News and opinion

 

Two different executive chefs. One common goal.

July 12, 2020

We talked to two brilliant chefs about their views on food, seafood sustainability and their MSC certified seafood recipes. 

Chef Lucas Glanville, Director of Culinary Operations Grand Hyatt Singapore

One can sense the passion about sustainability in Chef Lucas Glanville’s every word. Chef Lucas Glanville, Grand Hyatt SingaporeRaised in an environmentally conscious family, he grew up enjoying a sustainable lifestyle even before the word ‘sustainable’ got fashionable!

In later years, as a leader in his line, Chef Lucas felt compelled to create change, use his influence in a positive way and build awareness around the challenges in the seafood industry. Living in a very instantaneous culture, the focus of the hospitality industry as a whole, he feels, has gone astray – a focus that’s not engaged with our climates, seasons and ingredients. The sudden shortage of ingredients when COVID-19 first emerged should be a wake-up call for everyone to operate at a higher level of food ethics and support champions of food sustainability – from rooftop gardens to sustainable fishing.

For other hotels considering the sustainable seafood path, his advice is, “It’s not too late to start. Break your decisions into small achievable choices; consider starting with larger seafood items you purchase where you have an economy of scale. Speak to your suppliers or fisherman and understand their products, and craft your menus around their story as well as the availability of their products.”

And for smaller establishments that have financial constraints, firstly, Chef Lucas says, “have realistic expectations.” Quality-driven ingredients will cost more, but a good producer, will reward you with ingredients that you can trust repeatedly and may even impart you with a greater understanding of food. Second, use the fundamentals of hospitality. Create smaller menus, use methods and techniques that add value to the dining experience, engage your diners and share what you are doing and why. He adds that the majority of guests are genuinely interested in what a restaurant is trying to achieve.

Chef Lucas also shared that his biggest challenge on the road to seafood sustainability was ‘going against the flow’ to create change. In the early years, ascertaining that an ingredient was truly sustainable was difficult, and compared to today, cost was significantly higher, making it challenging to work out an economic balance. But it became easier when people understood and were able to see the benefits of quality-driven, sustainable ingredients. Focus on ‘less is more’ and over time customers will taste the difference and come back. Also, create a dining experience around the story of the seafood. All this he says are his tools for success in this endeavour.

“Guests will remember a good experience that they have enjoyed, more than the price they paid for it.” he says confidently. The Grand Hyatt Singapore operates their F&B operations based on their mantra of ‘Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.’ And everyone works to ensure that the dining experience extends beyond just eating.

When asked about MSC’s role in supporting him in achieving his seafood sustainability goals at The Grand Hyatt, Chef Lucas complimented MSC’s work as ‘outstanding’. He reiterated that MSC is industry recognised as the leader in obtaining scientific evidence and traceability for sustainable seafood. To have a body that independently certifies a seafood or fishery as sustainable, is something that he truly appreciates and relies on. As a result, he added Hyatt uses the MSC and ASC as a benchmark for all Hyatt hotels globally with regards to sustainable seafood. It also helps that as the Group continues to open more hotels around the world and include more sustainable seafood on their menus, MSC is also accelerating their certification for more fisheries worldwide and assuring more sustainable seafood reach markets.

So, are Singapore diners and consumers ready to embrace sustainable seafood as a way of life? “YES!” he affirms. He feels Singapore is a very savvy, articulate market and the Hyatt has seen amazing growth in business due to their sustainable philosophy, thanks to the support of their diners.

And his parting words of wisdom to all our readers… “If you would like to go one step further, become Chain of Custody certified - the highest, independently audited accreditation of procuring MSC or ASC certified seafood. We are all accountable for the future, we all have a chance now to protect the oceans for future generations. Your daily decisions will affect this.”

Cook like Chef Lucas Glanville - check his delicious recipe for seared MSC certified Spencer Gulf King Prawns.

Chef Lucas Glanville is a Director of Culinary Operations South East Asia for Grand Hyatt Singapore. An Australian national with over 35 years of culinary experience, Chef Lucas Glanville has been instrumental in leading Grand Hyatt Singapore’s sustainable journey since 2002, pioneering key initiatives in Water, Food Sourcing and Food Waste Management. Lucas’ experience has seen him worked in world-class kitchens around the world, including the then 3 Star Michelin winner La Gavroche in London and the Browns Restaurant in Melbourne which was recognised as the Best Restaurant in Australia.

 

Chef Shannon Batten, Executive Chef Hilton Singapore

Hilton Singapore Executive Chef Shannon BattenThese are Chef Shannon Batten’s top three suggestions to convert today’s diners to advocates for sustainable seafood. It is his belief that one has to educate oneself, lead by example and spread knowledge of sustainable seafood to as many people as you can. The more people understand this journey, the easier it will be to succeed. That’s why as a role model to his team, he always prioritises gaining knowledge on sustainable seafood, so they in turn can share it with diners, who may not even understand how they are supporting sustainability by dining at The Hilton. He adds, “Proactively share the journey of sustainable seafood, every chance you get with consumers till they understand the process and eventually they will vote with their wallets!”

In tandem with this, Chef Shannon believes innovative menu creations showcasing sustainable seafood are just as crucial. Diners need to experience first-hand that delicious seafood dishes can still be enjoyed without compromising sustainability.

Having lived and worked close to oceans almost all his life, Chef Shannon has witnessed a lot. As a young boy in New Zealand, he remembers seeing larger varieties of seafood that appear to have dwindled as he grew up and advanced in his career. While working in Edinburgh, the battle of fishing territories between the UK and Europe was ongoing, then in Brisbane difficulty sourcing local fish was an unexpected surprise. Moving on to the Maldives he saw how ever-increasing resorts strained local catch populations heavily during peak seasons. All these were ‘eye-openers’ for him.

But it was in Brisbane, where he learnt a lesson he never forgot. Unknowingly, he put an overfished species of fish with a low reproductive rate on his new menu. Immediately, he was chastised via email by a local restauranteur and was told not to use it. The fish was replaced with a sustainable option and Chef learnt the importance of knowledge about sustainable seafood.

On facing change, Chef Shannon shared some of the hurdles he’s faced. Doing what is right, proactively, is very important. You will have to research and think a little harder when planning your menus because sustainable fresh fish varieties differ from country to country. Source locally as much as possible and help reduce the carbon footprint. Also be prepared for restrictions in the variety of fish you can use for now, he says. But as more parties embrace sustainable seafood, the oceans get time to replenish and varieties will increase.

Having just joined the Hilton Singapore in April 2020, he is excited to be at the first hotel in Asia to achieve the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) chain of custody certifications.

Speaking about the Singapore market, he stresses, “Collectively as an industry, I believe we have high potential to raise consumer awareness, and advance responsible operations.” He added that as a metropolis, consumers based here are aware and educated on sustainable seafood. However, more can be done to generate greater awareness across the board. Sustainable fish targets should be everyone’s concern.

The biggest rewards for hotels or restaurants considering this path in Chef’s opinion include bringing about positive change in culture that protects our fishes, oceans and our diets for years to come. Also importantly, opening up new job sectors for companies and farms in the fisheries industry that significantly impact local economies.

When asked about MSC’s contribution to this journey, Chef Shannon enthused that MSC provides so much information and research on sustainable seafood, which is essential to everyone to be able to understand and communicate effectively on this crucial topic. MSC, in his opinion, is doing stellar work and he has witnessed it evolve to become more prominent, especially in the hospitality industry.

Final words of advice for fellow chefs in Singapore regarding the road to seafood sustainability and how to succeed… “Educate yourselves! Look at seafood sustainability as a long-term plan. It will be challenging but in the end, you will know that the decision was worth it. And finally, embrace the change. This will be the future of the fisheries industry.”

Cook like Chef Shannon Batten - check his delicious recipe for MSC certified New Zealand Rockling Fish. 

Chef Shannon Batten was appointed as Executive Chef of Hilton Singapore in April 2020 to bring on his wealth of experiences to the table and set as a role model for the culinary brigade to adopt new challenges for the iconic hotel and continue the legacy of responsible sourcing and sustainability. Shannon brings over 21 years of international culinary experiences across various countries, award-winning establishments and hotels at Auckland New Zealand, Edinburgh Scotland, Brisbane Australia, Maldives and now Singapore.

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