Drew is unsure whether these new lists for Latin America and Asia will endure post-pandemic, but it seems clear that there is a place for such collections––there are always F&B professionals preserving traditions or looking out for their communities who deserve to be celebrated.
In Hong Kong, for example, we love Dignity Kitchen, which was founded in Singapore but expanded to Hong Kong in January 2020 and provides training and employment for the disabled in its restaurant; Gingko House, which creates employment opportunities for the elderly and supports Hong Kong’s farms through the use of local organic vegetables in its six restaurants; and Pei Ho Counterparts, whose owner Ming Gor provides free lunchboxes to the elderly and homeless.
In Singapore, local champion Damian d’Silva seeks to preserve the city-state’s heritage cuisine, recreating lost and forgotten recipes at Restaurant Kin; as does chef Violet Oon who has made it her mission to celebrate Singapore’s Nyonya cuisine, as well as the city’s Chinese, Indian and Malay heritage, through the dishes at her eponymous restaurant.
Chef JP Anglo’s Sarsa restaurants in the Philippines serve traditional Filipino-Negrense cuisine while highlighting indigenous ingredients and the chef has also been involved in feeding frontliners during the pandemic; while we also love Gallery by Chele and Deli by Chele where chef Chele Gonzalez strives to discover the flavours, techniques and customs of the food culture of the Philippines, particularly by learning directly from local farmers.
These are just a few of the names we believe deserve to appear on the Essence of Asia list when it is released on March 16. Additionally, we hope that the Essence of Asia list will extend 50 Best’s geographic footprint, representing the hospitality sector in countries like Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam, whose restaurants currently do not feature on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
In these challenging times for F&B, any initiative that seeks to support the hospitality sector, spotlighting success and presenting opportunities for the industry to grow and leverage platforms that organisations such as Asia’s 50 best have built, is to be applauded. Of course, there will be many who are not recognised, but this celebration should nevertheless be a moment of hope and positivity amid the darkness of the last year.
Related: DeAille Tam Of Shanghai’s Obscura Has Been Named Asia’s Best Female Chef 2021