At Landmark, Sustainability Is The Secret Ingredient For Mindful Dining
Good food isn't just limited to sophisticated cooking techniques and artful plating, as the best chefs inherently know. More importantly, good food should make diners aware of the importance of mindful eating, from personal health to the crucial matter of sustainability in the way we source our ingredients. And at the end of the day, locally grown produce is fresher and more nutritious than ingredients flown in from overseas, simply by virtue of placing diners closer to the source.
With a world-class roster of master chefs who are redefining fine dining to be more conscious and equitable, Landmark is pushing the culinary conversation forward in more ways than one.
Among these trailblazers is culinary director at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Richard Ekkebus, who has been pioneering a new model of green fine dining for years, marked by Amber's watershed 2019 reopening where he debuted a tasting menu completely free of dairy and gluten. Since then, Ekkebus has driven this ethos through partnerships with local producers like Hong Kong Raw Honey, a bee farm in Tai Mo Shan that produces pure, unprocessed honey that is imbued with the terroir of Hong Kong.
With this product, Ekkebus creates a dish of blue lobster with summer squash and longan honey, a combination redolent of Hong Kong summers. "Bees are extremely essential and important to the ecosystem because without them, pollination of flowers would not be possible and hence food production would not take place," he says. "To cook for the top one percent of society is a privilege and an opportunity to influence guest behaviour. This part of society has carbon footprints that can be thousands of times higher than those of average citizens."
Shane Osborn, executive chef of Arcane, will also be bringing his brand of unpretentious, ingredient-driven cuisine, underlined by socially and environmentally-aware conduct to Landmark with the imminent opening of his third restaurant, Moxie—an all-day dining venue that encourages diners to regard their relationship with food in the context of health and the environment, all the while broadening their horizons. Helming the kitchen is Arcane's chef de cuisine, Michael Smith, whose close relationship with local organic farms allows him to create dishes only using ingredients at the peak of their prime, with the menu changing week on week.
"There is a new generation of Hong Kong farmers who have the capability and communication skills to work with restaurants like us," Smith says, whose rendition of a tarte fine incorporates lemons and local figs from Li's Organic Farm in Yuen Long. "By working closely with them, the farm-to-table pipeline becomes a lot more dynamic and the ultimate benefactor is the diner, who is able to enjoy food that tastes great and produced sustainably."
Meanwhile at the newly-opened Ami, chef Nicolas Boutin's concept of "fine bistronomie" (a portmanteau of "blend" and "gastronomy") elevates sustainably sourced seafood to an art. "A lot of consumers today are looking for products that can help them live a more sustainable, socially responsible life," he explains. "I think F&B, which is an important part of the city's economy, should also take the lead to minimise our carbon footprint without compromising on ingredients, creativity or flavours.
In choosing to serve only sustainably caught seafood that has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Boutin not only guarantees the freshest flavour, but also ensures that our impact on the health of the oceans is minimised by as much as possible—an approach that is beautifully demonstrated in his dish on Arctic char with cocoa beans and tarragon sauce.
Finally, as Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong's executive chef, Robin Zavou has an outsized impact on the sustainability initiatives of the iconic institution's restaurants. For Mandarin Grill + Bar, he prepares a dish of Japanese line-caught amadai (tilefish) with Fairtrade vanilla from Madagascar, which embodies Zavou's philosophy of "meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." He continues: "Fairtrade offers a sustainable workplace for a lot of people and therefore stands for equal pay and rights for most. We at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong are fully supportive of Fairtrade."
Highlighting just a small cross-section of the richness and diversity of sustainable dining options at Landmark, these four chefs are carving a path forward as producers, restaurants and diners become ever more closely entwined towards a common goal.