Tag Archives: hydroponic

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…

***

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

Sig bbites

SOHOFAMA – The Bakker’s Bites Preview

1If you haven’t heard of PMQ yet, you’ve been living under a rock! Located on Aberdeen Street (a.k.a. the steep hill between Hollywood Road and Soho), the former Police Married Quarters has been transformed into a creative hub for Hong Kong entrepreneurs. And this includes an exciting new restaurant concept from local lifestyle brand G.O.D. and LocofamaSOHOFAMA. Bakker’s Bites was there last week for a preview, and interview with founder Larry Tang –  so get ready for a sneak preview of Hong Kong’s most exciting new Chinese restaurant, which will be officially opening its doors soon…2SOHOFAMA is next door (and connected inside) to the G.O.D. store in PMQ. Warmly-lit and decorated with Hong Kong design accents, as well as fresh modern touches, there’s nowhere you can turn in SOHOFAMA without seeing green: there are plants everywhere.Page_04The greenery is an important part of the restaurant’s concept: farming. But more on that later… Page_02 copy 2After sitting down in the cha chaan teng-style booth seats, it’s time to get tasting. Like LOCOFAMA in Sai Ying Pun, SOHOFAMA serves organic food – but here it’s Chinese cuisine. With no MSG, chicken powder or other nasties, it was particularly nice knowing I wasn’t going to be thirsty to the point of no return after eating…Page_06 copyAmong the starters were several “drunken” appetisers. There’s 24-hour drunken chicken as well, but we stuck to egg and prawn. You can tell the prawns are local-caught, because they were damn fresh – and the heady Chinese wine marinade made both of these dishes a real treat. Page_06The plateware is so cute, too! Next on the seafood appetiser front was one of my favourite local dishes: fried egg-yolk prawns. Page_07 copyCreamy with that signature crisp sand texture on the outside, and tender on the inside, SOHOFAMA’s take on this classic was spot-on.Page_10 copyNext, some classy xiao long baos. These were more refined than what I’m used to: with a thin yet flexible skin (i.e. doesn’t break when you lift it up, even if you don’t eat it straight away), the soup filling and meat aren’t overly oily or heavy.Page_08 copyThis is something a lot of the dishes at SOHOFAMA have in common: achieving the same recipes but in a leaner, cleaner way – and with premium ingredients.Page_10Such was the case with the D.I.Y. duck buns, as well. The skin was crispy and meat succulent, but it wasn’t dripping in oil as you’d expect from a Peking Duck, for example.Page_08The last main dish of my evening was a fantastic mud crab, served with sticky fried-rice. As good as it looks! Get ready to get your hands dirty, though – you won’t be able to leave anything behind…Page_09 copyWhat’s a sneak peek without a peek into the kitchen? Well, take a step inside with me 🙂 !Page_13 copySOHOFAMA’s kitchen has all the standard equipment you’d find in a commercial Chinese kitchen: super hot fires for wok-frying, dim sum baskets, all manner of sauces, giant chopping knives of different sizes and more…Page_12 copyPage_13We even managed a snap of SOHOFAMA’s three musketeers: Larry Tang (founder), Head Chef Shing, and mixologist Kit.Page_12And now, time for my interview with Larry Tang, founder of Locofama Group… Page_15 copy Bakker’s Bites (BBITES): Tell us about how you approached the concept and design, especially considering PMQ is a heritage building?

Larry Tang (LT): Well, PMQ in Chinese is Yuen Chong Fong (元創方)

Yuen Chong (元創) means ‘original creation’, and Fong (方) means ‘place’. So for everything we do, we want it to be original: from the interior; to the food and drinks…

PMQ is the first space where we have Hong Kong entrepreneurs doing something; it’s the first of its kind. We want to create something that hasn’t been done anywhere, including Hong Kong.

That’s where our farming concept comes into the picture. A lot of people talk about “farm to table,” but we will have our own farm at the restaurant. So it will be more like, “table to farm,” instead.

It being a heritage site, we have a lot of design restrictions.

BBITES: Can you give us an example?

LT: Everything that you do to the exterior has to be pre-approved. And there a lot of walls inside that we can’t break down, or even drill holes. We just have to work around it.

BBITES: How involved was G.O.D. (Goods of Desire) in the development phase?

LT: It was a pretty close collaboration [with G.O.D.], they were involved in every stage of the project from the beginning. From the interior and overall concept; the food concept. We also went back and forth with the name.

BBITES: Could you give us an insider scoop on one of the name choices before you decided on ‘SOHOFAMA’?

LT: We were playing around with G.O.D.’s slogan in English, “Delay No More.” At the end we are using the Chinese version of that for Sohofama’s Chinese name, which you can see on our logo.

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BBITES: What do the Chinese characters mean?

LT: The first character means ‘ingredient’, and the second means ‘preparation’. The third and the fourth mean ‘farming’. But pronounced in Cantonese, it’s a play on words… a bit cheeky, actually.

BBITES: Did your Chef and Mixologist work together in creating the dishes and original cocktails?

LT: They both followed the philosophy of the overall concept with the restaurant, but they worked quite independently.

BBITES: How would you sum up that philosophy?

LT: First of all, everything we do needs to be delicious and healthy. It needs to be food and drinks that are suitable for Hong Kong people, as well as expats and tourists.Page_15 copy 3BBITES: Please tell us more about the two murals in SOHOFAMA?

LT: The first one in the small dining room is basically a timeline of the PMQ site. It used to be the Central College here in the late 1800s, but it was destroyed by the Japanese in WWII. They quickly rebuilt a police married quarter. It’s thanks to the heritage status that this building wasn’t turned into a typical commercial space, but something more for the community, by the community.

For the second mural, we wanted to do something that was related to the police history of PMQ. My dad was a policeman, so we found a photo of him and we put a warning sign next to it with a message saying, “no pesticides, no junk food”.

The artist behind both murals is a graffiti artist. She’s someone who’s from Hong Kong – born and raised – but she lives in Germany at the moment. We flew her back to HK just for this project.

BBITES: What was the biggest challenge on the SOHOFAMA journey?

LT: Definitely to successfully create healthy Chinese cuisine – without MSG, or chicken powder. I don’t think it’s ever been done. In the beginning none of our chefs thought it was possible; coming from a commercial kitchen background in Chinese cooking, the idea of not using MSG and chicken powder was like not letting the chefs use their left and right hands.

It’s hard to deliver on what you claim, but we’re very proud with what we’ve achieved.

BBITES: You also sourced local and imported ingredients to deliver on your promise of healthy, organic food. Did that change any elements of the food you serve?

LT: It was very challenging to find all the ingredients that we needed: grass-fed beef, organic pork, organic vegetables, and even sauces. For the sauces you use in Chinese cooking, we managed to find a local supplier for that. I don’t think any commercial kitchen used that supplier before.

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Once you have the freshest premium ingredients, you don’t need to use the MSG and other bad stuff anymore.

In the past, when Hong Kongers fell on hard times, chefs didn’t have access to good, fresh ingredients so they had to deep-fry and come up with all kinds of sauces to mask the bad ingredients.

At SOHOFAMA, we could use the best organic pork to do a Sweet & Sour Pork, but we want to show people how pork really tastes instead of deep-frying and pouring sauce all over it. With the organic pork, we decided to strip it down, with a ‘less is more’ approach.

BBITES: What plans do you have for the outdoor farm concept?

LT: We have very ambitious plans for the outdoor farm. There’s already a lot of planters and [soil] bedding in our outdoor space. We have a landscape plan, but we need to get the approval before we can convert it into a farm.Page_15 copy 2We already have an in-house farmer working for us who’s ready to do it, but before we get approval we came up with the solution to build “trolley farms”. We can push them around if they need more sunlight, or when it’s raining we can move them as well.Page_02At the bar we have two hydroponic systems which are growing herbs for our bartenders, who use them for our cocktails. Hydroponic means you don’t use soil but just water – infused with minerals and nutrients – to grow vegetables and herbs.

BBITES: It seems like you’re keen on showing your guests the possibilities of healthy living and sustainability…

LT: Yeah, definitely. That’s why farming was such a big component to our concept. We want to educate, as well. We’ll have a lot of workshops, and teach people how to make their own farms at home if they like.

It’ll be impossible for us to supply all the vegetables we need for the restaurant with our outdoor farm – the main reason it’s there is to teach people when they visit us. I will also learn more, too.

BBITES: Last and not least, are there any more surprises on the menu I haven’t seen yet?

LT: We’ll be introducing some very special soups. Our chef worked with a Chinese doctor to come up with the herbal soup recipes. We’ll have things like The Hangover Cure, The Detoxifier, so stay tuned!

-END OF INTERVIEW-Page_11 copy

On my way out, I couldn’t help noticing the wacky chandelier of water guns. Definitely appropriate for a zombie apocalypse – wouldn’t expect anything less from quirky G.O.D. design…

I look forward to going back for an interview with Kit, to learn more about the original cocktails at SOHOFAMA. He’s waiting on the final glassware, so I resisted posting on the cocktails I already tried out of respect 🙂 After all, details are everything!

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re as excited as I am for this awesome new organic oasis…

Bakker x

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