Cover Find out who made it to our tastemakers list 2021

Tatler launches its directory of the most influential individuals in the food and beverage industry in Asia: The Tastemakers list

This month sees the launch of the Tastemakers list, the third instalment of Tatler’s Asia’s Most Influential series, which identifies the leaders across Asia making an impact this year in their respective fields.

Focusing on the F&B industry and spanning a host of professionals from chefs, bartenders, mixologists and restaurateurs to social and FoodTech entrepreneurs, food critics and farmers, the selections include such luminaries as restaurateurs Syed Asim Hussain and Christopher Mark, co-founders of Hong Kong’s ever-expanding Black Sheep Restaurants; DeAille Tam of Obscura restaurant in Shanghai, who was named Asia’s Best Female Chef 2021; Berg Wu, a World Barista Champion and founder of Taiwan’s acclaimed coffee chain Simple Kaffa; and founder of Singapore’s Brass Lion Distillery, Jamie Koh, among many others.

(Related: How One Singaporean Entrepreneur Hopes To Impact The Global Craft Spirits Market)

 

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Caleb and Joshua Ng

Profession: Restaurateurs, Interval and Cut Sando Bar

Location: Hong Kong

Impact statement: Driving a future-forward approach to F&B in Hong Kong

Identical twins Caleb and Joshua Ng, founders of Twins Kitchen, have long been making their mark on Hong Kong's F&B scene, whether through quaint neighbourhood café Common Ground, Preset Event Space located underneath their original coffee and wine bar, Interval in Central, or food incubator PMQ Taste Kitchen.

Most recently the pair relaunched Interval as two entirely new venues in Cyberport and Lohas Park where they are cementing their future-forward approach by experimenting with low-intervention and biodynamic wines, sourdough pizzas, live-fire cooking and, in the case of the Cyberport restaurant, an on-site farm created in collaboration with Farmacy HK that reduces the operation’s carbon footprint. Their next project, Cut Sando Bar, demonstrates an aptitude for identifying the next great idea in food, combining Japanese-style sandwiches with natural wines and curated music.

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Danny Yip

Profession: Chef and restaurateur, The Chairman

Location: Hong Kong

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.

(Related: Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021: Hong Kong's The Chairman Tops the Prestigious List)

 

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Helen Kwok

Profession: Coffee influencer, @f.o.v_

Location: Hong Kong

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. 

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Jessica Fong

Profession: Urban farmer, Common Farms

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Peggy Chan

Profession: Sustainability advocate and chef, Grassroots Initiatives

Location: Hong Kong

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. 

(Related: A Taste of Home: Chef ArChan Chan’s Favourite Food Spots in Hong Kong)

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Roger Chan

Profession: Chairman and founder, MetaDesign and MetaBev

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Wanda Huang

Profession: Forager

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Keti Mazzi

Profile: Founder, Certa

Location: Hong Kong

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.

 

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Agung Prabowo

Profession: Co-founder, Penicillin Bar and Dead&

Location: Hong Kong

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.

(Related: Penicillin Hong Kong Crowned Most Sustainable Bar by Asia's 50 Best Bars 2021)

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Alison Tan

Profession: Food designer and co-founder, Otium

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Antonio Lai

Profession: Mixologist and owner, Quinary

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Christopher Wong

Profession: General Manager, Carbon Brews

Location: Hong Kong

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 auteurs like Christopher Doyle.

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Daisy Tam

Profession: Founder, Breadline and HKFoodWorks

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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David Yeung

Profession: Founder, Green Monday, Green Common and Omnipork

Location: Hong Kong

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.”

(Related: 3 New Gourmet Grocery Stores With Bistros in Singapore to Visit in February 2021)

 

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Elizabeth Chu

Profession: Chairwoman, ZS Hospitality Group

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Elliot Faber

Profession: Founder, Sake Central

Location: Hong Kong

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.

(Related: Why Every Sake Lover Should Be Excited About IWA’s Singapore Debut)

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Gabrielle Kirstein

Profession: Founder, Feeding Hong Kong

Location: 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”.

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Gregoire Michaud

Profession: Founder, Bread Elements, Bakehouse and Bread Pantry

Location: Hong Kong

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.

 

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Heidi Spurrell

Profession: CEO, Food Made Good Hong Kong

Location: 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.

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Holly Graham

Profession: Managing Editor, Drink Magazine

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Janice Leung Hayes

Profession: Founder, Tong Chong Street Market and Honestly Green

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Jason Cohen

Profession: Founder, Nomad Caviar

Location: Hong Kong

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.

(Related: New Restaurant Alert: Bao by Cé La Vi Opens in Singapore)

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John Nugent

Profession: Group Beverage Director, Leading Nation

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Kai Yi Carrie Chan

Profession: Co-founder and CEO, Avant Meats Company

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Lorenzo Antinori

Profession: Beverage Manager, Caprice Bar at Four Seasons

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Margaret Lam

Profession: Instagrammer, @little_meg_siu_meg

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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May Chow

Profession: Founder, Little Bao and Happy Paradise

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Nick Law and Jeremy Li

Profession: Co-founders, NIP Distilling

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Richard Ekkebus

Profession: Director of culinary operations and F&B, Landmark Mandarin Oriental

Location: Hong Kong

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.

(Related: How Amber’s Lighter Take On The Tasting Menu is Shaking Up The Status Quo of Hong Kong's Fine Dining Scene)

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Sean Oakford

Profession: General Manager, Roganic

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Tegan Smyth

Profession: Founder, Table of Two Cities

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Theresa Yiu

Profession: Founder, Dashijie

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Tiffany Shek

Profession: Founder, Grain of Salt

Location: Hong Kong

Impact statement: Combining health eating and nutritional consulting in a one-stop shop

Shek is the founder of Hong Kong’s first dietician-operated café, 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.

 

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Vicky Cheng

Profession: Executive chef and co-founder, VEA Restaurant & Lounge

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Vicky Lau

Profession: Chef and owner, Tate Dining Room

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Vincent Mui

Profession: Founder, Test Kitchen

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Wil Fang

Profession: Founder, Cookie DPT; managing director, The DPT Group

Location: Hong Kong

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

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Yenn Wong and Alan Lo

Profession: Founder, JIA Group

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Christopher Mark and Syed Asim Hussain

Profession: Co-founders, Black Sheep Restaurants

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Céline Herren and Amit Oz

Profession: Co-founders, Conspiracy Chocolate

Location: Hong Kong

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.

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Sam Lui

Profession: Founder, Wendy's Wok World

Location: Hong Kong

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.

 

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Tom Andrews

Profession: Assistant General Manager, Hongkong Land

Location: Hong Kong

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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Sebastien Lepinoy

Profession: Executive chef and director of culinary and operations, Les Amis

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: A leading French chef who continually strives to achieve more

Chef Sebastien Lepinoy has helmed Les Amis since 2013. The French haute cuisine restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars in 2019, and ranked No 13 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 list. “When you receive three Michelin stars, it’s not a lifetime achievement. To maintain the stars, we must get stronger and stronger every year. We must invest in manpower and training so that they have different skills,” says Lepinoy. This includes sending team members for French lessons.

The chef shares, “One of the exciting things in 2021 is that we will be renovating the restaurant [in June]. One of our private rooms will be transformed into a cheese room to offer an even better experience to our guests. We are also going with a new approach by offering gourmet products online including olive oil, caviar, butter and champagne with Les Amis branding.” Lepinoy, who is Chopard’s brand ambassador, will also be collaborating with a famous porcelain maker in France in the near future.

(Related: Meet Singapore’s Culinary Power Couple: Les Amis Executive Chef Sebastien Lepinoy and Olivia Lee)

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Julien Royer

Profession: Chef-owner, Odette

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: One of Asia's top fine-dining chefs who is helping to develop the next generation of chefs and hospitality leaders

The chef-owner of three-Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant Odette in Singapore, and one-Michelin-starred bistro-style restaurant Louise in Hong Kong, Julien Royer is not only the face of his restaurants, but a mentor to his team of chefs. In his kitchens, there’s a very collaborative culture with emphasis on the team growing together. “To develop the next generation of hospitality leaders, I believe I have a responsibility to infuse positivity, inspire through knowledge, cultivate an uplifting culture and continuously challenge one another to move the industry forward,” he says.

Royer is working on his second venture in Singapore with The Lo & Behold Group. Slated to open in the third quarter of 2021, the new concept at Dempsey Hill is designed for a wider audience, and will serve à la carte French cuisine in a relaxed manner. “I’m very excited about the possibility of creating a place that brings people together over the simple pleasures of good food and drinks in a lively atmosphere. I believe people look to return to comfort and authenticity more than ever before.”

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Beppe DeVito

Profession: Chef-restaurateur and founder, il Lido Group

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: Enhancing Singapore's dining scene with crowd-pleasing concepts

The man behind some of Singapore’s buzziest dining concepts wears many hats. Beppe De Vito, founder and owner of il Lido Group, juggles a variety of restaurants ranging from luxe dining destinations Art, Gemma and Michelin-starred Braci, to breezy rooftop bars Levant and Southbridge, to casual restaurant Amò.

The dynamic Italian chef certainly seems to have a knack for ideating and executing crowd-pleasing concepts—his latest venture is Carne, a joint partnership with chef Mauro Colagreco of three Michelin-starred restaurant Mirazur in France. It ticks all the right boxes in sustainability, a game changer for a restaurant specialising in the icon of the fast-food industry: burgers.

(Related: Mauro Colagreco, Chef-Owner of World's Best Restaurant Mirazur on Why Singapore Is Special to Him)

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Damian D'Silva

Profession: Chef, Restaurant Kin

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: A veteran steward of Singapore’s heritage cuisine

Affectionately dubbed the “grandfather of heritage cuisine”, Damian D’Silva is a familiar face to many through his role as a judge on MasterChef Singapore, and not least his championing of the preservation of Singapore’s heritage dishes. He painstakingly documents the country’s complex culinary history through the time-honoured dishes he serves at Restaurant Kin.

Diners tucking into D’Silva’s piquant dishes are treated to a tapestry of flavours woven together by personal stories of yesteryears, a combination that takes Singaporean diners on a journey of remembering their own wonderfully unique and multicultural identities.

(Related: 5 Reasons To Visit Kin, Singaporean Chef Damian D'Silva's New Restaurant At Straits Clan)

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Rishi Naleendra

Profession: Chef-owner, Cheek Bistro, Cloudstreet and Kotuwa

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: Introducing Sri Lankan flavours to an ever-growing audience

For years after making his mark on the local dining scene with one Michelin-starred Cheek Bistro (previously Cheek By Jowl), Sri Lankan native Rishi Naleendra found an elevated platform to offer a deeper and more eloquent expression of his culinary prowess with restaurant Cloudstreet. Opened in July 2019, his culinary approach here—which is modern European in foundation—combines his experiences and heritage. This progressive embrace of Sri Lankan flavours quickly led to the 2020 launch of Kotuwa, Singapore’s first full-service Sri Lankan restaurant––and it could lead to more openings.

“After we settle in Singapore, we may take Kotuwa somewhere else like Australia—it’d be nice for us to have something there," says Naleendra. “It’s a marathon, and I’m pacing myself. When I work for a place, there was always a purpose, and it was never about money. I knew when the time is right, money will follow. Also, investing in people—that’s the key.” Suffice to say, his unpretentious approach regardless of the restaurant concept remains extremely attractive.

(Related: What To Expect At Rishi Naleendra's New Restaurant, Cloudstreet)

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Samia Ahad

Profession: Chef and founder, Coriander Leaf

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: A leading light of Singapore's local F&B industry

Twenty years on and still going strong. Suffice to say, Samia Ahad is a luminary in the local F&B industry. Her restaurant, Coriander Leaf, started serving imaginative, pan-Asian cuisine in Robertson Quay back in 2001. Now, Coriander Leaf can be found at Chijmes and most recently, the Singapore Polo Club, where it breathes fresh air into the club, drawing in members and new visitors with Ahad’s colourful cuisine, which inclusively caters to all dietary restrictions. Ahad has also pivoted her business towards catering services and culinary classes—the latter now done virtually, taking participants around the world with her signature eclectic cuisine that draws on multifaceted culinary cultures.

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Dave Pynt

Profession: Chef-owner, Burnt Ends

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: Reimagining the modern barbecue experience

In 2013, chef Dave Pynt carved out one of the most exciting places to dine in Singapore. Wildly popular modern barbecue restaurant, Burnt Ends, has one Michelin star and is currently ranked No 14 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Newly introduced spin-offs include Burnt Ends Bakery, an online bakery arm, and Burnt Ends Cellars, which offers exclusive wines, whiskies and gins. Pynt, who has been nominated for The Best Chef Awards 2021, also runs casual eatery brand Meatsmith, which serves American smokehouse barbecue at its Telok Ayer restaurant and modern Indian barbecue at its Little India outlet.

Meatsmith also recently expanded to Doha, Qatar. Pynt has plans for new concepts in Jakarta later this year to boot. The Perth native has also taken his modern barbecue concept to the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi with contemporary grill restaurant The Ledge by Dave Pynt, which champions local seafood. Burnt Ends will be moving to a new home in Dempsey this year which will feature an expanded bakery section.

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Ivan Brehm

Profession: Chef-owner, Nouri and Appetite 

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: A reinventor of restaurant concepts

The chef behind Michelin-starred Nouri approaches food with the intellect of an anthropologist, investigating the moments of cultural intersection across cuisines. The result is “crossroads cuisine”, which sees his creations drawing on global culinary traditions and flavours. Extending the idea of crossroads cuisine to cultural experiences, in 2020 Brehm launched Appetite, a space that brings art, music and food together. While Appetite started as Nouri’s research and development arm, the new space (located just above Nouri) showcases daring R&D dishes that draw on collaborative research with historians, artists, journalists and designers.

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Milind Sovani

Profession: Culinary director, Masalaa Bar; founder, Chef Milind Sovani’s Innovation Centre; Indian brand chef, TiffinLabs 

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: Reimagining the future of Indian cuisine

This veteran chef, who previously headed one of Singapore’s top fine dining Indian restaurants, launched Masalaa Bar at the end of 2020 with the aim of offering an eclectic space that features a bar with excellent food, and a restaurant that serves fantastic drinks too. Sovani is also collaborating with TiffinLabs, the FoodTech company that creates digital-first F&B brands.

He says, “Under this umbrella, the Indian food will be branded under my name, and the recipes will be mine. The first venture is called Biryani Bar. In the future, we might do street food of India—which you can assemble for parties at home; this is one of the most exciting projects for me as I see a good future for the virtual restaurants space globally. I’m not afraid of change … maybe that’s what has helped me in my job the last 36 years. I’m always reinventing myself—I think it’s the most important thing.”

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Janice Wong

Profession: Chef-owner, 2am:dessertbar and Janice Wong Singapore

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: Constantly reimagining and reinventing desserts

This homegrown pastry chef constantly invites the world to rethink what dessert can be. Since launching her progressive dessert bar 2am:dessertbar in 2007, Janice Wong has made a name for herself globally with her avant-garde culinary creations, not least her edible art installations that have been exhibited the world over.

Today, her name has become an eponymous international brand found in South Korea, Japan and the UK via retail shops that tote Wong’s signature confectioneries such as bonbons and chocolate painting sets. In July, she will also be running a pop-up in Osaka to commemorate the 2021 Olympics, featuring a range of Peranakan-inspired confectionery.

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Koh Seng Choon

Profession: Founder and executive director, Project Dignity

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: A champion of the disabled and disadvantaged

Project Dignity was established 11 years ago to create jobs for people who are disadvantaged, including those with physical, mental and intellectual disabilities, and who face social challenges. “I started Dignity Kitchen, a centre that trains people with disability to be hawkers,” Koh shares, noting that it was the first hawker school in the world. “We have four basic principles: providing skills, helping people to gain employment, integration and inclusion.”

It started with just one stall, and has since grown to include a warehouse building that’s been transformed into an F&B space. He wants to introduce the Dignity Farm initiative to train autistic children to do farming. He adds, “In Hong Kong, we have created Dignity Wheel—an electric wheelchair delivery system.” He also started Dignity Mama, a second-hand bookshop for mothers with disabled children, and Dignity Ai that features a digital concierge.

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Will Leonard

Profession: Group GM, SuperLoco

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: Influencing Singapore's F&B industry to be more sustainable

The Loco Group, which runs Super Loco at Customs House and Robertson Quay, and Lucha Loco at Duxton Hill, embarked on the “LoC02” Green Steps initiative to make its business more sustainable as well as inspire the F&B Industry. In December 2019, the group led the founding of Singapore’s first F&B Sustainability Council. “What I am proud about is the number of businesses and individuals we have influenced to either do more, stay motivated, or start from scratch,” says Leonard, who hopes the council will be able to scale its impact beyond businesses in its immediate sphere of influence.

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Paul Gabie

Profession: Co-founder and CEO, Proof Collective

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: Reinventing the global cocktail scene

Led by Paul Gabie, independent spirits company and drinks consultancy, Proof & Company, has raised the bar with the launch of ecoSpirits, a groundbreaking solution to spirits packaging. “I am in the process of shifting the majority of my time to leading ecoSpirits, our low-carbon, low-waste technology that dramatically reduces the carbon footprint of spirits consumption,” says Gabie, who passed the baton of his Proof & Company CEO role to his successor Paul Broadbent in April.

He adds, “ecoSpirits is launching in the UK in May, and soon in additional markets in Europe. We are bringing a Singapore sustainability technology to the world—something we’re very proud of.” Last year, Gabie helped establish the Singapore Cocktail Bar Association to help the industry navigate the pandemic. In 2020, he was named in Drinks International’s Bar World 100 list of the industry’s most influential figures.

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Cynthia Chua

Profession: Founder and CEO, Spa Esprit

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: Ensuring Singapore's lifestyle scene stays ahead of the curve with her cutting-edge concepts

This relentless entrepreneur is a tastemaker in the truest sense of the word. Since 1996, the savvy founder of the Spa Esprit Group has built an entire lifestyle empire encompassing some of the city’s most noteworthy F&B venues as well as beauty and wellness brands.

The 16 brands (and counting) span more than 100 outlets in 10 cities including Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Chua has an uncanny ability to give consumers what they don’t know they want yet. She has introduced new concepts—to much fanfare—into the Singaporean market such as natural wine bar Drunken Farmer, farm-to-table dining experiences Noka and Open Farm Community, and gut-friendly and gluten-free venue The Butcher’s Wife. The group opened its seventh Tiong Bahru Bakery in April, and a new Common Man Coffee Roasters in Joo Chiat in May.

(Related: Tiong Bahru Bakery Opens its 7th Outlet at Fort Canning Park)

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Jamie Koh

Profession: Founder, Brass Lion Distillery

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: Driving a host of sustainable initiatives and collaborations in the drinks space

Running Singapore’s first standalone micro‑distillery that specialises in small‑batch craft spirits is only the beginning for Jamie Koh, who believes that maintaining a sustainable business is just as important. This includes a product line that uses upcycled ingredients from its distillation processes.

“As part of our commitment to quality, we hand-peel all of our citrus fruits and use the peels for distillation. The fruits without peels are then cut and dehydrated for use in our tasting room and bar as garnishes. Other interesting products that we’ve made as part of our sustainability product line include gin marmalade, hot sauce, ice cream and cooking salts,” she says. Koh also highlighted her fondness for collaborations with like-minded local businesses, which include chocolate bonbons with local chocolatier Mr Bucket, the Osmanthus Oolong Gin with Gryphon Tea Company, and the Flourishing Fortune Gin with homeware and furniture brand, Scene Shang.

(Related: 15 of the Best Asian Gins to Drink Right Now)

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Loh Lik Peng

Profession: Founding director, Unlisted Collection

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: A serial restaurateur behind some of Singapore's best restaurants 

With top-notch restaurants such as Burnt Ends, Cloudstreet, Nouri and Restaurant Zén all under the Unlisted Collection umbrella, what is Loh Lik Peng’s winning formula? “I think I have been lucky to work with the best in the business. It’s really down to them and not me,” the serial restaurateur declares. Loh entrusts the restaurant projects to them and enables them to hone their creativity—as long as the businesses are kept financially viable. Besides Singapore, Loh also helms Unlisted Collection’s boutique hotel properties and restaurants in restored heritage listed buildings in cities including London, Sydney and Shanghai.

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Wee Teng Wen

Profession: Co-founder and managing partner, The Lo & Behold Group

Location: Singapore

Impact statement: Keeping Singapore's F&B scene enduringly exciting

Since Wee Teng Wen co-founded The Lo & Behold Group in 2005, he has launched a series of award-winning concepts in Singapore, revitalising the F&B scene with pioneering concepts. Last year, the group launched Clink Clink, an online bottle shop offering sommelier-curated bundles of wines, while 2021 will see the opening of a new relaxed French dining concept led by Julien Royer, the award-winning chef behind the three-Michelin-starred Odette. Wee says, “I encourage my team to challenge and uplift the local scene by always trying to take the uncharted path to accomplish our goals”

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Desmond Lim