Profession: Chef and restaurateur, The Chairman
Impact statement: Giving refined Cantonese cuisine its rightful place on the regional stage
When Danny Yip’s restaurant The Chairman ranked No 1 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021, it was a big moment. Not only was it the first time that a Hong Kong establishment had topped the table, but it was the first time a Cantonese restaurant had taken prime position.
And The Chairman is a worthy winner. Not only does the restaurant present refined Cantonese cuisine and advocate for the region’s food culture, but the research that goes into each dish, from seeking out lost or long-neglected ingredients to perfecting traditional techniques, is second-to-none.
See also: Hong Kong’s The Chairman Tops Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021
Profession: Coffee influencer, @f.o.v_
Impact statement: Documenting the development of Hong Kong’s dynamic cafe culture and delivering regular doses of coffee content to thousands of followers
A practising architect in Hong Kong, Kwok (better known to her 81,000 followers on Instagram as @f.o.v_, which stands for Food of Visuals) paves the way for coffee connoisseurs and design fanatics with her feed showcasing the latest cafés in the city.
For Kwok, visiting a coffee shop is about more than just enjoying a daily dose of caffeine—it’s about immersing herself in the unique vibe of each venue and communicating with baristas. It helps that her passion for photography results in striking images that capture the essence of each spot she visits. Her work has culminated in essential resources—her frequently updated and free-to-use Hong Kong Coffee Map and the Hong Kong Coffee Guide, published in 2020.
Profession: Urban farmer, Common Farms
Impact statement: Making farming feasible again in Hong Kong
Jessica Fong is looking to reclaim some of Hong Kong’s former glory as an agricultural producer through Common Farms, the high-tech, forward-thinking urban farm that she co-founded with Preston Hartwick in 2017. By taking farming indoors, she is able to exercise control over climate, lighting, water efficiency and fertilisation, cutting out the need for pesticides and reducing water use, while stacking growing layers to produce 10 times more per square foot than a traditional farm.
Initially based out of a 400 sq ft test farm in Cheung Chau, Common Farms now operates a commercial production facility in Tin Wan, growing a wide variety of microgreens, herbs and edible flowers for home chefs, speciality grocers and high-end restaurants including Belon, Giando, Frantzen’s Kitchen, Tate Dining Room and Roganic.
Profession: Sustainability advocate and chef, Grassroots Initiatives
Impact statement: Hong Kong’s pioneer in plant-based dining
Nine years ago, Grassroots Pantry opened in Sai Ying Pun at a time when vegetarianism and veganism were still nascent in Hong Kong. Chan manifested her vision for a more eco-conscious, meat-free way of cooking and consuming in her debut eatery, which in 2015 moved to a significantly larger space on Hollywood Road. For four years it charmed diners with its plant-based food, before Chan transformed it into the elegant but sadly short-lived Nectar—a sophisticated, tasting menu-only restaurant. A few months into the coronavirus pandemic, Chan decided to close the restaurant and instead got writing.
In December, she announced the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for a cookbook, Provenance, designed to raise awareness of the soon-to-launch venture Zero Foodprint Asia—a non-profit organisation focusing on food systems as the starting point for the fight against climate change. This year Chan has leaned into her networks to promote her philosophy of a plant-based lifestyle.
See also: Curry Fishballs Are One of Hong Kong’s Greatest Food Inventions, According To Peggy Chan
Profession: Chairman and founder, MetaDesign and MetaBev
Impact statement: Supporting and strengthening Hong Kong’s F&B community, particularly in its most challenging times
Championing mental and physical wellbeing, Chan has set what might seem like a lofty target for 2021: to run to the moon. But he won’t do it alone—as the driving force behind the newly established F&B Run Club initiative, Chan is a believer in teamwork. The aim of the initiative is to bring the F&B community together at a time that has been particularly tough for those in hospitality and together to walk, hike or run the distance to the moon.
It’s not the first time he’s championed his community. In 2020, Chan’s MetaBev worked with Chinese bottled cocktail company Laiba to create Bar in a Bottle, a series inspired and made by leading bartenders in Hong Kong during a period of bar closures, with proceeds going back to the venues. The company also partnered with COA to auction an exclusive bottle of Jose Cuervo 250 Aniversario tequila to raise funds for Save Hong Kong F&B.
Impact statement: Preserving the traditions and knowledge around wild edibles and medicinal plants in Asia
Foraging for food has never been unusual for Huang, who comes from five generations of Chinese herbalists on her father’s side and a farming background on her mother’s side. An educator by profession, Huang forages in her spare time, not only sharing her extensive knowledge of wild edibles and medicinal plants on private foraging excursions but also taking chefs and bartenders on adventures to seek out local delicacies. Most recently, she has been working with spirit companies, including Fernet Hunter, to distil distinctive drinks using Hong Kong herbs.
To source foraged produce, Huang works with organic farms, which is essential as foraging on government land or in country parks is illegal. Huang wants to preserve tradition, too. As she forages in the far reaches of Hong Kong, she gathers information from village elders who also know about wild edibles, and one day hopes to write it all down. But for now, she educates people through her tours and where possible in the experiential education adventures she leads.
Profile: Founder, Certa
Impact statement: Supporting the next generation of Italian producers and bringing their wares to Asian audiences
Italian wine advocate and importer Mazzi is a force in Hong Kong’s drinks industry with her endless enthusiasm for unsung heroes of the wine world. As the founder of Certa, Mazzi represents over 40 Italian food and wine partners, from the luxurious Capofaro resort in the northeast of Sicily to Amara, a blood orange amaro brand that has become a cult favourite among restaurateurs and mixologists in Hong Kong.
At the end of 2020, she launched Certa Platform, an online marketplace pulling together more artisanal products, from small-batch panettone to colatura made from anchovies harvested in spring from the Amalfi Coast. This is all part of an effort to support the next generation of Italian producers by enabling them to find international audiences.
Profession: Co-founder, Penicillin Bar and Dead&
Impact statement: A trailblazer in sustainable bartending
A veteran of the local bar industry, Prabowo was catapulted to the fore of the Asian cocktail scene when his previous venture, The Old Man, was named Asia’s Best Bar in 2019, a mere two years after opening. Last year, in the midst of the industry’s worst downturn in generations, he confronted the pandemic head on with the opening of Penicillin and Dead&, driving sustainable bartending forward with a unique zealotry for closed-loop processes in drink making.
See also: Penicillin Is Asia’s Most Sustainable Bar, As Awarded By Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021
Profession: Food designer and co-founder, Otium
Impact statement: Bringing art, culture and food together in inspiring experiences
Bridging the gap between art, culture and food, Tan is a designer and the founder of experiential pop-up concepts such as Savour Cinema and Synesthesia. Otium, her private renovated warehouse space in eastern Hong Kong, blends performance and lavish dining in unexpected ways, drawing upon mythology and the classical vernacular for a sophisticated gastronomic experience like no other.
Profession: Mixologist and owner, Quinary
Impact statement: Driving Hong Kong’s vibrant cocktail scene
Responsible for Hong Kong’s first craft cocktail bar and for kickstarting the city’s ongoing cocktail craze, Antonio Lai has continued to innovate by opening another five venues under the Tastings Group banner. A 24-year veteran of the industry, Lai continues to create new libations that intrigue and delight, cementing Hong Kong’s reputation as an Asian cocktail capital. Look out for his next venture, a drinks factory project that will only make fine cocktails even more pervasive.
Profession: Head brewer, Carbon Brews
Impact statement: Keeping Hong Kong’s craft beer scene exciting
Though Hong Kong’s craft beer scene is fast maturing, there is still plenty of space for innovation, as Wong has proven with Carbon Brews. Established in 2018, the brewery espouses a democratic, equal-share company structure where all employees collaboratively develop and brew groundbreaking recipes—some involve local talents, from chefs such as May Chow to auteurs like Christopher Doyle.
Profession: Founder, Breadline and HKFoodWorks
Impact statement: Using her knowledge of urban food systems combined with technology to reduce food waste and feed the homeless
When she was a student in London in 2004, Tam sold apples as a part-time job in Borough Market, where farmers would sell leftover produce. This inspired her to become an academic on urban food systems and use technology to reduce food waste when she returned to Hong Kong.
Apart from giving talks to the industry, Tam also set up the crowd-sourcing app Breadline in April 2020 and has since collected 34,627 loaves of leftover bread from bakeries to redistribute to the homeless, refugees and the elderly, an impressive feat—especially during a pandemic.
See also: Eco Heroes: Daisy Tam, Founder of Breadline And Hong Kong Foodworks
Profession: Founder, Green Monday, Green Common and Omnipork
Impact statement: Changing the way people eat while addressing animal welfare and climate change
Few people, if any, have inspired Hongkongers to consume a plant-based diet like Yeung. On Earth Day in 2012, Yeung founded Green Monday, a social venture addressing animal welfare and climate change, before unveiling plant-based grocery store Green Common. More recently, he launched the popular pork alternative OmniPork, which he says “came out of a selfish agenda. I missed dumplings and luncheon meat, two of Hong Kong’s most iconic comfort foods.”
Profession: Chairwoman, ZS Hospitality Group
Impact statement: Bringing fresh new concepts to Hong Kong’s dining scene
Chu’s ZS Hospitality Group (the ZS stands for “zao shen”, or “kitchen god” in Chinese) is behind several of the city’s top destinations, including the Cantonese standout Ying Jee Club, quirkier pop concepts Lee Lo Mei and the vegetarian Miss Lee, and popular Korean import Hansik Goo. Next up is Whey from Barry Quek, beloved chef of the bygone Beet, who also fronts the Uncle Quek kiosk at the group’s Central food hall, JAM.
Profession: Founder, Sake Central
Impact statement: Transforming the image of sake in Hong Kong
Among Hong Kong’s most vocal proponents of sake is Elliot Faber, a Calgary native behind some of the city’s most exciting sake brands and outlets, including Sake Central, Sunday’s Spirits and The Kura Collective. The former beverage director of Yardbird and Ronin is also one of the few Sake Samurais outside of Japan, a title bestowed on those who have made outstanding contributions to the appreciation and promotion of sake across the globe.
See also: The Love Boat: Inside Elliot Faber And Tiffany Ung’s Wedding On A Yacht
Profession: Founder, Feeding Hong Kong
Impact statement: Redistributing surplus food away from landfills and to those that need it most
On a mission to tackle the issue of food waste, Kirstein left the corporate world in 2011 to set up Hong Kong’s first surplus food bank. Feeding Hong Kong redistributes quality food from companies and restaurants to charities and shelters across the city. As she says, “Feed people, not landfills”.
Profession: Founder, Bread Elements, Bakehouse and Bread Pantry
Impact statement: Making artisanal baked goods more accessible in Hong Kong
Acclaimed for his baked goods, the former Four Seasons Hong Kong pastry chef seeks to make his pastries and breads more accessible to Hongkongers. Last October he opened his second Bakehouse outlet, where a queue constantly snakes out of the Soho bakery’s door, and more recently he launched Bread Pantry, which takes his artisanal baked goods, characterised by their quality ingredients, to supermarkets and food halls across Hong Kong.
See also: How Hong Kong’s Vegetables And Char Siu Inspire Bakehouse’s Gregoire Michaud
Profession: CEO, Food Made Good Hong Kong
Impact statement: Advocating for a more sustainable food industry in Hong Kong
Spurrell is a leading advocate for sustainability in the global food industry, having worked with several NGOs specialising in supply chain challenges and the shift to alternative proteins and plant-based diets around the world, and now Food Made Good Hong Kong, a chapter of the UK’s Sustainable Restaurant Association.
Profession: Managing Editor, Drink Magazine
Impact statement: A driver in Asia’s drink industry and a champion of the women who work in it
Having spent only six years in the Asian bar scene, Graham has styled herself a force to be reckoned with through her work for industry publication Drink, and more recently by launching the Asia Women in Booze platform to champion women in the drinks business throughout the region. Graham’s advocacy goes beyond Asia in her role as an academy chair for The World’s 50 Best Bars Awards.
Profession: Founder, Tong Chong Street Market and Honestly Green
Impact statement: Driving demand for local Hong Kong produce and championing sustainability in the city
A prolific writer and editor, Leung Hayes’ sphere of influence also extends beyond the written word. An instrumental player in Hong Kong’s food scene, she brought Tong Chong Street Market to life, creating a now insatiable demand for locally grown produce, as well as Honestly Green, a social enterprise and consultancy that focuses on food sustainability.
Profession: Founder, Nomad Caviar
Impact statement: Transforming the way we purchase and consume caviar
After working as everything from a hotel consultant to executive director of Ce La Vi, Cohen’s latest venture is caviar. Through his brand Nomad Caviar, he hopes to make the exclusive delicacy into an everyday luxury. Sourcing from a family-owned farm in China, which upholds high industry standards, he simply packages Kaluga in 500g, 1kg or 1.7kg tubs to sell direct to consumers. He is already making the mounds of glistening black beads that overflow from his blue tubs the party accessory of the season.
See also: Affordable Caviar By The Kilo? Meet The Hong Kong Brand Making This A Reality
Profession: Group Beverage Director, Leading Nation
Impact statement: Renowned mixologist with a winning speakeasy concept
Nugent prefers that his work speaks for itself or, rather, reveals itself to those who search for it. The Diplomat is where the burly Seattle native delivers an artisanal precision he spent 14 years perfecting. For a masterclass in proportion, go no further than his world-beating Gibson, while his menu of humble bar food just happens to include the city’s best burger. But you won’t find him shouting about it; diplomats are experts in subtlety, after all.
Profession: Co-founder and CEO, Avant Meats Company
Impact statement: Developing cultivated meat products from fish cells
“I have happily skipped meat for half a decade,” Chan says. “Knowing how industrialised concentrated animal breeding inevitably brings side effects to public health.” In 2018, Chan founded China’s first cultivated meat biotechnology company, which uses cell technologies to cultivate traceable meat that does not involve animal slaughter.
Profession: Beverage Manager, Caprice Bar at Four Seasons
Impact statement: A mixology maestro who always has a refreshing take on Hong Kong’s drinks scene
The affable Italian mixology maestro is a refreshing figure on the drinks scene, demonstrating inimitable sprezzatura and a solid intuition for unconventional cocktails. His long-awaited reimagining of the hotel’s flagship bar (soon to be unveiled with a new name and look this June) will be quite unlike any other bar in the city.
Profession: Instagrammer, @little_meg_siu_meg
Impact statement: Influencing Hong Kong’s foodies through her dedicated and detailed Instagramming
Better known by her online moniker, Little Meg, Lam is one of Asia’s most prominent food influencers despite staying in relative anonymity, and a trusted source for where to dine well. Her Instagram account covers, in fascinating detail, the laborious cooking techniques and the specificity of ingredients at the world’s best restaurants; each caption and recommendation is a lesson in deconstructing how and why a dish works.
Profession: Founder, Little Bao and Happy Paradise
Impact statement: Always ensuring Hong Kong’s dining scene is fresh and fun while flying the flag for Cantonese cuisine
Chow continues to move the needle for gastronomy in Hong Kong, bringing much-needed waves of creativity and collaboration to keep the scene fresh. Her restaurants continue to fly the flag for Hong Kong cuisine. She’s also responsible for leading the charge towards offbeat culinary events such as The Gelinaz Shuffle’s Hong Kong edition, where she brings together talents both established and emerging.
Profession: Co-founders, NIP Distilling
Impact statement: Capturing Hong Kong’s botanical diversity in a bottle––of gin
Seeking to capture Hong Kong’s botanical diversity within a gin, Li and Law have made serious inroads as one of its first homegrown distillers. Their NIP Rare Dry Gin has already won the title of Best Hong Kong Contemporary Gin at the World Gin Awards, though they’re not resting on their laurels, with seasonal special releases and plans to produce other spirits in the future.
Profession: Director of culinary operations and F&B, Landmark Mandarin Oriental
Impact statement: Pioneering more sustainable professional kitchens and more thoughtful fine dining operations
Driving change when it comes to sustainability in professional kitchens, Ekkebus puts his progressive approach into practice through his focus on society, sourcing and the environment, as exemplified by his efforts at Amber. He also works closely with sustainability consultancy Food Made Good and is an active voice on Clubhouse, particularly around the importance of operating fine dining more thoughtfully.
Profession: General Manager, Roganic
Impact statement: Leading the way when it comes to service, sourcing and sustainabilty
Not only does Oakford manage the award-winning service team at Roganic, but he is also deeply involved with the sourcing of the restaurant’s local ingredients alongside chef Ashley Salmon. That’s one aspect that sets Roganic apart and led to it becoming the only restaurant in Hong Kong to receive a Green Michelin Star in 2021.
Profession: Founder, Table of Two Cities
Impact statement: Empowering refugee communities through the power of food and cooking
Smyth’s five-year-old grassroots project has brought attention to refugee communities through empowering events where they can showcase their cuisines and skills, and create their own narratives while living in Hong Kong.
Profession: Founder, Dashijie
Impact statement: Keeping Chinese culinary traditions and heritage alive
Fondly known as Dashijie—or Dai C Jie in Cantonese—Yiu is the quiet force shaping chefs today with her infinite knowledge of Chinese cuisine and her desire to uphold time-honoured techniques and traditions. Outside of industry circles, her eponymous food brand brings decades of expertise straight into homes around Hong Kong, most notably her signature sauces and festive foods such as mooncakes and puddings.
Profession: Founder, Grain of Salt
Impact statement: Combining health eating and nutritional consulting in a one-stop shop
Shek is the founder of Hong Kong’s first dietician-operated cafe, Grain of Salt, on Gough Street. Her goal is to combine healthy eating with nutritional counselling. Her shop serves as a clinic and cafe where she is available for medical nutritional therapy to manage health-related issues such as obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol.
Profession: Executive chef and co-founder, VEA Restaurant & Lounge
Impact statement: Committed to reinterpreting Chinese cuisine to the highest––and most sumptuous––standards
Cheng is the founder of Hong Kong’s one-Michelin-starred VEA, where he celebrates the marriage of Chinese and French cuisines. The chef also set up the Elizabeth Nutritional Fund, named after his first daughter, to help underprivileged children avoid malnutrition. Most recently, Cheng opened Wing—a restaurant dedicated to celebrating the possibilities of Chinese cuisine.
Profession: Chef and owner, Tate Dining Room
Impact statement: Highlighting seasonal ingredients, always with an eye of sustainability as well as style
In 2015, Lau earned the title of Asia’s best female chef from Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and in 2021 the restaurant gained its second Michelin star. Last year, the modern French-Chinese hotspot debuted Date by Tate—a boutique filled with covetable lifestyle products, including a six-course gourmet delivery box created with sustainability in mind. She continues to highlight seasonal and traditional ingredients that pay homage to the flavours of Hong Kong.
Profession: Founder, Test Kitchen
Impact statement: Providing a platform for both globally established and emerging chefs to showcase their talent
Through Test Kitchen, Mui has introduced both established and emerging names from the culinary world to Hong Kong diners. At his expansive space in Sai Ying Pun, he has hosted more than 50 pop-ups with chefs from more than 30 countries, and although the pandemic forced some postponements and pivoting, he continues to provide a platform through which chefs can showcase their passions and talents to new audiences.
Profession: Founder, Cookie DPT; managing director, The DPT Group
Impact statement: The brains behind Hong Kong’s favourite cookie brand
Fang moved from New York to Hong Kong in 2009 with the intention of staying in Asia for just a few months. Twelve years later, he is responsible for some of Hong Kong’s most Instagrammable cookies. Nostalgic for the American baked goods he grew up with, Fang made recipes that include the classics as well as limited-edition flavours, like strawberry cheesecake, cinnamon toast crunch and funfetti. The business now has kiosks at Basehall, Harbour City and Lee Garden One, and a pop-up at The Grounds.
See also: For Cookie DPT Founder Wil Fang, Sweets Are Serious Business
Profession: Founder, JIA Group
Impact statement: Enhancing Hong Kong’s F&B scene with solid dining concepts that deliver style and substance
Wong is the founder and CEO of JIA Group, which oversees some of Hong Kong’s buzziest Michelin-starrred restaurants, including Louise and Ando. She co-founded Duddell’s with her husband, Alan Lo. With Wong as CEO, JIA and its establishments have become synonymous with style and substance.
Profession: Co-founders, Black Sheep Restaurants
Impact statement: Building an ever-growing empire of innovative restaurants and concepts that continue to drive Hong Kong’s F&B industry forward
Over the best part of a decade, this dynamic duo have turned their small restaurant group into a culinary empire with a roster of impressive chefs and fresh concepts that keep the public coming back for more. In 2020, their Covid-19 playbook proved a resource for the industry and, this year, the group are charging ahead with even more restaurant launches and initiatives.
Profession: Co-founders, Conspiracy Chocolate
Impact statement: Bringing new dimensions to bean-to-bar chocolate
From experimenting by fusing melted Lindt chocolate bars with aromatics in their Sai Ying Pun kitchen to creating high-quality bean-to-bar chocolate in a licensed food factory, Herren and Oz are creating a new wave of locally made confectionery that challenges convention.
Profession: Founder, Wendy’s Wok World
Impact statement: Shining a spotlight on the traditions and techniques of Chinese wok cooking
When Lui embarked on a project to explore Chinese traditions through the lens of wok cookery, she intended it to be purely conceptual, with “Wendy” as her alter-ego. Today, the private dinners she holds in her family home in Sheung Shui are the talk of the town, thanks to her wok skills and intriguing ambition.
See also: The Rising Stars Of Hong Kong’s Dining Scene And What They’re Doing Now
Profession: Assistant General Manager, Hongkong Land
Impact statement: A force for innovative food concepts in Hong Kong’s Central district
Andrews spearheaded the creation of Basehall, Hong Kong’s hottest food hall that brings together the city’s creative restaurant brands, from Yardbird’s Roti Tori to vegetarian cult favourite Treehouse. More recently, he led the launch of Belowground at Landmark and is planning more projects for the property developer.
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