Chef, entrepreneur and pioneer of plant-based fine dining in Hong Kong, Tina Barrat’s passion for nutritious, sustainable food led to her two ventures: the plant-based restaurant Ma…and The Seeds of Life and vegan deli brand, Le Fromage by Ma.
Before her culinary career, Barrat was a fashion and jewellery designer, working with top local brands including Lane Crawford and On Pedder. But it was a raw food cooking course she took over a decade ago that inspired her to experiment with plant-based dining.
In our latest edition of ‘8Shades Of’, we speak to Barrat about her sustainability journey, favourite plant-based dish and why she loves adding cold-pressed oils to everything.
1. In one sentence, tell us what you do!
I’m a vegan and raw food chef at Ma…and the Seeds of Life, a vegan fine dining restaurant. I’ve also launched my own vegan cheese brand (spelled ‘cheeze’ to differentiate it from normal cheeses), Le FroMAge by Ma.
2. Why are you an 8Shader?
I first encountered the concept of ‘sustainability’ when running my first vegetarian restaurant in Wanchai called Maya Cafe . I was making everything from scratch to make sure it was unprocessed, because most of the packaged ingredients for restaurants contained questionable additives and enhancers. I bought in bulk from small farms and ordered tofu from a small, local factory.
3. Your best eco habit?
I used to be a fashion designer, so I don’t buy anything new until the old items are ruined and can’t be repaired. I sometimes also buy secondhand if I want to buy a branded item.
4. Guilty not-so-green habit?
I love sparkling water, but unfortunately, most sparkling water is bottled in plastic.
5. Fave eco product?
My favourite eco-product has to be natural soap bars. I love using them for my body and when I wash dishes. Apart from soap bars, I adore edible cold-pressed oils like sesame, almond or apricot kernel oil. They work wonders on your skin – I usually just add a few drops to my moisturiser. I also make my own toothpaste!
6. Fave veggie dish in HK?
The vegan dumplings at LockCha Tea House in Admiralty.
7. What is your favourite creation at your restaurant, Ma… and The Seeds of Life?
I never get tired of the ‘Chiaviar’. Created to offer a vegan alternative to caviar, I added tamari and flaxseed oil to bring out a slightly fishy taste. The oil also creates aa smooth texture meant to mimic Caviar.
8. What shade of green are you?
Grass green is my favourite colour. I try to do my part in sustainability but I’m definitely not an expert in all areas. I live in Cheung Chau and try my best to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. For example, I separate and give all of my veggies scraps to farms in Cheung Chau for composting.
Learn more about Ma…and The Seeds of Life (temporary closed due to Covid-19)
NEXT: See all of our ‘8Shades Of‘ interviews
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