Dessert of pine nut, Amalfi lemon, rosemary and cacao nib. Photo: Debbie Wong
To the general public, it might seem that Amber’s transformation came rather quickly, when in fact, it began nearly 15 years ago, with the implementation of segregated waste. Among working closely with WWF to source sustainable seafood, filtering their own mineral water rather than importing, and carefully sourcing ethical coffee, sugar and chocolate, as of next year, Mandarin Oriental worldwide will have eliminated single use plastic, an initiative that began 7 years ago. Richard’s leadership at the Mandarin Oriental around sustainability has helped change the company’s policies not only in Hong Kong, but globally. As for the menu, his next aim is for it to be 75% plant based.
Equally as important to Richard’s work in sustainability is what he calls “pollinating”: building, growing and educating a team and community that will spread the word through their actions, and ensure the movement continues. For example, Amber’s chef jackets are made by a local independent shirt maker, and the restaurant’s artwork is by a homegrown independent artist. Richard understands that a 360-degree approach is the key to being a sustainable business, as well as to sustain as a business; for him these concepts are symbiotic, just like our relationship as humans to our planet.
Thank you, chef, for sharing your story and inspiring work with me.
Related: Six Tips to Kickstart Your Sustainable Lifestyle
Debbie Wong is a professional cook, writer and classically trained actor based in Hong Kong. She is the host of Food Wars Asia, Kitchen Quickies, and her ongoing international culinary series on YouTube - Debbie Wong’s Wok and Gong. Follow her on all socials @ms.debbiewong.
This article was created in partnership with Food Made Good HK.