KIRRAsks: Ma...and The Seeds of Life #GreenPass
First on our list is Ma…and The Seeds of Life, a new plant-based restaurant by Chef Tina Barrat, who's well-known to have contributed a lot in the growing Hong Kong plant-based community.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and the story behind the restaurant?
In a previous life, I was a fashion designer and had my own jewelry brand, which sold in Europe and at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong. I opened my first restaurant in 2013, and as a chef I transitioned from vegetarian with vegan and raw vegan options to fully vegan when we moved from Wanchai to Sheung Wan (the same building as Green Common).
I then ran my own show of pop-up dinners around town before Ma…and The Seeds of Life sprouted into life last year. Finally, settling down in this beautiful place in Central has been the crowning dream for me – to explore the unlimited possibilities of a sophisticated vegan lifestyle while upping the bar of expectations for non-vegans alike.
- How would you describe your restaurant in 3 words, and which are your top 3 dishes?
It’s hard to choose just three words but if I must, then Peace, Beauty and Nourishment. We are a vegan restaurant with a French-European vibe rooted in the goodness of the earth.
Our current top three dishes are Grilled king oyster scallop (a delicious mushroom dish), Chiaviar (chia seeds) served with sour cream and quinoa blinis, and Faux Gras (liver pâté style), but guests love all the imaginative new creations that spring regularly from our kitchen.
- What inspired you to offer a green menu?
My motto since opening my first restaurant has been to offer unprocessed, wholesome, tasty food. This is the way I eat at home and I intend to treat my guests as family members and see them well-nourished and satisfied. For me, eating “green” is a way of keeping strong and healthy.
- What do you think about veganism in Hong Kong? Do you think it is just a short-term trend?
Far from it. With so many big companies now investing in meat and fish alternatives, veganism is not only here to stay but growing every day. Take Green Common and even McDonald’s introducing a meat alternative burger, it is a movement not a trend.
It’s heartening that the younger generation in Hong Kong are more aware of the global climate crisis, and are embracing sustainable living and healthy, cruelty-free dining. They are ready to make the change. And even if it’s one step at a time, the smallest step counts and is hugely important.
- What is your food philosophy?
My philosophy is clean, unprocessed food. I make everything from scratch, using fresh produce and sourcing local, if possible. My team knows that the special ingredient to add while cooking is LOVE and it shows. The food we serve must be as tasty as it is pretty.
- What is your view on climate change? And do you think you are part of the solution to this problem?
In my opinion, we are destroying Planet Earth and the natural habitat of wildlife in order to raise livestock. That is totally unnecessary. If instead of feeding livestock, we could feed the hungry in the world that would be a great step forward for humanity.
And yes, I believe we are part of the solution.
- How would you convince non-vegan folks to reduce their meat consumption?
My way is subtler … I’m not trying to convince, I’m just offering utterly delicious and surprisingly beautiful food. My meat-eater guests always comment: “If this is vegan food, I can be vegan every day.” I have heard this so many times. If by coming to Ma…and The Seeds of Life, people can drop the myth that you must be a rabbit to be a vegan and therefore become open to possibilities, then there is hope for the planet and the next generation. We cannot change the habits of a lifetime overnight, but we change their point of view.
- What’s next for your company?
I have many ideas for our tree to branch out. For starters, I would love to open a second Le Fromage by Ma cheeze shop with a seating area where guests can sample our vegan cheezes alongside wine and a more casual version of Ma…and The Seeds of Life with an outdoor area, or bring our restaurant concept to another country. I’d also like to extend our retail arm to sell our signature products. Thinking even bigger, the ultimate would be to open a vegan boutique hotel with vegan food and a health and fitness area. There are so many possibilities – it just depends on what’s in the stars for Ma…