Cover Jessica Fong of Hong Konng-based Common Farms (Source: Common Farms)

The World's 50 Best announces the 50 Next, an unranked list celebrating the young people who are shaping the future of food and drink, and one entry is from Hong Kong

The World’s 50 Best unveils the second edition of 50 Next, an awards list that features young individuals who have contributed to the world of food and drink, and considers them the next-generation of industry leaders with ongoing potential to drive significant and positive change. The unranked list is designed to be inclusive and takes a wider look at gastronomy, recognising producers, scientists, tech creators, educators, activists and more in seven categories: Gamechanging Producers; Tech Disruptors; Empowering Educators; Entrepreneurial Creatives; Science Innovators; Hospitality Pioneers and Trailblazing Activists.

50 Next celebrates the achievements of individuals aged 35 and under, but also considers those over 35 who have recently started a new career. More than 400 candidates were considered from this year's applications and nominations by 50 Next’s academic partner, the Basque Culinary Center, before the list was announced at the first-ever live event held at the Palacio Euskalduna in Bilbao, Basque Country.

The 2022 class includes a wide range of inspiring innovators, aged 22 to 37, from 30 different territories across six continents. 13 entries come from Asia, with a total of 16 honourees spanning Singapore, Malaysia, Taipei, Thailand, Indonesia, India, mainland China, and Hong Kong. The list also highlights the countries of origin as some individuals have left their home countries to reside elsewhere. Ahead, we take a look at the young people from Asia driving change in gastronomy.

Read more: Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 Revealed With Tokyo’s Den Claiming Top Spot

Game-Changing Producers

Jessica Fong, Hong Kong
Fong, who is also a Tastemaker in Tatler’s series of Asia’s Most Influential 2021, established Common Farms—a vertical farm in Aberdeen that uses technology to create optimal climate conditions indoors without generating unnecessary waste, food miles or the need for pesticides. It produces ten times more crops per square foot than a traditional farm. The farm grows a variety of fresh produce including low-carbon footprint microgreens, edible flowers, and speciality herbs all year round and supplies these to restaurants across Hong Kong.

Dharath Hoonchamlong, Bangkok, Thailand
The zero-waste educator fought food waste by using surplus ingredients and by-products for cocktails at the Wasteland bar (which was located inside Thai restaurant Bo.Lan). However, the pandemic forced the business to pivot and Wasteland began making craft soda using cacao husks and whole citrus fruits instead. As a public speaker and consultant, Hoonchamlong also works to spread the sustainability message to students, researchers, farmers and chefs.

Yu Hsuan Cheng, Taipei
Cheng is a chocolatier committed to sharing Taiwanese culture with the world while showcasing the potential of its flavours and ingredients including longan fruits, calamansi, jasmine flowers and maqaw pepper. His business, Yu Chocolatier, has not only seen success in Taipei but it has also won accolades across the globe and is the first Taiwanese chocolate brand to be invited to the Salon du Chocolat in Paris.

Empowering Educators

Anusha Murthy and Elizabeth Yorke, Bangalore, India
Murthy and Yorke are the co-creators of a collective called Edible Issues that is working towards a better future for food in India. They do so by connecting people from agriculture, hospitality, business and politics in order to push educational initiatives and tackle bigger food issues. The duo have worked on major initiatives including projects that examine India’s banana industry and edible oil consumption.

Yi Jun Loh, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A cook, food writer, and podcaster, Loh is educating the world on the history and culture of Asian cuisine. He is also embarking on a mission to address the lack of representation in the food space for Southeast Asian cuisine. As a result, his progressive outlook has led to a better understanding of Asia's culinary traditions.

Vinesh Johny, Bangalore, India
An ambassador of modern patisserie in India, Johny is the co-founder of the country's first specialised international baking school. What's more, the Lavonne Academy of Baking Science & Pastry Arts offers students the opportunity to study business management and entrepreneurship, while providing practical training at the Lavonne Student Café.

Entrepreneurial Creatives

Travinder Singh, Singapore
Singh is the founder and CEO of Crust Group, a food tech start-up that turns bread into artisanal beers, while peels, seeds and rinds from fruits and vegetables are turned into non-alcoholic beverages. Valuing locally grown produce, Singh also makes a point in utilising a plant known as Ulam Raja (or King's Salad) instead of importing hops for his beers.

Hospitality Pioneers

Jackwing Yao, Lola Liu, and Tiger Liang, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, China 
These three mixologists, who work for SanYou in Guangzhou, Hope & Sesame in Shenzhen and Hope & Sesame in Guangzhou respectively, are seen as the future of bartending in China. Yao aims to change people's perceptions of baijiu through cocktails, while Liu explores the potential of low-alcohol drinks. Meanwhile, Liang upcycles food leftovers for cocktails that are influenced by Cantonese culture and local products.

Science Innovators

Nidiya Kusmaya, Sukabumi, Indonesia
Combining food and textiles to help solve one of the world’s largest sources of pollution, textile artist Nidiya Kusmaya is creating environmentally-friendly dyes and pigments manufactured from pruned plants, damaged vegetables and fruit peelings, as well as micro fungi and bacteria, resulting in a more sustainable way to produce clothing.

Risha Jasmine Nathan, New Delhi, India
This forensic scientist is working on a low-cost and environmentally safe solution for water contamination. Utilising biosorption techniques, her idea to use agricultural waste products as ‘green filters’ could prove to be the most sustainable way to remove contaminants such as heavy metals from the water supply.

Verleen Goh, Singapore
Goh co-founded Alchemy Foodtech, a company that makes a powder from peas and beans that is added to rice, noodles and bread products to lower glucose release as well as provide beneficial prebiotic fibres that aid gut health and immunity. In doing so, these processes cann reduce the incidence and improve the management of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Tech Disruptors

Fengru Lin, Singapore
Lin is the co-founder and CEO of TurtleTree, a biotech company that uses stem cell technology to produce milk by extracting cells from mammals, reducing the use of animal products and their effect on the environment. The company is also launching human lactoferrin, a cell-based commercial product that can help strengthen the immune system, improve gut health and benefit brain development.

Trailblazing Activists

Nidhi Pant, Mumbai, India
Pant co-founded S4S (Science for Society) Technologies to tackle some of the most challenging issues that farmers and the food industry face today. She designed an electricity-free, solar-powered food dehydrator to alleviate the hunger of vulnerable communities and help farmers preserve crop yields, making them last for as long as a year without chemicals. Her mission is also focused on women in the industry and trains them to use their machines along with practical marketing and finance strategies.

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