Fresh idea for food charity in market

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 May, 2012, 12:00am


A group of young businessmen and designers hopes to restore a disused market in Sheung Wan as a food and art marketplace and establish a food education charity like the one set up by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design is one of 15 non-profit organisations bidding for the contract to revitalise Bridges Street Market.

The Development Bureau's heritage committee meets this week to shortlist the submissions for the city's first post-war market building, which dates from 1953 and now enjoys a grade three heritage rating.

The designers' group faces competitors including the Journalism Education Foundation, which wants to set up a news museum; the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, which, together with other professional organisations, proposes a centre for urban planning; the Federation of Youth Groups, which wants a youth training centre; and animators proposing an animation centre.

Introducing the Ambassadors for Design proposal to the South China Morning Post last week, director Carl Gouw Kar-yiu said their planned two-storey space, comprising a restaurant and marketplace, would be similar to Oliver's food-themed social enterprise. '[The restaurant] would provide training opportunities for underprivileged youth in the kitchen and in the dining area,' said Gouw, 35, who runs a property development company. Youngsters would be referred to the group by its partner organisation Wofoo Foundation.

Alan Lo Yeung-kit, chairman of the Ambassadors, said the market would host diverse activities: 'The idea is to broaden the concept of a modern-day market. It can cover different subject matter, such as art and design, master classes on cooking and food seminars, as well as be a place to sell seasonal produce from the New Territories and street food.'

Lo operates 12 restaurants, including The Pawn, located in a historic building in Wan Chai restored by the Urban Renewal Authority, which has been criticised for leasing the space to the pricey eatery and limiting public enjoyment of the heritage site.

Asked whether his group's proposal would turn the market building into another exclusive place, Lo said the restaurant would not be high-end. A main course for dinner with beverages would cost about HK$200-HK$300, and there would be a stand-and-eat corner for cheaper options.

The now-vacant market stands on the original site of the former American Congregational Mission's preaching hall, where Sun Yat-sen, the founder of modern China, was baptised in 1883.