Heidi Spurrell | 12th August 2021 | 4min read

Photo: Gagan Gurung of Tell Camellia (left), Kervin Unido Head Bartender of Please Don’t Tell (middle) and Heidi Spurrell from Food Made Good (right)

Written by Sarah-Jane Tucker

Food Made Good members entered into this month’s sustainability series meet-up through a secret phone booth, to mix our focus on the society pillar: Treat Staff Fairly, with legendary cocktails at Please Don’t Tell (PDT). Head bartender Kervin generously delighted us with PDT impossible sliders and a choice of signature cocktails and mocktails thought the evening.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals highlight the significant contribution an employer can make to our environment, through the act of drawing people away from poverty, by providing equal opportunities for decent work and meaningful future development prospects. While hospitality has historically held a reputation for low paid work and high staff turnover, Food Made good explored best practice for continuous improvements towards treating staff fairly.

Since the cost of living is notoriously expensive in Hong Kong, (which underscores the importance of providing a fair and reasonable wage), wider aspects contribute towards greatly improved working conditions; including flexible working, transparent employment policies, support with travel to work, health insurance and paid overtime, to name but few.


Photo: Davis Bookhart from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology


From The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), our first speaker, Davis Bookhart, is in the enviable position of being a professor at one of the most sustainable universities on earth; the existing campus is a Living Laboratory and the planned second campus affords the opportunity to build from scratch and thereby integrate
sustainability from the outset! Its a place where a fundamental rebrand of sustainability has taken place: ‘From its preachy, laborious origins, sustainability is now recognised simply as appreciation, and we apply it to everything we do,’ says Davis.

By way of example, HKUST surveyed all the cleaning staff on campus to understand the key issues facing these workers and gauge the level of job satisfaction, support and well being each person perceived in their role. The results lead to a new performance based contract with the cleaning contractor, which included a requirement for evidence that employees were being treated well, based upon a score matrix and a measure of the number of positive suggestions the cleaning team offered their supervisors each month. In return an added 3% bonus would go directly to the employees if performance improved to the required standard.

The project has since been a major success and this gesture of gratitude has lead to happier people, delivering better work and saving high staff turnover costs by reducing the turnover rate to almost zero. Although there was a higher initial outlay to provide a performance based contract in the beginning, the campus enjoys a better service and the
cleaning contractor saves money by reducing the recruitment and training costs it would otherwise endure to provide new staff.


Photo: Crystal Lam from Oxfam (left), Wong Shek Hung from Oxfam (middle) and Heidi Spurrell from Food Made Good (right)

Photo: Kal from Pizza Express and  Tim at Eat the Kiwi with Food Made Good HK CEO Heidi


A big thank you to the LMO team, Richard, Gregoire and Kervin to name a few for helping us getting this off the ground, we appreciate your support. The Sustainability Meet-Up Series is a monthly gathering designed to educate and empower the Hong Kong foodservice community – chefs, restaurateurs, FOH, BOH, suppliers and sustainability leads.


Photo: Fantastic impossible sliders and tater tots to compliment the delicious cocktails 


Inspired by our framework, the programme is curated to inspire the community, in novel ways through which they can bring in small but significant changes to their sourcing choices, menu design and supplies. We will be organising talks delivered by sustainable food industry leaders, on various themes linked to UN International Days and our three pillars -Sourcing, Society and the Environment.


Photo: Food Made Good team at the end of another successful event!