Monday, September 17, 2012

Food Hero Tuesday: Chef Gregoire Michaud

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, we bring you a post from Chef Gregoire Michauda serious locavore and sustainable food systems advocate who also happens to be the pastry chef at the Four Seasons, an active blogger, and an award-winning cookbook author. In today's post, our food hero recalls a recent dinner he and his fellow Four Seasons chefs created from Zen Organic's produce. Chef Michaud, we at TFT HK salute you!

Locavore feast

Zen Organic figs

"Celebrating Hong Kong's very own food"
By Gregoire Michaud

Could this become a tradition? Could this even become a festival where local food would be praised? I can actually picture the Hong Kong Harvest Festival happening every year during the fall!

No less than ALL the chefs from our kitchens walked the stunning garden alleys of Zen Organic Farm a few weeks ago. Our mission? To harvest figs AND every other fruits and vegetable we felt would fit our dinner on that day! And you know how it went when a star-studded crew of chefs walked around in the most amazing supermarket ever? INSANE!

Left and right, we had tons to choose from and after that, trust me, the dinner was plentiful.  But before we could indulge in our cooking, we had to do a bit of work; first we went to see how the Pitayas were doing since we've planted them a few months ago. They had grown so much! But they were not quite yet to the level where they produce fruits. Then we walked around to see how the coffee plants were doing and it was very exciting to see the beans starting to ripen. It was the first time that I was able to crack open a fresh coffee berry and find the beans inside; of course, it has very little flavor until it gets processed and roasted. Nonetheless, it was great and it was my first Hong Kong grown coffee bean experience. Has anyone had witnessed coffee grown in Hong Kong before?

Hong Kong coffee!
On the way back to the kitchen, we came across a beautiful baby: a wood fire oven! Properly built from scratch, it will be operational very soon. Now, between the oven and me it was love at first sight. The oven needs finishing touches and a long drying and heating process in order to be ready for baking. Once we have the green light, we will have tons of fun (and good food!) The oven not being finished, we brought back a huge tray of fig-bacon-thyme foccacia baked at the hotel: gone within minutes!
Wood-burning oven
Fig Foccacia
While our Michelin-starred chefs were taking care of their BBQ, I prepared the dessert.
The figs from Zen Organic Farm are very sweet, but when I say sweet, think about honey-like sweet! So it made my life even easier: I packed a lot of figs in a cast iron pan, just cut in halves, added a simple cinnamon crumble on top and baked it for 45 minutes. Once baked, I added some buttered roasted almonds on top and we enjoyed the dish with an oozing vanilla sauce. The figs naturally release their juice and sugar to form smooth compote, but also, the skin of these figs is so thin that there is no need for peeling them, unlike other kind of figs.

Chef Michaud's creation

Simple, yet delicious. No fuss, no complexity and mostly: wholesome local produces! Imported goods are of great quality, but too often, their price is out of reach and their carbon footprint is much larger than all of our foot together! If sustainable and organic farming could come back, we could start spreading and sharing the love across Hong Kong, our city.

The other day I caught myself dreaming that if enough locally produced quality goods were on the market, the prices would be lower and the spending power of low-income family would improve. Of course, it was just a dream, but hey, one step at the time, we can make a difference!


  1. Great post ! Hope this dream come true one day!

  2. What a lovely place! Yes - I vote for a festival celebrating Hong Kong's organic farms!