Peggy is the founder of popular plant-based cuisine restaurant Grassroots Pantry in Hong Kong SAR. As someone who is passionate about preserving and improving our eco-environment, she shares how her journey towards living out her passion began and the source of her perseverance.

When I realized my passion lay in the culinary arts, I enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa and graduated with a Diploma in Cuisine and Pastry. However I wanted to learn more about restaurant management, so I chose to go to Swiss Hotel Management School to take on a Higher Diploma in Hotel and Resort Management and Events. Being able to start directly in the second year of the course was an added advantage! In my final year, I chose Business Administration as my major before I moved on to Hotel Institute Montreux to complete my Bachelor in Business Administration while specializing in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

At school, I appreciated the open learning environment, which gave me freedom and space to do my own research on the food, farming, and organic industries. I was interested in the economics of these industries, consumption choices, and in understanding strategic planning. We were encouraged to be creative and I began to think about what it meant to run an ethical business. That charted the course for my career.

It is little gains and rewards such as changes in mindsets and practices that motivate me to keep doing what I do. I began The Collective’s Table, a series of collaborative dinners where I invite professional chefs in Hong Kong SAR and around the globe to come cook, develop, and taste plant-based cuisine. More importantly, I want them to experience for themselves the benefits that stand to be gained from adopting sustainable food practices and a meatless diet. I seize every opportunity I can to share what I have learned, through consulting, speaking at schools, or joining panels.

Slowly but surely, our advocacy is changing mindsets and practices. Beyond serving plant-based cuisine, changing industry practices is also something I have been working on.

“When I see chefs make conscious decisions to recycle and minimise food waste, as well as change their menus to feature food sources that are sustainable and kinder to the environment, or even convert to veganism themselves, I celebrate these victories.”

I want to continue to expand the horizons of what can be created with plant-based foods and to show everyone that eating vegetarian/vegan can go beyond being a special occasion but become a norm. I also hope to contribute to changing the current curriculum (for culinary courses and schools) to incorporate sustainable, eco-friendly teachings.

“My journey has taught me that challenges are always going to come my way, like it or not. I face challenges every single day.”

As an Food & Beverage entrepreneur with a social mission in mind, I have to battle challenges that are multi-layered, from changing the mindsets of stakeholders to working to improve the processes that go from farming right through to distribution, to how we process and consume our food and dispose of waste. It’s huge – we can’t overcome these all at once.

Every morning I wake up disappointed with the way things are, but I will not let that stop me.

One way I’ve learned to overcome these obstacles is by harnessing my strengths and making them work for me. For example, I am an introvert by nature and appear quiet and reserved. But that is because I choose to listen and observe before deciding what to say or what my next course of action will be. When I speak up, I make sure my message is heard.

I’ve also learned to embrace adversity. I try to do things that take me out of my comfort zone because that’s the best way to learn. Taking up a degree in Business Administration was something that seemed out of my league; however, I knew what I wanted to do and it seemed the best way to equip myself. So I worked hard, and it was so rewarding when I achieved good grades and more importantly, a wealth of knowledge!

Return To:  E-newsletter Jul 2021