With all the talk of “buying local,” and “sustainability,” and “food and the environment,” I must say I was a little surprised by the depth of silence from the many chefs from Europe and North America who own restaurants in Hong Kong when the pro-democracy forces took to the streets over the weekend.
Chefs from the West in Hong Kong include: Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, Pierre Gagnaire, Mario Batali, Paco Roncero, Michael White, and Jamie Oliver.
Look, I get it, it’s hard enough–brutal, some might say–to make the business of a restaurant work without having to worry about economic and social issues. But if chefs are speaking up about GMOs, “farm to table” produce, an array of health issues, school lunches, and everything (except increasing the minimum wage), it stands to reason that they would be concerned about what is happening in Hong Kong. At the very least, as The Wall Street Journal reports today, it’s not good for business when people take to the streets.
It’s going to be even worse for business when the crackdown starts. Tomorrow, October 1, is the annual celebration of the communist revolution in China. Let’s see what happens to mark the day. (Anyone remember The Great Famine?)
Still, there’s hope: If Hong Kong implodes, and the work environment becomes bad for the hospitality industry, chefs can always head to Pyongyang, North Korea. Now there’s a country that’s all about sustainability.