FUTURE GREEN TEAM VISIT TOKYO
FOOD SUSTAINABILITY KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES
Future Green Hong Kong Team with Takeshi San and Tokyo chefs!
FUTURE GREEN IS INVITED TO VISIT FOODEX TRADE SHOW TOKYO, JAPAN
Every year, FOODEX brings together worldwide F&B industry leaders from food manufacturers, suppliers, consultants and many more. As the largest food-themed trade show in Asia, it only made sense for us, at Future Green, to be there. With 30,000 annual visitors from the F&B industry and almost 2,000 booths, FOODEX was held at Tokyo Big Sight this year.
Thanks to The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) Japan’s unwavering support alongside JMA (Japan Management Association) and SRA UK, the Future Green Team and 7 of our Member chefs were invited to attend FOODEX held between 7th and 10th March. Chefs Richard Ekkebus from the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Raul Tronco from Ovolo Hotels, Gustavo Mora from Uma Nota, Harry Yuen and Ringo Li from Kin Food Halls, Sheldon Fonseca from The Mira, Kyle Lee from Honjokko and Andrea Viglione from Pirata Group joined us on this exciting trip – our first group trip overseas!
“As individuals, we can do small things in our efforts to improve on sustainability, but collectively, as a group, we can have a bigger impact.”
Sheldon Fonseca – Culinary Director, The Mira Hong Kong
DAY 1: DINNER AT FARO – WHAT A VEGAN TREAT!
Overlooking the glittering lights and opulent boutiques of Ginza, our adventure began at one of Tokyo’s most acclaimed Italian-Japanese fusion restaurants (and a Food Made Good Japan Member) – FARO. Chefs Kotaro Noda and Mineko Kato rose to the challenge of putting together an entirely vegan 8-course tasting menu, paired with splendid wines, sake, and non-alcoholic concoctions. From the innovative use of local flowers, seasonal vegetables and dairy-free cheeses to the impeccable presentation, it was truly a one-of-a-kind gastronomical experience.
Meeting SRA Japan Team with worldwide Chefs and the Team at Faro
Vegan treats at Faro including Flower Tart, Vegan Tiramisu, Dairy-free cheese
DAY 2: MEETING SUSTAINABLE SUPPLIERS
One of the purposes of this trip was to provide an opportunity for chefs and buyers in Hong Kong to meet suppliers from Japan and Asia. Business meetings were pre-arranged online according to preferences indicated by our chefs from Hong Kong. From sake to soy sauce, from Satoyama grass-fed beef to Hiroshima rope-grown oysters, our chefs met with food producers from all over Japan who were proud to showcase their products to an international audience. Unfortunately we have a way to go with suppliers with sustainable practices but at least we got to share our supplier questions to encourage best practice.
Richard Ekkebus and Sam Scott
Richard Ekkebus meeting Japanese suppliers
One of the other highlights of FOODEX was a panel discussion on building restaurants that are “good for the people and good for the planet”. Accompanied by Chef Sam Scott from Ozone Coffee Roasters in London and Chef Takashi Oshima from Bottega Blu in Ashiya (Hyogo Prefecture, Japan), Chef Richard Ekkebus reminded us of the challenges around food waste and the indulgent and sometimes excessive requests of Hong Kong diners, as well as how important it is to train staff around sustainability from day 1 to foster a truly transformative transition.
FOODEX was not only the occasion to meet people from all over the world, it was also fantastic to experience the sheer diversity of attendees – learn from their sustainability initiatives, stories and, of course, indulge in numerous tastings!
FOODEX 2023 at Tokyo Big Sight
Panel Discussion with Chef Sam Scott from Ozone Coffee Roasters in London and Chef Takashi Oshima from Bottega Blu in Ashiya (Hyogo Prefecture, Japan) and Chef Richard Ekkebus
The day ended at the Capitol Tokyu Hotel for, you guessed it, more food and networking! We got to hear from SRA Japan and their commitment to gathering a like-minded community of restaurants all across Japan – all led by Takeshi Shimotaya San and his incredibly dedicated team. It was very encouraging to hear from our Japanese counterparts and how they carry sustainable practices in their day-to-day activities here in Japan. Heidi was invited on stage to share how we evolved to be Future Green while keeping an active and dedicated membership-based community, and reminding us that food sustainability is not solely about the F&B industry, but goes beyond and concerns everyone from farmers, schools, corporations, retailers to individuals.
“On my side it was an amazing experience. Loved to connect with people and know how Tokyo F&B operates. I met very nice people, and I’m really happy with this experience.”
Raul Tronco – Executive Chef, Ovolo Hotels
Heidi on stage at the Capitol Tokyu Hotel
Japan has long been known to be, during the Edo period, a self-sufficient and insular society relying on whatever nature had to offer. With its many rich and ancestral food traditions respecting nature, the SRA Japan is carrying on this legacy encouraging and helping restaurants all across Japan operate more sustainably and closer to nature.
“The most inspiring thing that I feel is the passion and respect of domestic market workers for their job. Life is fast and becomes more competitive, I believe Future Green will be able to assist in improving the entire supply chain.”
Ringo Li – Head of Procurement & Resourcing at KIN Food Halls
DAY 3: LEARNING ABOUT SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD IN JAPAN
After the brouhaha of the trade show, it was Heidi’s turn to go on the field and experience a tour of the Toyosu Fish Market. With only four persons allowed into the buyer area per tour guide we got a private tour of the fish market and vegetable market. Both with their very own distinct atmospheres. Heidi got to taste maguro (bluefin tuna)- three types of cuts, and as we saw not a single part of the fish was wasted. The advice was to start from the least fattiest and then the medium, the the most fattiest (and to wash it down with sake). What a treat!
Bluefin Tuna, one of the most sought-after species of fish
Knife- sharpening at Toyosu Market, a truly Japanese craftsmanship
We were then treated to a delightful and educational lunch at Sustainable Kitchen Rosy. Tucked away in a quiet street by Kanda Station, Rosy is a small sustainability-minded Western restaurant and wine bar. We had the pleasure of hearing from Louie Okamoto from Umito Partners – an SRA Japan partner- on sustainable seafood challenges in Japan.
With the aging fishermen population and the reluctance of the younger generations to work in fisheries as well as the depletion of many species such as bluefin tuna, Umito Partners has stepped up to help local fisheries become more sustainable through workshops, supporting fisheries to attain MSC/ASC certification, with their Fishery and Aquaculture Improvement Projects (FIP). Helping fishermen to understand sustainability challenges and change their business models, they have successfully enabled several fisheries to attain sustainability certifications throughout Japan and have revitalized communities in remote regions.
We also heard from the CEO of Kaiko Bussan, a sea perch fishery in the Tokyo Bay, who, in order to supply fish for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, had to work towards MSC certification with the help of Umito Partner’s FIP Programme. What a great surprise when we found out that he and his team had personally fished the sea perch used in the quiche we had for lunch!
Louie Okamoto from Umito Partners and CEO of Kaiko Bussan sharing about their experience
Sea perch quiche and salad for lunch
A massive thank you to Takeshi – San for putting together this trip and for hosting us in Japan. We can only imagine how much effort and work went into all the planning.
“I was delighted to participate at the talks in collaboration with Food Made Good Japan at FOODEX in Tokyo. Not only to meet our colleagues operating with the same mind set to change the way we operate our food systems, but also to share our best practice with the trade in Japan. The social events were a great opportunity to connect in more detail with our Japanese peers and learn from their experience. It was refreshing after 3 years of pandemic to meet industry peers internationally and we hope that there are many more opportunities to have these cross-cultural experiences.”
Richard Ekkebus – Director of Culinary Operations and Food and Beverage at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental & President of Future Green
It was also a great bonding experience for the Future Green team allowing us to take some time out of the office, share great meals from yakitori, ramen, gyozas to sushis, walk around in the beautiful streets of Asakusa and enjoy the splendid weather. Let’s see where our passion for sustainable food systems brings us next time!
The Future Green Dream Team in front of the Tokyo Tower
Interested in more?
6 steps to turning messy ideas into concrete next steps with The British Chamber of Commerce3rd November
From Healthy Kids Menu to Asian-Inspired Delights: SpiceBox Organics Revamps Catering Services, Championing Sustainability and Clean Eating in Hong Kong12th October