Feeding Hong Kong Invites Eight Chefs To Cook and Learn about Food Insecurity Ahead Of Lunar New Year
Usually armed with the latest in kitchen technology, eight of Hong Kong’s pre-eminent chefs–with seven Michelin stars between them–had to contend with simple hotplates and rice cookers in a spartan Yau Tong industrial unit one recent morning. It was all for a good cause: to discover the reality of food shortages amongst the city’s neediest demographic, especially ahead of the Lunar New Year, traditionally a time of prosperity and abundance.
Food writer Chris Dwyer worked with Feeding Hong Kong, a local charity and food bank founded in 2011, to invite Vicky Lau from Tate Dining Room, Vicky Cheng of Vea, Nate Green from Henry, Agustin Balbi from Ando, Grégoire Michaud from Bakehouse, Jowett Yu from Ho Lee Fook, Uwe Opocensky from Petrus and Olivier Elzer from L'Envol.
The day began with an eye-opening primer on the city’s food landscape, where one million people live under the poverty line and struggle to afford nutritious meals, despite the 3,600 tonnes of food waste that are sent to local landfills every day. The chefs then learnt about Feeding Hong Kong’s operations, which involve the redistribution of 250,000 meals each month to some of the poorest in society–a demographic that has no doubt expanded due to the continuing effects of the pandemic.
The chefs then helped to prepare 500 food parcels for the upcoming festival, before trying their hand at the challenge of cooking meals using some of the 69 tonnes of produce rescued from the landfill by Feeding Hong Kong each month. Among the ingredients they had to work with were rice, oil, instant noodles, dried mushrooms, canned meat, fish and vegetables, fresh greens and basic condiments.
“When 1 in 3 seniors and 1 in 5 children in our city fall under the poverty line of just HK$4,500 per month, it's clear that [Feeding Hong Kong’s] workload is immense and only increasing with Covid. At the same time, many in the F&B industry have recently lost their jobs and are now themselves impacted by food insecurity,” says Dwyer.
“Hearing all this, I hatched a plan to bring some of our best chefs and Instagrammers to experience Feeding Hong Kong and spread the word that anyone can volunteer. They all agreed immediately, were brilliant on the day and have now forged relationships with Feeding Hong Kong that will endure.”
If you would like to help alleviate food poverty, Feeding Hong Kong offers several options for you to make a difference, whether that be donations in the form of funds or food, volunteering your time, or–for those working at a restaurant, food wholesaler or distributor–arranging the redistribution of surplus stock to its Yau Tong headquarters. To find out more, head to feedinghk.org.