Monday, July 16, 2012

Food Hero Tuesday: Melanie White of Genie!

Note from the Editor: Every Tuesday, TFT HK will bring you a post or article from/about one of our local or global food heroes. These are people who inspire us, and whose visions align with the values that TFT espouses and promotes. This week's post is from Melanie White, co-creator (with Cara Grogan) of Genie Concepts, the new and already extremely popular juice cleanse supplier that also has a lovely cafe in Sheung Wan (G/F, 5-13 New Street). Before creating Genie, Melanie worked in fashion and owned her own line of shoes and handbags. Now, her focus is helping Genie's clients be their best, healthiest selves. Melanie, we at TFT HK salute you!

Hey Melanie! Thanks so much for being a TFT HK food hero. Tell us a bit about yourself!

Well, I moved to HK 5 years ago. I work in fashion, and had my own brand of shoes and handbags that I produced in China, so naturally, I decided to base myself here for business. I also had good friends living in the city (i.e. my business partner Cara!) so it was a really easy move. I wanted to get more experience in the international market, so from there I started working for a swimwear brand which is sold across the globe in over 17 countries.

It sounds like you've always been entrepreneurial! When were you first introduced to juice cleanses?

I travel a lot for work and first came across juice cleanses on a trip to New York. A good friend of mine was living there and was really into it. When I came back to HK I wanted to try one myself but there were no options available.

So that desire to have good juice cleansing options to improve your own health partly fueled your decision to create Genie Concepts here. What else influenced your choice to develop your business in HK?

We all struggle in the city to look after ourselves, living such a busy and fast-paced lifestyle, and we have very few options for good fresh food. Cara and I are long time best friends and quite often would brainstorm business ideas together. When we got to talking about Genie, it was the perfect fit. The business model is so well suited to the HK lifestyle. Genie is like a reset button. And we were sure that everyone in the city could benefit from it, and really needed it!

How do you develop your juices and juice-cleansing programs?

We did a lot of research on juicing and spoke with nutritionists here in HK and in Australia. Armed with that knowledge, we then developed the beverages ourselves, based on our own personal taste and creativity. We really wanted to make Genie fun and healthy - detox can be off-putting to people when it comes across as clinical.

How often should people cleanse, and why?

We generally recommend cleansing once a month for four + days to really give your digestive system the break it needs. Some people will do one day, once a week. Really, the more fresh pressed
juice you can have in your diet the better. It's so good for you!

Where do you find your ingredients?

We buy both locally grown and imported produce. We have some exciting plans in the pipeline, involving more organic produce!

That's exciting! Which of your juices is your favorite?

That's a tough questions, as of course I love them all! Our machines make the best quality juice on the market. I love the ones made with root vegetables like carrot and beets. I also love kale and pineapple. It's too hard to pick one!

Other than juicing, what do you feel are the best ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle in HK?

Keeping fit most defnitely. I love my yoga, hiking and running. It's so important for a well balanced lifestyle.

Do you eat out or cook more frequently? When you do cook, what are your favorite dishes to prepare?

Probably 50/50. I am very busy so don't always have the time to cook, although I would love to. When I cook I like to keep it very healthy - lots of vegetables (salads and stir fries)! I recently got a BBQ on my roof and am loving grilling fresh fish (mostly salmon) and paring that with a salad.

What do you love and hate about the food/dining scene in HK?

I love Asian food, and HK is full of little gems which are well-priced and delicious. I don't love that there is little choice for good, fresh Western foods, sandwiches and salads, cafes and bakeries. We are really spoilt in Australia for choice. We would love to offer moderately priced food like this at Genie cafe eventually.

Well we can't wait to try everything at Genie Cafe! Why did you decide to donate part of your proceeds to charity (Genie has chosen TFT HK as its charity of the month for July!)? Thank you again for supporting us, and thank you for sharing your story with us today!

We promote Genie as a way to feel good from the inside, out. Part of feeling good should involve giving back to one's community! There are a lot of people out there working hard for different causes and we are so happy to be able to help support and promote them. In addition to organizations that help to address issues involving food and food systems (like TFT!), we want to focus on charities that work with animals and children.

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