Empathy is a key component to being human—we see someone else experiencing something and our empathy mirror neurons kick in and, as far as the brain is concerned, we’re experiencing the same thing, too. And it’s even more amplified if the situation is recreated for us, like say, being an orangutan? Singapore chef Andre Chiang wants to make you feel like one of the endangered gentle creatures by eating their dinner so that you’ll understand the serious plight they face.
Restaurant Andre is one of San Pellegrino’s top 100 restaurants in the world and the brainchild of 35-year old Taiwan-born, French-trained chef Andre Chiang with a serious passion for preserving the world’s dwindling rainforest, especially in Borneo, where deforestation (mainly for palm oil) is devastating orangutan populations. In an article published in the Wall Street Journal, Chiang said, “People catch the intention of what you’re trying to do, and they understand. I think it will come slowly. We have to plant the first seed and see how it grows.”
To combat this issue, Chiang is adding the “Orangutan Salad” to his menu, which he hopes will inspire his restaurant patrons to learn more about the issue. And the salad’s not just named after the animal; it actually contains foods they naturally eat including wild ferns, durian flowers, wild figs, tree berries, mushrooms and orchid leaves. He’ll be sourcing the ingredients through his sustainable produce project, the Rainforest Kitchen, where he’ll work directly with villagers in threatened areas of Borneo to inspire sustainable harvesting methods rather than the destruction of this valuable resource.
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Image: Chi King