Bangkok Chef Wins Champions Of Change Award

50 Best have been listing the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants since 2002. This year they have launched the Champions of Change award to highlight unsung heroes of the hospitality sector, who were able to create positive change out of the extraordinary events of the last 18 months.

Main picture food being distributed by chef Deepanker Khosla in Bangkok credit Haoma

The Champions of Change recognises and celebrates individuals who have used this period as a springboard to drive meaningful action in their respective communities.

One of the inaugural Champions of Change winners is Deepanker Khosla, an Indian chef based in Bangkok turned his restaurant Haoma – which is staffed largely by migrants – into a soup kitchen for out-of-work Bangkok residents.

He raised funds to make meals with his campaign, No One Hungry, where his staff prepped free meals for the homeless, and were able to receive food for themselves and their families as well. Khosla employs people from Myanmar and Nepal who often lack citizenship and he was able to retain all of his staff successfully despite the impact of the pandemic.

Haoma also received a three-star certification by sustainability organisation Food Made Good and is on its way to become zero waste by 2022. Khosla will use the Champions of Change donation to create and staff a full-fledged kitchen for the No One Hungry project, providing meals to thousands of people in need.

Haoma is Thailand’s first urban farm and zero-waste restaurant in the heart of Bangkok. Guided by their philosophy “Grow to Give Back,” everything they do is aimed at regenerating the ecosystem, food and community.

Food being distributed by chef Deepanker Khosla in Bangkok credit Haoma
Food being distributed by chef Deepanker Khosla in Bangkok credit Haoma

Local, ethical and sustainable ingredients are at the foundation of the restaurant. They only use ingredients where they know where they come from. Most of them are grown on their organic farm in Chiang Mai. Some of them are grown locally at our restaurant. 

There were two other winners.

Kurt Evans – co-founder of Down North Pizza, a ‘mission-led for-profit restaurant’ in Philadelphia, US, which exclusively employs formerly incarcerated individuals while providing culinary career opportunities with a fair wage.

In addition to slinging Detroit-style pizzas, Down North aims to mitigate recidivism and end mass incarceration in the long-term. Evans is the chef and activist behind the successful ‘End Mass Incarceration’ dinner series, where families impacted by mass incarceration come together with lawmakers and diners to engage in conversation about prison reform over a multi-course meal.

Champions of Change winners [from left to right]: Kurt Evans, Viviana Varese, Deepanker Khosla

Viviana Varese, who received a Michelin star for her Milan-based restaurant Viva, becoming one of very few women in Italy to do so, has also been selected as a Champion of Change.

An LGBTQ+ and inclusivity campaigner, following her own personal experiences of discrimination, Varese is also part of the non-profit association Parabere Forum, aiming to empower women in hospitality.

As a result of the pandemic, Viviana reopened Viva in spring 2021, as well as new restaurant W Villadorata in Sicily, with a strong focus on staff inclusivity regardless of gender, race, age or sexuality. In addition to employing and training farmers over the age of 60 who have lost their jobs, she collaborates with suppliers who employ people with disabilities to make her plates and pottery.

“We are thrilled to recognise Kurt, Viviana and Deepanker with the first Champions of Change awards. Their passion and fortitude in creating positive change in the hospitality sector is humbling and we can’t wait to see how they will use these donations to further their outstanding projects. We are honoured to salute the work they are doing and the example they are providing to the food world and beyond.”

William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants,

The World’s 50 Best

Champions of Change, part of the forthcoming The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 programme, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, forms a key pillar in the organisation’s evolving ’50 Best for Recovery’ initiative.

This year brings opportunities for positive change as the sector rebuilds and remodels itself with a greater focus on inclusivity and long-term sustainability, which is reflected in the winners’ powerful work. A substantial donation will be made to each of the winners’ causes from the 50 Best for Recovery Fund, allowing the recipients to continue building their initiatives and supporting long-term progress in the restaurant and food sphere.

In 2020, 50 Best pivoted from publishing its annual ranking and hosting live events to focus on fund-raising and supporting the hospitality sector through its 50 Best for Recovery programme, which included raising $1.29m with the support of its partners, including S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna.

50 Best for Recovery distributed grants to more than 200 restaurants and bars and donated to a series of non-profits organisations in the food and drink sector.

Champions of Change is one of several special awards which will be announced between now and September, as part of the lead up to the event programme for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021. These individuals have utilised recent challenges as a catalyst for positive action and long-term progress, whether they are helping others, improving the gastronomic sector or creating a healthier planet. 

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Published by flyingdogtravel

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