Peggy Chan has always been passionate about food and sustainable living, so it’s no surprise she’s the Executive Chef and Managing Director of Grassroots Pantry, a hip organic and vegetarian restaurant on Hollywood Road.
Born and partially raised in Hong Kong, Chan spent some years in Canada before moving back home in 2011, where she decided to start Grassroots Pantry to promote conscious eating in Hong Kong. We caught up with Chan to find out her favourite places to shop for organic food in Hong Kong, and address some misconceptions on healthy eating.
First of all, what are you up to at the moment?
Just the usual daily grind as well as working on a platform/support system that is as solid as rock. It’s not possible to do it all on your own, so investing in the right people for the right tasks is what I’ve been spending a lot of my energy on currently.
Can you tell us a little more about your background?
I grew up with food being the centre of every topic, and food has always brought the family closer. Growing up in Montreal, I believe I have French DNA in my genetic make-up. And when work has meaning, it doesn’t ever feel like work. I am a F&B girl through and through; no bullshit, quick-thinking and solutions-oriented.
What inspired you to start Grassroots Pantry?
I realised very few people know the reality of what was happening in our food system – the inequality and injustice of how food is grown, raised, processed, manufactured and distributed was something I felt strongly wronged about, and felt the need to do something about it.
After a trip to Dharamsala, compassion and being able to feel true contentment gave me the courage to open up Grassroots.
What is a typical breakfast for you?
Matcha-Moringa parfait with homemade coconut kefir yogurt, sprouted almonds and brown rice puffs, and poached or fried eggs on smashed avocado.
Any form of brown rice concoction like curry with brown rice or fried Nepalese brown rice. I generally eat 90 percent of my meals at Grassroots.
Your top 5 favourite restaurants in Hong Kong?
- Posto Pubblico
- 121 BC
- Cafe Gray
- Deadend Cafe
- Ho Lee Fook
Favourite place to shop for organic food in Hong Kong?
- La Cabane a Vin for a delicious, superbly ad hoc selection of wines
- Just Green for everyday things
- Sai Ying Pun Wet Market
- Tong Chong Street Market on Sundays
- The farms!
Finally, what do you think are the biggest misconceptions about eating healthy that you would like to clear up?
- That it must taste bland, chalky and consist of oats and beans.
- If the dish tastes bland and chalky, most likely it has to do with the chef cooking or the ingredients were handled.