Restaurant & Bar Awards 2021 Page 23 LUX 2021 Restaurant & Bar Awards For Vicky Liao, Founder of the Handmade Kitchen, the time has come for Taiwan to reconsider its relationship with healthy, additive-free food. She has successfully created a health food empire that consists of a restaurant, retailer, and even its own cookbook. We take a closer look at the multi-award-winning Handmade Kitchen as it continues to lead a revolution in the Taiwanese food industry. Handmade ., Ltd. Best Additive-Free Dining Experience - Taiwan Mar21504 Created in 2011 as the first additive-free food brand in Taiwan, the Handmade Kitchen has enjoyed a remarkable decade of growth to become a culinary institution specialising in natural, additive-free cuisine that has earned multiple awards, including the International Anti-Additive Tasty Award of 2016. Following the successful launch of the brand, which began with flagship products of handmade pesto and jam that were sold through Facebook, Owner Vicky Liao opened the Handmade Kitchen Restaurant in 2014, dedicated to selling the brand’s products and promoting additive-free lifestyles in Taiwan. A pioneer of the Taiwanese natural food market, Vicky’s mission was to change nationwide perceptions about natural and healthy foods being less delicious than the products that contained additives and chemicals. She also sought to educate consumers about how these products are designed to be more addictive, with the result often being that they were significantly less healthy. As such, in addition to the retailer, restaurant, and publication of a specialist additive-free cookbook, the Handmade Kitchen has also taken to broadcasting, promoting its message through Taiwan’s National Education Radio Station. In the restaurant itself, the mission is simple and clear: produce healthy food, free from chemicals and unwanted extras, that is ultimately delicious and adored by customers. As such, Vicky and her team of chefs carry out extensive research on culinary concepts from around the world, studying popular dishes of France, Thailand, China, America, and beyond, to inspire dishes that are sure to delight diners. The team also looks at classic dishes and considers how they can be healthier or made without additives, so that consumers can enjoy their favourite foods without compromising on their health. From there, the team works hard to ensure that every dish has no or minimal additives, going above and beyond to source all raw ingredients from trusted, quality-approved suppliers or using the company’s own array of herbs grown in its own gardens. Using only the freshest ingredients, the Handmade Kitchen team then makes its own sauces, jams, bread, cheeses, desserts, pickles and more, all, as one might expect, by hand. As delicious food is so integral to the success of the Handmade Kitchen, Vicky is meticulous in her recruitment of new team members, seeking only those who share the same passion and attention to detail that is so crucial to achieving the signature tastiness of the restaurant’s much-loved dishes. The front of house team is similarly recruited based on their clear passion for food and healthy cooking and must be eager to learn as much as they can so that they can be a valuable source of knowledge for customers looking to discover more about the world of additive-free cuisine. Vicky takes pride in the culture of exceptional customer service that has been built at the Handmade Kitchen, which begins with a warm, welcoming greeting on arrival and a herbal water with ingredients sourced from the kitchen’s gardens, and lasts until the guest departs, with a full belly that has been finished off with a creamy, handmade yoghurt and wonderfully fresh jam. While the impact of Covid-19 has been unavoidable, the Handmade Kitchen is fortunate to exist in Taiwan, a country that has successfully and efficiently managed the pandemic in just three months. While the hospitality industry was closed down during this short window of time and the Handmade Kitchen did have to cut down the number of employees slightly, the recovery has been quick and accelerated by a boom in the health food market that has arisen in Taiwan following the pandemic. Consequently, Vicky and her team are looking ahead with optimism, eager to take the next step in the Handmade Kitchen journey that has already seen significant evolution so far. Following in the success of the restaurant, the Handmade Kitchen plans to open a chain of additive-free restaurants in the next year, in order to continue delivering high quality and healthy foods to more customers in Taiwan. As it does so, the Handmade Kitchen is proudly leading a revolution in the Taiwanese food industry, proving to consumers throughout the country that food that is both healthy and delicious is achievable and accessible to all. Contact: Vicky Liao Company: Handmade ., Ltd. Web: Email: [email protected] Address: No.1 1-9, Zhongzheng Rd., Tamsui Dist., New Taipei City 251007, Taiwan (R.O.C.) Photography by Ean Chen Photography by Ean Chen