Chef Vicky Lau is a leader in her industry. She was named Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2015— but that controversial title is not what this story is about. Lau, who has recently re-opened her beloved Tate Dining Room & Bar, and the attached patisserie, Poem, has taken an environmental stance with her restaurant, subtly incorporating sustainable elements throughout, and setting an example for the rest of the industry. Originally a designer by trade, she brings her artistic talents to each dish, or ‘edible story’ she creates, and it’s this peerless attention to detail and natural sensitivity that sets her apart from her peers. Here she talks to us about her newest creation, “edible stories” and more.
What was the inspiration behind Tate Dining Room and Bar?
Tate Dining Room & Bar is a blank canvas whereby I can create new and exciting things to share with the world, it allows me the opportunity to embrace past, present and future sensations. I can tell stories through every bite of my food. I am able combine my love for food and design into Tate, where guests can share and experience my passion in what we call “Edible Stories”.
Has the concept evolved with the new space?
The new Tate reflects an updated and more sophisticated style that evolved alongside my personal and culinary journey. Here in the new space, I am given more space to create and explore entirely new projects.
How are you making your restaurant more environmentally friendly?
We plant our own sweet potato leaves as table decoration rather than using flowers that need to be replaced often and we use eco-leather tablecloths that can be wiped clean. They’re easy to maintain and durable, and do not need to be replace as often or laundered.
What inspired you to take this sustainable approach?
Being more sustainable comes hand in hand with having respect for our home. We share this planet with seven billion other people, if our taking this action can help us maintain this world for the next generation I believe it is our prerogative and our honour.
Are your food & beverage offerings sustainable as well?
We offer eco-friendly bottled still and sparkling mineral water that are bottled in-house using a premium filtered system. The environment has a massive impact in our well-being, quite literally we would not be here without it. It affects us socially as well as culturally, therefore we aim to source the best and most eco-friendly ingredients in all our products. We encourage the use of seasonal and local grown produce as well as a vegetarian menu.
What effects do you hope this approach has on the general community?
I hope this can also heighten the awareness of environmental protection and pose a positive impact on the world we live in. If we all make small changes towards the right direction it will eventually make a difference.
What effect do you hope this approach has on the culinary community?
The role of chef is now changing as we are becoming more aware of our influence on our surroundings. I hope that this can encourage others to be proactive with their social responsibility and food ethics and give more back to the community. We also hope that by making this step towards being more sustainable we can alter the way the service industry works, to show that you do not have to compromise one important element for another.
How do you feel about the concept of, ‘the future is female’? What does it mean to you?
It means to me that like-minded women who are driven and passionate about what they are doing and their surroundings will prosper in male-driven industries. We have the push that is currently lacking. The future is female, it is inevitable.
Who are the women that have inspired you throughout your life?
I have had many inspirations throughout my life, from people I have met, heard, and seen. If you are lucky you will be given the chance to draw inspirations from all types of women, everyone has overcome obstacles that you cannot begin to understand, every woman has something to teach.
Do you rely on a female network? If so, how?
In Hong Kong, we’re a very tight knit community. In general I don’t believe in the segregation of male and female, I rely on the network between friends, family and business partners.