Food for the mind & body — Lunch with Peggy, Founder of Grassroots Pantry

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Peggy donating a lunch and raising 70 volunteer hours

Any foodie who is health conscious would probably have been to Grassroots Pantry on Hollywood Road. It was a bliss to meet with Peggy Chan, Chef and Founder of Grassroots Pantry, who provided us not only with a taste of her delectable vegetarian dishes but also plenty of food for thought at this “very instagrammable place” of hers.

As a young entrepreneur who turned her passion into a thriving business, while inspiring many to live a healthy lifestyle, is anything but easy. Surrounded by the beautiful decor, we got a glimpse into how this all came about over a casual Sunday lunch:

1. You can do anything with a calling and hard work

Peggy gradually became vegetarian from the age of 16. Started her career in the hospitality industry, she felt the calling to open a restaurant to share her values with others.

“I like being the first in doing everything.”

From a stable and promising job in hospitality, to taking a leap to rent a small space to open the first Grassroots Pantry, Peggy shared with us the hard-work needed to be one of the first to provide vegetarian cuisine with organic and raw ingredients in Hong Kong. From doing her own research with the HKORC to sourcing seasonal produce from different places, Peggy has been hands-on with every step in the operation. This stems from her strong belief in providing food with high nutritional value, and that our bodies are not meant to consume anything that is not a seasonal produce. Apart from formal culinary training, she took up a lot of self-learning through reading and watching food-related documentaries.

Grown through word of mouth and media coverage, Grassroots Pantry gained traction and popularity quickly. In just 3 years, they have moved from a small space in Sai Ying Pun to the buzzing venue on Hollywood Road.

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2. Know thyself, really well

“I’m not someone who would do anything that I am not ready for.” says Peggy. So what made her think that she was ready to take the leap from a corporate job to entrepreneurship, with so many unknown factors and things to learn?

“I looked internally. I knew this is something I wanted and I was ready for it.”

Peggy believes that it is essential to spend time with yourself and know yourself very well. With the societal pressure and expectations on school, career and relationships nowadays, it is even more important to know your values and spirituality before you can truly know what you should pursue externally.

3. The key to deal with anything

Starting the business is a lot of work, keeping it sustainable is even more so. Peggy shared with us how she has been improving on a personal level on the journey of being an entrepreneur — from being an introvert to becoming more confident. What is her motto in facing difficulties?

“Compassion. It is the only way to do everything. It helps you to be more patient and understanding.”

Peggy recalled dealing with a difficult customer. Instead of reacting to the situation, she put herself in the customer’s shoes and tried it see it from her perspective. This understanding has made it easier for her to resolve conflicts with grace and professionalism.

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4. Tackle your weakest link

“Try everything, do everything. If you know you are not good at something, do it more.”

Learning is a constant when you are an entrepreneur. Her advice from the past 4 years? Take negative feedback and try to learn from it, be inventive, innovate, be experiential, be curious, and read. She encourages people to do more and try more because that is the only way to find out what you are good at. Speaking of reading, Peggy also gave us 2 recommendations on books: Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen.

Thank you Peggy again for your time, delicious food and invaluable sharing which has raised 70 volunteer hours to Asia Society, Rotaract Club, Feeding Hong Kong, Hong Kong Rabbit Society and more.

By Wendy Ki, Time Auction Ambassador

For more auctions, visit Time Auction, a platform that connects you with inspiring mentors while encouraging volunteerism.

What the volunteers thought:

Wing Ki Lam, HKUST Student

“I’m very grateful that Time Auction provided me with a chance to meet Peggy, who leads a busy life by being involved in all aspects of Grassroots Pantry (Peggy is literally involved from the hiring process, to the menu choice, and even the type of water that her customers drink!).

It was very inspiring to meet someone who is so passionate about what they are doing. Not only does Peggy love cooking, but she also opened Grassroots Pantry to become more than just a restaurant. It is also a medium to educate people about their bodies as well as promoting a sustainable and responsible lifestyle through making well informed decisions.

I think I really have to learn from her in terms of how to be so calm when dealing with stressful situations and people who are irrational through meditation and living a spiritual life. And I will definitely check out the books she has recommended!

Although Peggy has a lot to do, she is still willing to take the time out to meet us. I think that is really awesome of her! Thank you Peggy!”

Wendy Ki, HKUST Student

“My major takeaway from Peggy’s meeting is: there are ups and downs in life, but if you break it, you will make it. Thank you Peggy for her yummy food and meaningful sharing!”

Shivani Hemnani, Centennial College Student

“Meeting with an inspirational being like Peggy was a very encouraging experience. Her story assured me that if one truly believes in their aspirations and has a clear focus, they can accomplish their goals with ease, despite all the hurdles. Listening to Peggy also taught me the importance of working responsibly and wholeheartedly for true satisfaction. Furthermore, Peggy raised our awareness regarding the pursuit of true satisfaction — that it only comes from serving the higher purpose of working towards the betterment of humanity and that it is something that only comes from within.”

Jaime Kaplan-Perico, HKUST Student

“It is a memorable experience to hear the idea of Peggy by enjoying the greenest and freshest food. Green lifestyle is certainly what urban citizen should pursue.”

Jade Cheung, Admin Assistant

“Thank you very much for spending the time with us, you are a very lovely person! I wish you all the best :)”

This article originally appeared on our blog on Medium:

Updated on 8 April, 2021
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