In the heart of bustling Bangkok sits an urban farm and zero-waste restaurant that is defining the future of sustainable dining.
With a philosophy to ‘grow to give back’, chef Deepanker Khosla’s Haoma restaurant is on a mission to be a ‘living example’ of what the sustainable future of eating out can look like. Serving up neo-Indian cuisine, everything Deepanker, affectionately known as DK, and his team do is driven by a circular economy spirit to close the loop, in an establishment where ‘innovative gastronomy and sustainable practices find a harmonious balance’.
If 20 years from now there is no produce left in the ocean, what the hell am I gonna cook on my Seafood Wednesdays?
DK, my guest today on Inside Ideas, says quality, ethical ingredients are everything at his restaurant, which has a no antibiotics policy and is staunchly anti-pesticide.
“As a chef, I’m cooking clean and healthy food. How can I cook clean and healthy food with unclean and unhealthy vegetables. I need to know where my produce is coming from and it has to be ethical.”
Hamoa is DK’s dream-come-true project, where nothing has been left to chance in the pursuit of sustainable perfection.
“We are now living in a world where agriculture is done for yield and yield only, with these big boys coming in and bringing commercialisation and industrialisation. Seedbanks have been taken away from the farmer, fertiliser use has been taken away from the farmer and the land has been cut into small parcels so that the farmer controls nothing,” DK said. “That is why I have gone back and started controlling that and, with the help of food made good, which is a large sustainability audit company, we have been able to see that the tunnel we were walking in was pretty dark and they gave us a torch in our hands. They gave us an entire diagram for how we achieve what we want to do and custom-made that for us.”
DK says the end result was exactly what he was looking for but admits the restaurant business is not for the faint hearted.
“You wanna go ahead and open a restaurant, please go ahead and do that but make sure that you know what is going to happen to your grey water; what is going to happen to your waste… all these things need to be taken care of.”
The bigger picture drives every aspect of DK’s work, and he insists it will be impossible to nourish people if nature is neglected.
“Our oceans are depleting, our lands are depleting, our air is depleting. If we don’t take that call – especially in countries like Thailand, where let’s say 25-30% of the GDP is based on tourism, which is directly proportionate to the hospitality and food and beverage industry, we will be left behind and mother nature will shower its wrath upon us and we will be left with nothing,” he said. “So – it’s a selfish commitment for me to say – I’m going to work towards nature, and nature is going to provide for me. As a chef – if in 20 years from now there is no produce left in the ocean, what the hell am I gonna cook on my Seafood Wednesdays?”
DK also knows that transparency is critical when it comes to giving people confidence in their food, and to build that at Haoma, he is turning to blockchain.
“We are putting it on blockchain so that it’s completely, truly exposed. You can, at any time see the soil composition; the water going in; the fertiliser being used; the vitamins, nutrients, minerals that are being given to the chickens; what they are really being fed on; what the cows are really eating. At any stage of time I am happy to expose this because when you are true to yourself and true to Mother Earth, there is nothing to hide.”
DK’s enthusiasm is infectious and I am delighted to welcome him on the show to learn more about his vision for the future of restaurants.