The supper-club that became a global movement
“We hope that through the #CookForSYRIA campaign we will not only be able to raise much needed money for Unicef UK’s Children of Syria Fund, we will also increase awareness of the plight of children in the war-torn country. Through cooking, sharing recipes and the power of social media, we invite everyone to help make a difference and positive contribution towards this important initiative.”Clerkenwell Boy, London
Get involved with the campaign and throw your own Syrian inspired supper club at home.
Argentian Agustin Balbi began his culinary journey at age 15. After working for highly acclaimed restaurants in Buenos Aires and training at The BUE Trainers, he gained experience around the world before coming to Asia. His experience working and training in numerous Michelin-starred restaurants with prominent chefs in the United States and Japan paid off in 2015 when he was selected as the only foreigner to represent Japan at the San Pellegrino Young Chef competition. A year later in 2016, Hong Kong Tatler Dining presented him with the award for Best New Chef. Following the success of The Ocean, Le Comptoir’s Repulse Bay seafood restaurant, Chef Balbi is now the Executive Chef at the newly opened HAKU.
French Nicolas Boutin honed his skills in Michelin-starred restaurants in France including Maison Lameloise, La Maison Troisgros, Les Jardins de l’Opera and Jean Bardet. In 2002 he joined two Michelin-starred chef Michel Portos at Hauterive Saint-James and was appointed Executive Sous Chef. Chef Boutin went on to spend a year at Raffles Resort Canouan Island in the Caribbean before moving to Hong Kong where he joined the Landmark Mandarin Oriental launch team as Executive Chef, which featured the two Michelin-starred restaurant, Amber. In 2008 he helped to open the Mandarin Oriental, Boston before becoming Executive Chef at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island and the Four Seasons Bora Bora. In 2013, Nicolas returned to Hong Kong to open ÉPURE and earned a Michelin Star in 2017.
Hong Kong-born and Montreal-raised Peggy Chan earned a degree in the culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa before founding Grassroots Pantry in 2012 with the mission of providing nutritious plant-based food with a dose of environmental awareness. She is the Founder, Executive Chef, and Managing Director of her restaurant, café and workshop space where she shares her passion for organic, plant-based food with the community. As a passionate speaker and activist, Peggy is recognised as a social entrepreneur who strives towards a cleaner food system and promotes equal opportunity in the workforce. Since the inception of her company, Chef Chan has evolved her brand to include a catering business, called The Alternative Caterer, and expanded her restaurant space to its current location at 108 Hollywood Road. She also created The Collective’s Table, a series of collaborative dinners that promote innovative plant-based cuisine with a portion of proceeds going to charity.
Singaporean Nicholas Chew began his culinary career at the age of 25 in Japanese restaurants before working in One Hat restaurant in Shoya and catering to famous professional racers at the Formula 1/Motor GP/Flemington Race in Australia. Upon moving to Hong Kong, he worked at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and with Two Michelin Star Chef Shane Osborn at St Betty before joining to open and head progressive French restaurant, Serge et le Phoque. Chew credits his One Michelin Star achievement and continued success to his mentor and culinary director, Two Michelin Star Chef Christophe Pele of La Bigarrade and Le Clarence.
British Nate Green began his career at two-Michelin starred Gidleigh Park in the UK. Following this he worked at Tom Aikens, The Square and Michelin starred Arbutus, where he was Senior Sous Chef. In 2004 Chef Green was voted ‘Young Chef of the Year’ by the Restaurant Association, the most prestigious competition for young chefs in the UK. In 2014 he started an unforgettable journey as the Executive Chef of 22 Ships and Ham & Sherry, two of Hong Kong’s top tapas bars. In 2016 Nate opened RHODA in partnership with award-winning restaurateur Yenn Wong of JIA Group. RHODA offers simple, delicious dishes and aims to bring back the fading custom of conversation over good meals.
Hong Kong-born and U.S.-raised David Lai began cooking part-time while studying Art History at U.C. Berkeley. He trained with Julian Serrano at Masa's and Sylvain Portay at the Ritz Carlton Dining Room in San Francisco and also stages at Alain Ducasse's Louis XV in Monaco. In 2003 he returned to HK to assist with the opening of Ducasse's Spoon at the Intercontinental. Chef Lai opened his first restaurant, On Lot 10 (now closed) in 2009 and is the chef-owner of Neighborhood and culinary director at Fish School.
Swedish Jim Lofdahl started his chef journey at culinary school in 1999 before securing his first job in the kitchen at a members golf club in Saltsjöbaden, Stockholm in 2002. For the five years that followed, Jim gained experience at a number of kitchens all over Stockholm before meeting Bjorn Frantzen in 2008. This encounter would have a significant impact on him as a chef as Bjorn went on to become one of Jim’s most significant mentors. Working as one of a handful of chefs at Frantzèn/Lindeberg, Jim honed his skills within the fine dining realm and was rewarded when the restaurant earned its Michelin Stars, the first in 2009 and a second in 2010. Jim was then appointed Head Chef of Frantzèn/Lindeberg in 2011. In 2016, he took the restaurant on the road to do a three-month pop up at the Palazzo Versace, Dubai. With a successful international reception achieved, it was decided to set up the Frantzen name in Hong Kong in a permanent location, opening Frantzen’s Kitchen in November 2016 with Jim at the helm. As the first year of operation comes to a close with a fantastic appreciation by Hong Kong diners, Jim looks forward to the future and the second year of Frantzen’s Kitchen.
Born and raised in the Valais region of the Rhône Valley, South of Switzerland, Grégoire Michaud grew up immersed in food; embarking in a pastry apprenticeship at age 15. He now boasts 25 years of baking experience over the world including in the United States, Ireland, and The Maldives. He spent eight years as the Executive Pastry Chef of The Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong where he designed and oversaw the pastry and bread production for the hotel, including developing breads for Caprice and desserts for Lung King Heen. Chef Michaud is also the author of five acclaimed cookbooks, a dedicated blogger as well as a regular judge for international cooking competitions. He was voted “Tatler Best Pastry Chef 2013 for Hong Kong & Macau”. He is now the co-founder of Bread Elements and Pastry Elements providing handcrafted sourdough artisan breads, croissants and exquisite pastries for Hong Kong’s finest names in the F&B industry.
German Uwe Opocensky’s career began as a young apprentice at the Gasthof zum Hemberg in Germany, followed by a training program under Anton Mosimann at his private dining club in London. After two years he was named Head Chef and was cooking for The Queen, President Clinton and other noted Heads of State. A two-year tenure as Executive Chef of Anassa Hotel in Cyprus followed before he made his big move to Hong Kong to be the Executive Chef of the Aberdeen Marina Club. He went on to spend a 6-month period at El Bulli, voted the best restaurant in the world and returned to Asia as the Executive Chef at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur where he won the hotel’s dining establishments many accolades. When offered the opportunity to work at his dream destination, The Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, he accepted. Currently, Chef Opocensky enjoys creative freedom as Group Executive Chef of Beef & Liberty and Restaurant UWE.
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"Food has the power to unite people, families, communities and this beautiful cookbook exists to make a difference, Full of colour and life, it's packed with authentic recipes donated by Syrian families, and fresh twists from contributing chefs and cooks. It's a keeper."