Simply dishing up vegetables is not an option for the internationally seasoned professional – after all, this is the Hilton! In his new restaurant, Verde Kitchen, Hassan brings well-known Impossible Foods™ products to the table that provide everything meat does…except meat itself, of course. How has this been received? We asked Kazi Hassan.
Kazi Hassan | Image: Hilton SingaporePlant-based meat substitutes are quite expensive. How do you manage to get your money’s worth?
We’re taking a long-term view on this. Plant-based “meat” conserves resources, which is an important effect in the long run! We also believe that our guests’ increased awareness about sustainable food will boost both demand and supply. That way, the prices will go down by themselves.
But just how sustainable is production, really? Soy production, for example, tends to be viewed very critically and your guests are likely to ask questions about this.
So far the feedback from the guests has been positive – and rightly so! According to figures from Impossible Foods™, which are pioneers in this field, producing plant-based meat substitutes requires up to 96% less land and up to 87% less water; it also results in up to 89% less greenhouse gas emissions than beef production.
Is is also healthier than beef? Meat replacement products are often said to contain a lot of fat and salt.
In this regard, our guests also hold such products in high esteem. However, some have asked very specific questions about nutritional values. Thanks to our cooperation with Impossible Foods™, we have discovered that plant-based meat substitutes provide just as much protein as beef. They are also an excellent source of iron, with 0% cholesterol and 35% less fat than ground beef.
How high is the percentage of orders for new meat replacement products?
The new plant-based creations are enjoyed by regulars and new guests alike. Our commitment to more sustainability in the kitchen, which we strive for in Verde Kitchen, has also been well received. However, it is still too early to say anything concrete about how popular these new meals will be; we only introduced them in October. What we can say is this: Guests who value a healthy and sustainable diet are particularly interested in these products. We have also noted increasing demand from guests who are much more mindful and like to try out new products that are good for the environment.
Were there any internal hurdles before these rather unusual products were introduced?
So far it has been really uncomplicated and hassle-free! After all, sustainability is a key goal at Hilton. Hilton Singapore is therefore fully committed to helping achieve our 2030 sustainability goals. However, when we introduced plant-based dishes last year, it was not possible to get meat substitutes from regional sources and therefore we had to be creative about sourcing. But as more and more consumers want plant-based meat alternatives, they are becoming increasingly available locally.
Will other Hilton hotels also offer these plant-based dishes? And is there any discussion going on within the Hilton Group about food trends and the experience you’ve had with these dishes?
In addition to Hilton Singapore, Conrad Centennial Singapore has also introduced plant-based meat alternatives. In the future, we want to use these products whenever they are available in this region. After all, veganism is the number one F&B trend here! At our own events we introduce Impossible Meat as much as possible, for example, at our internal leadership meeting with 600 participants last year or at the South East Asia General Manager and Leadership Conference in Singapore this spring. We also communicate our experience with new products like these at our annual internal Hilton F&B Masters talent competition. As a result, our F&B teams are always up to date and therefore can become creative themselves.
In June, Hilton signed on to the Cool Food Pledge, making it the world’s first hotel group to commit to serving more climate-friendly foods to help reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions. Working with the World Resources Institute, Hilton will look at changing its food offerings strategy. One such initiative is serving the reduced meat Blended Burger, which will roll out to 80 hotels in United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, and Netherlands.
Hilton will continually look at ways to increase plant-based and vegetarian menu items, train our Team Members on the impact of food on sustainability, and raise awareness among guests.