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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Sustainability has never been this delicious

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It was an eight-hands dinner like no other – promoting the best of Singaporean and Filipino flavors while championing sustainability.

Singapore’s Chef Li Guang “LG” Han of Restaurant Labyrinth and Vijay Mudaliar, Head Bartender and co-owner of Native Bar and Restaurant, partnered with Manila’s Chef Jordy Navarra of TOYO Eatery and Chef Stephan Duhesme of Metiz for an exclusive 10-course on September 17, 2023.

“At Restaurant Labyrinth, our local produce advocacy is grounded on sustainability. We are proud to say that anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of the ingredients used in our dishes come from within Singapore,” said Chef Han.

Inihaw na puso ng saging with munggo aioli

Founded in 2014, one Michelin-starred Restaurant Labyrinth has consistently been included in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list for three years now, and has earned a spot among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants this year.

“Singapore is an island city. There is definitely a lack of space. But despite all the challenges we face, we all have to do our little part for the next generation,” he added.

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For his part, Mudaliar, a sustainability titan in Singapore’s bar scene, pioneered a form of urban foraging in Singapore that focuses on wild food resources and incorporates them into cocktails.

Chili crab with local tomatoes

“The cocktails I prepare reflect the philosophies I believe in. There is always room to improve in our efforts toward sustainability,” he said.

Mudaliar’s Native cocktail bar, which focuses on ingredients sourced locally and regionally, has since expanded to include a restaurant with mostly pescatarian and vegetarian options, and a fermentation lab within its three-floor space on Singapore’s Amoy Street.

Han and Mudaliar’s collaboration with Manila-based chefs Navarra and Duhesme is part of the Asian Culinary Exchange (ACE) organized by chef and food writer Angelo Comsti. This year’s edition of ACE is designed to showcase Singapore through a series of cross-cultural collaborations between Singaporean and Filipino chefs.

Chef Vijay Mudaliar’s cocktail made with Roku gin, white peony, calamansi and gingerflower

The exchange is part of Serve It, Singapore! – a project of the Singapore Tourism Board that brings a slew of one-of-a-kind dining experiences straight from the culinary capital of Singapore to delight the palates of Filipino foodies.

Fang Xun Ong, Philippines Area Director of STB, said: “Singapore has long acknowledged sustainability as a vital part of its present and future. Collectively, we have been taking steps to develop innovative experiences with a reduced impact on the environment.”

“Sustainability is not just a buzzword. It is time we start normalizing sustainability in the food industry,” Comsti added.

Cold somen with white kimchi

TOYO Eatery, for example, bagged this year’s Flor De Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award due to its commitment to minimize its carbon footprint and to source local ingredients. It also has the distinction of holding the 42nd spot among Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2023.

“Sustainability for us at TOYO Eatery is cultivating the relationships we have with the people that nurture our country. We are delighted to be recognized for our commitment to upholding our heritage and seeing how closing loops forms part of a larger conversation on sustainability,” Navarra said.

TOYO Eatery’s take on fried ensaymada topped with ubod puree and chopped mustard leaves

Metiz, on the other hand, debuted at the 48th spot among Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2023 thanks to its sustainable practice of using local produce to delight diners in surprising and ingenious ways.

“I think of Metiz as a creative space that serves food. We collectively share a unified vision on how to present food, and that vision involves promoting ingredients easily found in the country and sourcing them from farmers that adhere to sustainable agricultural practices,” Duhesme said.

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