The instantly popular HOME: Eat To Live, which opened recently in the heart of Central, offers something unique for the many busy professionals and families that dine there each day. Positioned as a convenient, affordable dining option, with a variety of bowls, wraps and burgers, it may sound at first like a typical fast-food joint; but what’s not typical is the attitude of its management, who believe that food can change the world, and are committed to making their version of fast food different.
Here, you will find fresh, made-to-order dishes with local, organic and seasonal ingredients; vegan, gluten-free, raw and vegetarian options for every palate and dietary need; a casual, welcoming vibe that includes loads of electricity points and thoughtfully-planned dining areas; and a staff that is committed to making a positive difference to the health of its customers and of the planet.
At the helm of this exciting venture is professional chef and restaurateur Christian G. Mongendre, previously of the pioneering MANA! Fast Slow Food, Mana! Raw & Mana! Cafe. Together with his life partner Celina Jade and a local investor with vision, Elizabeth Chu (ZS Hospitality), he is helping to expand the boundaries of the Hong Kong dining scene. These are his words.
My job is... feeding people. My title is Founder and CEO of HOME: Eat To Live, a 100 per cent vegetarian restaurant offering vegan, organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, and raw dining options in a friendly, fast-food format.
I do this because... it’s been inside me for a long time; I want people to have access to delicious, healthy food in a convenient, affordable way. We aren’t doing ‘haute cuisine’; instead we’re offering healthy food with quality ingredients to the masses.
My business is about... positivity; we’re food-focused, with sustainability as part of our DNA. HOME fills a niche in Hong Kong, serving healthy, high quality food at a great price.
My success is due to... our passion as a team, as well as the demand of our consumers for better quality ingredients. Never underestimate your customers! They care, more and more, about what they eat, where their food comes from, what it means for their body, and whether or not a business is responsible or sustainable. We also take pride in our professionalism, transparency and the standards to which we hold ourselves, in terms of what we serve. Serving vegetables isn’t an excuse to offer plain or tasteless food! We are chef-focused here, and the food has to be delicious in comparison to any other cuisine out there.
When I’m not working... I try to get some sleep! But I also enjoy hiking, meditation, getting outside and being active.
When I was young... I was a professional rower, and as one the smaller guys on the boat I tried everything I could to improve my performance; so I turned to food, and worked with a nutritionist. Then my mother became ill, and the role of food in healing became even more important to me.
What inspires me most in life is... doing something that has meaning and contributes to a greater good.
I love it when... I see regular, non-vegetarian customers chowing down on a vegan burger or noodle bowl, and ordering from our “Little Homies” kid’s menu for their children, because I know they’re discovering that eating plant-based can be delicious and easy, and just one person not choosing meat or fish is positively impacting the environment in a tremendous way.
The scariest thing I’ve ever done was... I can’t recall anything right now!
The best advice I’ve ever been given was... “Be here now.” - Ramdas
One lesson I’ve learned is... it’s all about systems. Why is McDonald’s so successful? They have systems in place; they’re efficient about how they prepare and serve food, and manage the customer experience. We can apply the same principles to serving good, organic, plant-based food. We have to, in order to be truly sustainable as a business, both economically and environmentally.
I love to indulge in... the Polar Bear Burger at HOME Eat To Live. It’s such a satisfying burger experience!
Someone I look up to is... my soon-to-be wife, because she can put up with me.
If I wasn’t a restaurateur, I would be... an explorer.
One thing people would be surprised to know about me is... I’m quite shy.
Next up for me is... expanding. This is our flagship restaurant; eventually we hope to roll out across the region. Our whole concept is designed to have mainstream appeal, so we can help more people get used to eating plant-based food, which is better for them and for the planet.
HOME: Eat to Live is located at shop G01 and 101, Nexxus Building, 77 Des Voeux Road Central