent biodegradable. Even the cooking oil is recycled to produce handsoap.”Food is the number one source of pollution in the world,” Bobsy says, which explains the message they’re spreading: “We have to eat like it matters.”
Mana! Fast Slow Food
92 Wellington St, Central, 2851 1611; www.mana.hk