The spirit of plant-based collaboration is back in the air as Grassroots Pantry welcomes two more of Hong Kong’s top chefs into our kitchen for Part Two of The Collective’s Table guest chef series! Following the sold-out success of Part One (starring Chef Richard Ekkebus of Two Michelin Star Amber and Chef Vinny Lauria from Hong Kong favourite, Linguini Fini), Grassroots Pantry Executive Chef Peggy Chan is throwing down the green gauntlet once more!
As conscious eating continues to rise in popularity and appeal, chefs from across the entire restaurant spectrum are adapting to the times in order to satisfy increasing demand for excellence in meat-free options. No longer a niche concept for health nuts, the challenge for chefs today is to expand their lean and green arsenal without sacrificing an ounce of flavour, quality and heart along the way.
This fall, we open our doors to two more exceptional chefs as we challenge them to exit their comfort zones and cook a meat-free multi-course menu without the “creature comforts” they’re used to cooking with! First up is Executive Chef Joey Sergentakis of Mr & Mrs Fox and The Continental, who will cook at Grassroots on the evening of September 21 to create a menu inspired heavily by Greek cuisine and his Greek heritage. Next up on October 10, is Chef Neil Tomes, co-owner of Mavericks in Lantau and Tandoori Bro!, presenting British classics.
For dinner service on one night only, each guest chef will cook alongside Chef Peggy to create a collaborative 7-course menu. Each side will prepare a starter, a main course and a dessert in the culinary style of the guest chef, using only vegetarian elements. Each special menu’s signature dishes will also be served at Grassroots Pantry for the rest of the week after the event, with a portion of the proceeds from service on event night going to a charity chosen by the guest chef. Both menus are $780 (+10% S.C.) with an option of organic wine pairing by La Cabane a Vin for an addition of $380 per person.
“I think this is going to be lots of fun,” says Chef Joey. “Peggy has been a good friend of mine since I moved to Hong Kong back in 2009, so getting a chance to cook with her is going to be great. The menu will focus on Greek cuisine, being half-Greek myself, so this will give me the chance to put a bit of my childhood on the plate. My father was a chef and cooks at home often, so these are my inspirations for this special dinner. I am not at all concerned about cooking vegetarian; it is going to be very natural. Vegetables are a big part of Greek food. But most of all, I am proud to be a part of an event like this that will give back to a special cause like the Joshua Hellmann Foundation for Orphan Disease.”
The menu opens with a delicious selection of canapés, starring Cauliflower Sfougata sprinkled with piquant ají amarillo pepper dust and Steamed Dolmades, tasty parcels of lotus leaf, short grain brown rice and pine nuts by Chef Peggy alongside Tirasalata with fresh cucumber, smoked ricotta, bell peppers and preserved lemon coulis by Chef Joey. The starters offer a delightful first course of A Gyro Salad by Chef Peggy, showcasing white bean spread, oregano hedgehog mushroom, pickled kohirabi and potato chicharonne tossed in a toothsome cashew tzatziki, followed by a second course perfect for cheese lovers with Chef Joey’s Halloumi Saganaki with asparagus, mint, honey, lemon and Kalamata olive oil.
For your main course, Chef Peggy’s Philinos showcases savoury charred koji tofu, Jerusalem artichoke scallops and handmade orzo in a summery lemon-caper dressing. Chef Joey responds with his Pastitsio “Primavera”, featuring scrumptious Greek cheese Kefalograviera, tomato fondu and fragrant nutmeg. There’s always room for dessert, especially when it’s Chef Joey’s Galaktoboureko, a flaky, gorgeous Greek custard pie with crispy phyllo pastry and candied orange, as well as Chef Peggy’s Glyka Tou Koutaliou, a rich fruity delight of Kefir crème fraîche, melon marmalade, sprouted pumpkin seed crumble, honeycomb and toasted coconut cigars. The menu finishes on a sweet note with Little Fiery Endings, featuring raw halvaline and apricot jerky.
A portion of the proceeds will go to the Joshua Hellmann Foundation For Orphan Disease, a charitable foundation for children born with unknown illnesses. If you can’t make the event, don’t worry – signature dishes from the menu will be available at Grassroots Pantry for the rest of the week until September 25.
“Growing up in Montreal, Greek and Mediterranean food was everywhere. The smell of fresh feta, halloumi, oregano and olives from the market is a scent that remains very familiar to me. The biggest difficulty is certainly to re-create the lightness and taste of fresh fish and seafood popular in Greek cuisine,” says Peggy, “Most likely I will never cook Greek food as best as Joey’s grandmother can, but we will definitely give it a good fight!”
Chef Neil Tomes will cook at Grassroots on Monday, October 10, presenting British classics together with Chef Peggy. Guests begin with a platter of Chef Neil’s Skinny Dippers With A Sense of Hummus, showcasing an array of creamy tahini-based dips: spiced cashew nut and tahini, spinach and paneer with tahini and black olive with tahini, followed by a classic vegetarian Fish & Chips by Chef Peggy, cashew tartare dusted with kelp powder and dipped in apple cider vinaigrette.
Next up are the mains, and there’s nothing more British than a Full English. Chef Neil’s vegetarian reinvention is a revolution, with thin layers of smoked aubergine bacon and mushroom sausage alongside fat Spanish beans and tomatoes. Offering pure home comfort, A Proper Stew by Chef Peggy features roasted hedgehog mushroom, autumn baby vegetables, edamame and an indulgent organic brown rice green pea risotto.
For dessert, Chef Neil’s Avo Go combines popular super-food avocado with cocoa, coconut cream, cinnamon, caraway vanilla and brown sugar, while Chef Peggy’s Lemon Posset Indulgence is a wonder of tart sweetness, with lemon curd, coconut whip, vegan shortbread, toasted shredded coconut and Raiz-The-Bar raw chocolate. The evening ends with a gorgeous selection of Full Blown English Treats: a Double Decker, peppermint patties and fruit pastilles.
“I’m only just finding the world of pulses, vegetables, fruits, seeds, berries, seaweeds, fungi…the list goes on,” says Chef Neil, “There is, whether right or wrong, a dire need in the world for people to stop stuffing their mouths with so much meat. I was really inspired after eating at Peggy’s and hope that I can get a little more understanding first hand of vegetarian cuisine that could save the planet. It’s like learning a new language, when I’ve spoken meat most of my life.”
Part of the proceeds from the event will go to Harmony House, a one-stop community providing services for families affected by domestic violence. Signature dishes from the menu will be available for the rest of the week at Grassroots Pantry until October 16.
The next Collective’s Table will return in November with more leading guest chefs applying their art in the Grassroots kitchen.
108 Hollywood Road, G/F, Shop D, Central