Stepping up Sustainability
A small but growing number of restauranteurs and hoteliers in Malaysia are stepping up to incorporate more sustainable initiatives into their businesses
Banning shark’s fin from menus, buying and serving sustainable seafood, sourcing for local produce and ingredients, and last but not least, composting—some hotels and restaurants in Malaysia are going out of their way to offer more sustainable and responsible dining in Malaysia. It’s not just hip indie outfits that are going down the sustainability route. Take shark’s fin, long the bane of animal rights activists and a traditional delicacy in this part of the world. The Peninsular Group was probably the first major hospitality group in the world to announce their decision to stop selling shark’s fin in all its restaurants and properties in late 2011. Other market leaders soon followed, including Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-la Hotels and Resorts, and Hilton Worldwide.
In 2012, the Mandarin Oriental Group similarly removed the dish from all restaurant and banqueting menus as proof of the hotel group’s commitment towards a sustainable future and to preserve ocean biodiversity. Likewise, Hilton Worldwide’s ban on shark’s fin previews the company’s on-going efforts to update its Sustainable Sourcing Policy, including opting for sustainable seafood. The policy decrees that “while sustainable seafood can be wildcaught or farm-raised, the seafood must be harvested with care to maintain stable catch levels in the long-term without harming the environment and other sea life.”
Under its Sustainable Seafood Policy, Shangri-la Hotels and Resorts has ceased serving shark’s fin. Shangri-la also undertakes the development of marine sanctuaries, to ensure reef protection and stability of underwater and marine life as part of its ‘Care for Nature’ initiative, which was officially established in 2007 at Shangri-la's Mactan Resort and Spa,
Cebu. The Shangri-la Marine Sanctuary y spans six hectares from the resort's beachfront; an area teeming with over 160 species of fish, clams and coral. Besides regular coastal and dive cleanups by the resort management and staff, coral recovery programmes are carried out through the formation of artificial reefs to encourage coral and fish proliferation. Long term protection of the fragile reef environment, marine ne conservation and coral planting efforts are also undertaken at Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort Spa, Kota Kinabalu, Shangri-la's Fijian Resortrt and Spa, Yanuca, Fiji and Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives.
Over at The Andaman Langkawi, fresh local catches are delivered to the resort daily from local fishing boats to minimise food miles. A mutual agreement with local fishermen further encourages them to fish responsibly, avoiding the hotel’s bay where on-going coral and marine conservation efforts are taking place. The Andaman chefs are also cautious about their fish choices, buying only fully grown fishes so that they do not contribute to the problem of over-fishing, and to drive home the importance of sustainable fishing.
Shangri-la Hotels and Resorts has ceased serving shark’s fin. Shangri-la also undertakes the development of marine sanctuaries, to ensure reef protection and stability of underwater and marine life
Another sustainable practice undertaken by The Andaman Langkawi is composting. The resort’s resident botanist ensures excess fruit and vegetables go to the organic compost onsite. The rich compost is then used to fertilise The Andaman’s organic herb garden. Planted with 12 types of herbs such as curry leaves, pandan, aloe vera, lime and ginger among others, the ensuing bounty is used for cooking and in spa treatments.
Beyond saying no to shark’s fin and other endangered fishes, perhaps the easiest way to dining sustainably is to eat and cook locally. Malaysia’s rich and diverse bounty is now taking centrestage at Dewakan, a restaurant that is part of KDU University College’s educational entrepreneurial effort.
Helmed by chef lecturer Darren Teoh, Dewakan—a contraction of two Malay words “dewa” (god) and “makan” (to eat or in this context, food)—the culinary team showcases ingredients native to Malaysia and produce grown here. According to the chef, “We want to connect the ingredients from our seas, farms, mountains and jungles to a canvas that is our plate in the most interesting way we know how.”
Locavores are making a beeline for Dewakan as they believe Malaysian produce should not be limited to ethnic cuisines. “We’re aiming for a more intelligent and sustainable approach to use local ingredients.” Instead of imported stuff, the inventive menu highlights
Beyond saying no to shark’s fin and other endangered fishes, perhaps the easiest way to dining
sustainably is to eat and cook locally