“Hong Kong originally had a reputation that there’s nothing growing here,” says Uwe Opocensky, executive chef of one-MICHELIN-starred Petrus. “But I think there's a lot growing here, especially when you go into the forging and work with the farmers.”
With French cooking at its core, Petrus is lauded by the MICHELIN Guide inspectors for its modernity and ingredient-led menu featuring luxury ingredients that are sourced ethically from far and near.
Known for pushing creative boundaries with his playful approach to plating, Opocensky takes pride in using organic produce grown locally. He believes that chefs have an important role to play when it comes to encouraging diners to eat in a healthier and more sustainable way. “If we make a product delicious, people like it and they will buy it.”
As a board member of Food Made Good, a UK initiative that drives sustainability awareness in the F&B sector, Opocensky is constantly on the lookout for local farmers to work with and actively implementing sustainable practices in the kitchen, including the elimination of single-use plastics and a minimal-waste approach to avoid food waste as much as possible.
On his second visit to the Nespresso farm in Sheung Shui, Opocensky is eager to learn about the vegetables grown in the compost made from used coffee grounds. “Working closely with the food source sparks creativity and helps us [chefs] on the journey of being more sustainable,” he says.
Back in the kitchen, Opocensky prepares a dish called “Eggplant” using local eggplants from the Nespresso farm, which are grown in compost made from used coffee grounds. “When I create a dish, I like to make it fun. The ‘Eggplant’ will take the shape and colour of an actual eggplant, but the interior is deconstructed and then put back together,” he shares, referring to the fillings made with sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, eggplant and foie gras.
“For this dish, I use Nespresso Reviving Origins Congo Organic Coffee, which has got all the nuttiness, the bitterness, earthiness flavours I want in this dish,” explains Opocensky. “I reduce the coffee inside to bring out the flavour of the eggplant and foie gras I've got inside to give it a perfect balance.”
To finish, he grinds a bit of the coffee powder with chocolate to enhance the overall flavour and as an ode to the soil where the eggplant comes from.