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Singapore’s Top Chefs Tell Us Why Sustainability Matters in the F&B Scene

The culinary maestros partnering with HSBC on its sustainability mission are offering eco-friendly menus that are better for the planet 9

Here is the sad reality: humanitarian organisation World Food Programme (WFP) reported in 2020 that approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally every year—about a third of all food produced for human consumption worldwide. Moreover, this wastage is responsible for roughly 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with 28 per cent of it stemming from F&B businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores. Throw in the social implications of such astronomical food waste, and it’s all the more imperative that both businesses—within and beyond the F&B sector—and the public step up their sustainability efforts.

This is why financial institution HSBC has teamed up with Hong Kong‑based sustainability consultancy Food Made Good HK to bring One Planet Plate to our shores. This campaign by non‑profit organisation Sustainable Restaurant Association promotes sustainable food to diners and educates consumers on how to cook more sustainably at home. Sustainability is the prevailing ethos at HSBC and this food campaign, shares Jonathan Castleman, its global head of brand and brand partnerships, opens up a world of opportunity by bringing people and cultures across the globe together, enabling borderless action around the need for awareness, engagement and change. “Our partnership with Food Made Good HK,” he says, “provides a platform to reach our customers and communities, and inspire positive change by encouraging sustainable dining habits.”

An international campaign that already has the support of 31 restaurants on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, One Planet Plate was launched in Singapore and the UK on February 8 this year, with Hong Kong due to launch in the coming months. So far, 8,798 restaurants have jumped on board globally with representation from 37 countries, and this includes local restaurants such as Open Farm Community (OFC), Quick Greens and Terra Madre.

Fitting in nicely with the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which includes a “30 by 30” goal of producing 30 per cent of the nation’s nutritional needs locally by 2030 and a Zero Waste master plan, One Planet Plate showcases the delectable sustainable offerings on participating restaurants’ menus to encourage more planet‑friendly decisions among diners. Through this campaign, chefs can demonstrate how they are contributing to a more viable food future and in turn galvanise diners into considering and acting upon their own food choices.

“Since day one, OFC has [had] a strong focus on creating a deeper understanding for food sources and developing the bond between consumers and what they eat. For us, sustainability is important because we love food, and want good, responsible and healthy food to be available to everyone,” says OFC’s executive chef Oliver Truesdale Jutras on the restaurant’s participation in the campaign.

Among OFC’s sustainable offerings are its pesticide‑ and fertiliser‑free eggplant—grown on premise, no less—and dishes that utilise milk from dairy farm Hay Dairies, the only local source of goat milk. Jutras adds: “We practise minimal waste management by repurposing all trimmings and discards, and compost our scraps on‑site to circulate nutrients back to our farms and garden. We also use biodegradable packaging and practise recycling as much as possible.”

OFC isn’t the only restaurant on the island that has sustainability on its mind. Hearteningly, there is an increasing number of local F&B establishments offering mindful meals, including Brewerkz, Café Iguana, Cultivate Cafe and Origin Grill, all of which are working with HSBC in its mission to take care of Mother Earth.

This is in part due to chefs, who, understanding their responsibility to help foster a culture of waste prevention, serve up menus that use locally sourced produce and ingredients that, among other things, reduce wastage and environmental pollution.

Diners, too, play a role in moving sustainability from the sidelines to being at the heart of Singapore’s mission and food culture. “As customers become more educated and a new generation takes the economic reins, they make decisions based on their value systems, which are increasingly based on environmental and ethical concerns,” says Jutras.

Origin Grill’s chef de cuisine Nathan Griffin agrees. “As diners these days become more environmentally and socially conscious, prioritising eco‑friendly food sourcing and reducing food waste is essential,” he emphasises. This is why Origin Grill focuses on the provenance of its ingredients, sourcing, as much as possible, from local suppliers and adopting local organic produce. “We use a lot of local vegetables and barramundi farmed in Singapore,” he shares. “Highlights on our menu include our roasted cauliflower, the catch of the day, and roasted tomato soup.”

Likewise, Brewerkz and Café Iguana, both operated by The Brewerkz Company, make a conscientious effort to source for local ingredients to reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, both establishments use non‑aesthetic vegetables to create dishes such as burratina gazpacho, stocks, stews and puree. Their menus also include more vegetarian and plant‑based alternatives to encourage cleaner eating as a whole.

Seow Tzi Qin, group executive chef of The Brewerkz Company, ensures sustainability in other ways as well, such as through the use of special techniques like curing, and substituting avruga—a product made from herring meat, lemon juice, sea salt and squid ink—for sturgeon caviar, helping to maintain a healthy supply of sturgeon.

Meanwhile, plant‑based and gluten‑free restaurant Cultivate Cafe packs its menu with a variety of dishes that are 100 per cent organic. “We promote clean eating, and seek to inspire a shift towards a healthy and sustainable diet through high vibration foods made from plant‑based, organic and GMO‑free ingredients,” says Satinder Garcha, chairman of The Garcha Group, which owns the cafe.

Beyond promoting sustainable dining habits by partnering with these restaurants, HSBC Singapore is continuously looking at ways to make a greater impact through lifestyle and investment choices. Alice Fok, HSBC Singapore’s head of customer, international & marketing, states: “Increasingly, societies around the world expect banks to help nudge new behaviours among consumers. Central to this would be to give our customers a suite of financial solutions and lifestyle benefits that reflects their desire to live and invest sustainably. Bringing more sustainable dining options to our customers is just one of the many initiatives that we have put in place to drive change.”

Singapore’s Top Chefs Tell Us Why Sustainability Matters in the F&B Scene

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