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Farewell BBITES – My Last Post

adiosamigos

Part 1 – Memory Lane

Dear BBITES Readers,

After nearly five-and-a-half years of Bakker’s Bites, the time has come for me to bid farewell to the world of food blogging.

In 2011, I was still an undergraduate student here in Hong Kong, dreaming of being published as a “food critic”. The first step I took towards achieving that goal was starting a food blog – and thus, BBITES was born on February 5th, 2011. My first taste of being published came in March, 2012, when Foodie Magazine featured a column that I wrote. I was so excited I wrote a post about it: Foodie Magazine – March Guest Column!

Page_1 copyMarch, 2013, was the next important date in my food writing journey: my first restaurant review was published in Time Out Hong Kong – and my first feature story in Crave Magazine.

Page_1Over the years, I’ve done reviews, travel stories and interviews on BBITES – and looking back, the posts I’m most proud of are my posts about the f&b industry in Hong Kong:

Page_3I also had fun sharing food facts and “philosophy” with you over the years:

Page_2And last, but not least, a trip down memory lane for BBITES’ annual bday posts (oops, I didn’t do a post for birthday #5):

That brings me to the end of Part 1 – Memory Lane. Last week, I had the good fortune of being invited to a presentation and round-table discussion on the future of food, and that’s what I’ll turn to now for my final BBITES post in Part 2.

Part 2 – TRENDxCHANGE: Food Future

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Last week, on Thursday, 21st July, I attended a presentation and round-table discussion led by French trend forecaster, Cecile Poignant. The title attached to this informative and interesting evening was “Food Future”, making it the perfect way to end Bakker’s Bites.

As it lasted two hours, I will limit myself to summarising the insights presented in Cecile’s keynote that struck me the most. After that, I will do the same with the answers given by four guests during a panel discussion.

PRESENTATION

Page_2 copy 2Cecile organised her presentation about food trends into four “stories”: Roots; Farming; Erotic; and Hybrid.

Roots

  • In response to our constant use of flat-screen devices, there is a return to texture and sense of touch.
  • Return to rustic aesthetics, and imperfection – with sophistication
  • Idea of taking time to create do things (e.g. Slow Food Movement in Europe)

“If you want to have the nutrients from an apple in the 1950s, you have to eat a hundred apples of today. So, because we made the selection to have the best apple for transportation, not for taste; because we made the best apples for conservation and not for nutrition, a lot of the things we eat today are not very rich in [nutrients]” – Cecile Poignant

  • Seasonal products and ways to conserve them for the rest of the year
  • Minimalism – people will eat less, but more well-chosen

“One of trends we hear a lot about is that people want to get rid of meat. I’m not so sure about that. What I know is that people are going to be more conscious: people are going to eat less meat, but well-chosen – they will know where it comes from.” – Cecile Poignant

  • Distancing from industrialisation – where everything is the same

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  • SILO Restaurant (Brighton, U.K.) is the first zero-waste restaurant
    • nothing thrown away
    • locally grown ingredients
    • furnishing/design elements all recycled
  • Awareness about food waste; a third of all processed food is thrown away

Farming

Page_2“I speak about farming, and I show you a photo of a city. This is not a mistake – it’s on purpose” – Cecile Poignant

  • 15 years from now: more than 60% of the world’s population will be living in cities
  • Growing food in cities means less conservation and more sustainability
  • Many chefs starting edible gardens on rooftops in urban areas
  • 1 in 4 people eat food produced in cities
  • Growing interest in green products, e.g. green tomatoes
  • Translates into dishes: softer textures, more green
  • Seaweed will become more important

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  • “Growing Underground” in London
    • business selling herbs grown in underground tunnel used as a bomb shelter in WWII.
    • constant temperature and LED lights enable growth
  • More people will raise their own chickens

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  • Hydroponic systems, like this one (above) by French designer
    • protoype / art project
    • grow things at home
    • uses symbiosis between plants and fish

Erotic

  • Health is important, but so is the “forbidden”
  • Relationship between food and eroticism
  • Huge comeback of mushrooms

Page_3“Mushrooms will do a lot for the future of mankind. Not only for food: you can make packaging [with them]. It’s under the radar, but a lot of people are looking at developing mushrooms than can eat the plastic we are throwing away” – Cecile Poignant

  • Fascination with black products (e.g. squid ink pasta) – which rarely occur in nature
    • also with burnt-out things, charcoal
  • Synesthesia: senses working together
  • Changing attitudes towards sugar

Page_4 copy 2“It might possible that in the next five to ten years, sugar is going to be seen as the tobacco of the twenty-first century.” – Cecile Poignant

Hybrid

  • “Food disruption” – reinvention of food

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  • 3D Printing; is in its infancy

“[3D printing] will change everything we know, every product we will touch. It’s going to change retail, the way we buy and share. It’s going to be huge. It’s going to change our lives in the same way that the internet has” – Cecile Poignant

  • July 25th, 2016: first completely 3D restaurant to open in London: food, cutlery, plates will all be 3D-printed

“[3D printing] is not very fancy, precise or refined yet – but we have to keep an eye on it. The future is always there. We are living in the future, we don’t have to wait for it” – Cecile Poignant

  • Nano-technology

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  • Idea of “post-food”; growing meat in a petri dish


Last Word

Page_5“From the beginning of humanity, we have always been trying to do things with our food: trying to find new species, create new varieties. This is not new. We love to invent things – we love tools and we love invention. The future can be very bright… it’s our responsibility to bring as much variety and possibility as possible.” – Cecile Poignant

ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSION

UntitledThe second half of the evening was taken up by a round-table discussion with four guests:

The topics I found most intriguing were: food waste, millenials’ habits, mainstream adoption and China.

Food Waste

Cecile Poignant (CP): Do you think people are ready to find value in waste food, and invest money to produce goods with waste?

Dr. Carol Lin (DR): I think the current trend is to utilise waste… we have so much food waste in Hong Kong – 3,600 tonnes per day – so that’s a lot. We could utilise it more to produce high-value [PLA fibre] textiles. Especially expired food from supermarkets and left-over food from restaurants.

CP: Larry, how do you react to the idea of zero-waste restaurants? Do you think it’s a good idea as an entrepreneur?

LT: In terms of food wastage, restaurants actually don’t waste a lot… because the food cost is managed very tightly… For us it was never a problem, we were quite creative in trying to use kitchen leftovers: we adopt homeless dogs, so we use it to feed the dogs. We are just starting now to try and be more sustainable; the leaders in Hong Kong, I think, are Mana and Grassroots Pantry. We’ve formed a group called “Hong Kong Zero-Waste Restaurant Alliance”. If you want more restaurants to embrace that movement, they need to see the benefit of it…as a revenue-generating initiative.

DR: The trend for utilising food waste to produce high-value PLA products has been a popular research topic in Europe for over ten years. In Hong Kong, we don’t have a lot of crops – but we do have a lot of food waste. So, I do think this idea could be implemented [well] in Hong Kong.

CP: What is the next step?

DR: I feel that apart from making textiles, this process could be used to make other products like plates, or chairs. We need input from various sectors: industry, entrepreneurs, business and policy makers to try to collaborate. Most importantly, we need the scientists and engineers to try and make this possible.

Millenials

CP: We know that millenials are very interested in food. Veronica, do you notice anything specific about this generation in their relationship with food? Are they more interested in where the food comes from and how it was done?

Veronica Yu (VY): I think locally, and for younger people in cities, food is more of a social activity. It’s about the look or textures that look good on Instagram, or are facebook-worthy. People who are looking more for organic food are people that are starting a family, or where there’s illness in the family and they want to rethink their diet.

Mainstream Adoption

Audience Question: I have a feeling the [consumers] that are represented in the points [that have been made so far] come from a very specific group of people at a high-income level. I wonder, what’s your stance on trends and changes in the mainstream area, such as dining chains?          

CP: The big companies are moving a lot. They’re not doing business as usual [anymore]. For instance, if you go into a Starbucks here, it’s absolutely not the same as in Paris, London or New York. Larry, what do you think?

LT: We want to raise awareness with our restaurants. We don’t want to serve the 1% of people who are already healthy. We want to convert more people who don’t [eat healthy]… we want to get them to change. We will always try to find ways to do it – we’ve spoken with different groups and chains and [have learned that] if the margin is there, they’re willing to do it.

China

Audience Question: I think the next decade will belong to China in exporting new ideas and traditions. In your view… how will China affect how the rest of the world will eat?

LT: I honestly don’t see China leading food innovation in the near future. A lot of [what China is doing] is more on the cosmetic / gimmicky side. For us, presenting a good meal comes from the source… I don’t see a lot of independent farmers being successful [in China] because there’s a lot of pollution, and farming practice is all over the place. Also, we’ve found that not all mainland visitors to [our Chinese restaurant, Sohofama], understand contemporary organic Chinese – they would prefer to try Western food.

UntitledCP: Yes, it maybe needs more time. There’s a problem of sourcing, and of maturity [of the market]. I think that the negative connotation of ‘Made in China’ will disappear – with time. We must remember that we are talking about long-term trends…

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There you have it, friends and readers, the future of food – and the end of my journey with Bakker’s Bites.

Thank you for biting along with me all of these years. If you’re wondering what creative project I’m diving into next, check out this link: surprise!

For the last time,

Bakker x

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SUPAFOOD – Soft Opening!

1Remember when I got a sneak peek into organic Chinese oasis, Sohofama? Well, the team behind Sohofama is back with something new – but this time it’s fast food. Organic fast food – a.k.a. SUPAFOOD2Yesterday I dragged along Molly, a foodie friend who’s been on a BBITES adventure with me before, to check out the first day of their soft-opening. Although the décor inside is still taking shape, the food was in full form – and we had lots of fun eating our way through their lunch menu.4Basically, there are salad box options – including pork, chicken and more – as well as rice box options, where you can substitute the rice with quinoa if you’re feeling extra healthy. Molly and I said “stuff that,” quite literally, and went for the rice instead.

The service was friendly and fast, leaving us ample time over Molly’s one-hour lunch break from the office to dig into the pretty huge serving sizes. Everything tasted fresh and refined. YUM!3Although we knew that we’d get pretty full from the two boxes (yes, we split them 50-50), we couldn’t resist trying one of the desserts on option: organic POWER BALLS (love that name!)supafood1They’re made out of coconut powder, flaxseed, oats and peanut butter. Texture: rich and sable-like; flavour: explosive! Haha!!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my preview of Supafood! BBITE you later 🙂

Bakker x

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Happy Mid-Autumn Festival !

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Happy Mid-Autumn Festival everyone!

Every year Victoria Park in Causeway Bay sets up a beautiful light display. This year was especially fun for me, because it had an old Hong Kong theme – including traditional HK food and restaurant references (see the “Sammy’s Kitchen” neon sign above?)

Enjoy the pics!
UntitledI know I’ve been terrible with updating the blog lately… I’m sorry! I promise to squeeze a few in before business travels at the end of October.

Bakker x
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In the Shop @ N*ICE POPS

Page_1 copy 2Summer is in full swing, and you’ll be glad you’re reading this because there’s a new kid (one year old!) on the block serving ice cold gourmet popsicles called N*ICE POPS.

I first came across their products at a Foodie pop-up event that I blogged about back in April, and knew I wanted to find out more. They launched in Summer 2014 and their world is only getting cooler (pun intended!).  Page_1 copyYesterday I visited their kitchen-slash-office space in Ap Lei Chau to interview founder Eddie Chan, so please dig in to the scoop below…

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 12.42.00 pmBakker’s Bites (BBITES) : What goes into your pops?

Eddie Chan (EC) : When we first started, we were naïve thinking that we could get all local, all organic fruits in Hong Kong. It didn’t turn out to be the case.

We do try working with some local farms; one of the first flavours we did was an organic beetroot and shiso, both of which we can get locally.Page_5When we see things that are nice and available, we’ll try to get it but for the most part it’s a trip to the fruit market or the wet market. We also have a few international suppliers across South-East Asia, and we’re using some peaches right now from the States.

The whole local thing was nice, but it’s really hard to get anything consistently in Hong Kong – it’s not happening right now.Untitled 3BBITES : I’ve covered Sohofama on my blog before, which also tries to source local-organic whenever possible, but they told me it remains a challenge. Would you say it’s getting easier over time to source locally?

EC : For produce, like most vegetables, it’s actually not too terrible. But we’re more fruit-based, and that’s different.

BBITES : Really? So sourcing fruits is more difficult than vegetables?

EC : Yeah, we can get some local bananas for example, and we’ve done dragon fruit before, although we eventually found the red Malaysian ones to be nicer. There’s some stuff, but sometimes they’re not the best.

BBITES : What do you do when you’ve found something that’s local and organic, but the quality isn’t living up to what you imagined? Would you then source from elsewhere?

EC : Yeah, for sure. We do actually have organic strawberries here in Hong Kong, but last season we kind of skipped over our suppliers to get them from the States because they had a bad harvest and they were tiny and bitter – just not useable. It happens.Page_5 copyBBITES : Ok, so when you’ve found the right produce you bring them to this kitchen. Then, is it a matter of just blending them together for the popsicles, or do you precook some things for the recipes?

EC : We do both. We precook more with our winter flavours or cooler weather flavours. For instance, we caramelised the banana before we put it in the pop for this one really popular one that we had.

We did an applesauce for an apple crumble pop before, too. For things like that we’ll do a little bit of cooking, but for warm weather it’s mostly straightforward.Page_2BBITES : How do you choose which recipes are for cooler weather versus hot weather, does that have anything to do with the Chinese philosophy of “heaty” versus “cooling” foods?

EC : Not really, although we should look into that. It’s more seasonal stuff, like apple sauce with cinnamon, or banana cream pies…art 3BBITES : Tell me more about the artwork in your kitchen. It’s awesome!

EC : Thanks! Well, from the beginning it’s been the branding. We always thought – well it was just me back then – that it would be nice to associate the brand with more of a handmade look and feel versus a corporate, clean-cut look.

Everything we do here, we do by hand and we wanted to have that association with street art, illustration and graffiti. Being a fan of street art myself, I thought it would be a really good opportunity to bridge that gap where it’s food but we can tie it in with that bit of culture.UntitledThe designer that helped me with the initial branding, Tim Wong, who designed our logo, he introduced me to some local artists from the Hong Kong street art scene, and we just went off from there.

Within the studio there’s four different artists’ work, and we actually have an artist – Bao, who’s a finalist in this year’s Secret Walls competition – helping us paint a freezer today in our friend’s studio downstairs, so we can go check that out later if you want.Page_3BBITES : Yeah, I’d love to see that. Do you have artists create images for specific pops, or is it just the workspace or freezer units? How does the artwork come into being?

EC : What we want to do is give the artists free reign, within a certain boundary. We’ve had certain artist friends do something that’s a little more adult than we’d like – we love it, it’s great, but our target audience isn’t just the cool kids and the adults. We have children and families and things like that. artWith the ice pop girl, there’s just a hint of that – a little edgy and borderline, but it doesn’t step over that boundary. I mean we’re selling ice pops at the end of the day.art 2BBITES : Your customer base is across the board then?

EC : In some ways, but we do target adults more than kids – we’re trying to get involved in a lot of parties this summer, for example – although there are more kid-friendly flavours in our menu now.

Some of our competitors are coming out the woodworks now, and they’re targeting the cutesy kids and stuff and that’s fine, it’s a big market, but for us that’s never where we want to go with our image and not with our products.

What we’re offering is a little more sophisticated in terms of taste and palate, with things like our boozy pops where we’re doing our own signature cocktails and not just copying existing recipes.

pops

BBITES : My flatmate wanted me to ask this question: how many alcoholic pops would it take to get drunk?

EC : I always tell people this when they ask: you’ll probably get brain freeze, or not feel your jaw or tongue before you get wasted on our boozy pops.

There’s about 3.5% alcohol, like a light beer, so unless you’re a complete lightweight you’ll be fine. We want people to be able to taste it, and not be wondering, “where’s the alcohol in this?”Page_3 copyBBITES : How often do you switch up the recipes, is it quarterly?

EC: Generally quarterly, yes. Sometimes it’s performance-based too. Things like our mango pop with watermelon, lime juice and a sprinkle of paprika, that one sells really well so we kept it on our menu.

But, in general every season you can expect a full menu change and even within a season we introduce new ones – so every other month. Now that we have more retail partners, we’re going to do more exclusives, too.Untitled 3BBITES : Favourite pop at the moment?

EC : Surprisingly, a very light one. It’s our green apple-cucumber-iced tea.

BBITES : Favourite pop of all time?

EC : Ooh… of all time? That’s a tough one. It’s a toss up between two pops we don’t do anymore but might bring back: an Old Fashioned pop with fresh-squeezed orange juice, bitters and bourbon; and one with oven-charred pineapples, a dark rum and vegan caramel.

BBITES : That sounds soooooo good!!!!!!!!!!

EC : Yeah, that was a favourite and was running for a long time, but as good as it is – and we do have requests for it – we want to keep things fresh and new. Untitled 2BBITES : Final question: how do you get inspired for new recipes?

EC : The inspiration comes from just loving to eat and drink. Maybe sometimes a trip to the market, you’ll see a fruit and think, “hey, never thought of using that before!” Most of all, though? Being a glutton…

BBITES : Perfect end to the interview, thank you so much!Page_2 copy 2Check out N*ICE POPS’ website or facebook for information on where to find them…

Thanks for reading!

Bakker x

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BBITES Mini-Post #10 x Foodie Market

1Spring is here and there’s fun events happening all over town. I went to a great one over the weekend in Sai Ying Pun: Foodie Market (as in Foodie magazine) at Opendoor Cafe + Courtyard.

2Just wanted to share some of the highlights with you via a few photos. So, please enjoy!4

The Foodie Market was spread out throughout Opendoor’s premises – with food stands inside, outside and upstairs. There was also some seminars and talks happening upstairs, but we (my friend Molly and I) focused on eating and drinking.
5I particularly enjoyed an alcoholic Sangria gourmet ice pop @ Nice Pops – and want to do an interview with them soon to learn more.. so hopefully that works out!
3Be back soon with more BBITES…

Enjoy the great weather in the meantime!

Bakker x
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Welcome to the Circus!

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Burger Circus is located at 22 Hollywood Rd.

If you’re a Central dweller or LKF crawler, you’re sure to have already walked past – and peeked into – Burger Circus.
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Isn’t it cute?!?! In the style of a classic American diner, Burger Circus serves exactly what you’d expect: burgers, milkshakes and fries.
3There’s fun details everywhere, from the menu holders to the staff’s old-school aprons and hats. Guests can choose between booth seating, or a spot at the bar.
4My friend and I ended up at the bar, and started with two shakes while waiting for our burgers.

The service is friendly and quick, so we didn’t wait for long. But long enough to both agree that the shakes were really good. There’s also some alcoholic milkshakes on the menu, but I’ll have to try that next time…

Topped with whipped cream and maraschino cherries, they were scrumptious and creamy 🙂
5The burgers, as you can see, are served in little paper boxes. I would advise to eat the burger using the box as a holder, because they are dripping with fabulous grease. Also, the bread is very fluffy and the whole thing is huge and quite difficult to eat by biting into it (without displacing your jaw, I mean).6Of course, to get the right photos, I took mine out of the box. Conclusion? –> Burger Circus is probably not the best place for a first date, unless you’re prepared to get really messy and have bits of food dangling out of your mouth 😀

7The menu has quite a few options, including chicken, and tuna burgers. I went for the Whole Show burger: beef patty, fried egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled beetroot and spicy mayonnaise.

It took a few bites to get into the spicy mayo in the middle, but boy was it worth the wait! A great combination in my opinion and, as a huge fan of beetroot, it was refreshing to see the underrated veggie make an appearance.

Overall the burger was really satisfying and hit the spot. Definitely a fan of the generous amounts of melted cheese oozing out of the bun. YUM.

Compared to a burger (similar price) I tried at Wan Chai’s Butcher Club a couple months ago, I felt like this one was better. And the awesome décor is just the cherry on the top!8On the other hand, while the sauce on the Circus Fries was very tasty (onion, cheese, and “circus sauce” reminiscent of “animal style” sauce from In-N-Out), I thought the fries weren’t thin or crispy enough to really blow us away.

After dinner, someone told me I should have tried the onion rings, which are great apparently – so now I’m living in regret.
9The whole experience was fun and fast – just like a simple burger joint should be. The convenience of the location, the irresistible design and feel-good burgers will have me back. Oh yeah, and it’s open till midnight EVERY DAY.

Bakker x

p.s. UPDATE (19/02/15) remember my post on the HK Beer Company? Well, Burger Circus stocks 4 of their drafts – so if you’re in Central and want to kill two birds with one stone, check them out! 🙂

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Bakker’s Bites – 4th Birthday!

1HAPPY 4th BIRTHDAY to Bakker’s Bites! Four years have flown by, and we’re back with our annual bday celebration post 🙂

This year I enlisted the creative genius of one of my best friends, and I’m sure you’ll love the outcome as much as I do! ❤
As always, the bday images will be used for the blog header, and social media graphics for the next year.

But first, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane:
2Before showing you Janine’s creations in all their glory, here are links to the previous bday posts:

1st Birthday Shoot post and album
2nd Birthday Shoot post and album
3rd Birthday Illustrations post and album 3

You may recognise Janine from BBITES’ 2nd bday shoot. She’s a talented baker, and when she brought an amazing cake to Locofama’s anniversary I knew she would be the perfect person to collaborate with for birthday number four.4Janine used a variety of tools to shape and sculpt the amazing edible artworks. Even though they look super real, don’t forget: all of the images you’re about to see are made of fondant (icing), and chocolate cake. Incredible!!!

Please enjoy the final images for BBITES 4th Birthday… *drum roll*
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23Thank you so much to Janine for her wonderful work. Should you wish to reach her to commission any cakes, please use this email:

janineclaase @ yahoo.com

Let’s keep biting all the way till next year!

Bakker x

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