Kylie Kwong is a chef I truly admire. Not only for her delicious Asian inspired food, but also for her committment to ethical, sustainable produce and support of both the natural and human environment. Kylie is never just talk. She takes action.
Having made the switch to using quality sustainable produce both at home and at her restaurant, Billy Kwong in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, Kylie is a true believer in making the world a better place through supporting organisations and producers who care to make a change. It was her book, It tastes better, that I consicously chose to feature a recipe from recently – inspiration is a great thing, and Kylie is right: fresh and well looked-after ingredients do taste better.
It is no surprise that she has chosen to launch her brand new fair-trade dinnerware range through Oxfam Australia. Influenced by Kylie’s Chinese heritage with a modern twist, similar to the highly acclaimed food featured on the Billy Kwong menu and in her many cookbooks, the Lotus range is fair trade and hand-made. Crafted in earthy tones of charcoal, jade green, gold and dusty pink, the range includes a soup bowl, a rice bowl, a spoon and a Chinese teapot and teacup. Every piece tells a story. If you’ve been following this year’s MasterChef, you may have caught a glimpse of the range in the episode screened on Sunday 17 July, where Kylie and the Dalai Lama were special guests.
As an Oxfam ambassador, Kylie strongly believes in the power of fair trade to combat poverty and make a difference to the lives of families in developing countries. Visiting the workshop at Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts in Vietnam, which will be producing the range, and seeing the positive impact of fair trade working conditions on not only the workers but their entire communities, must have been one of the most rewarding experiences.
“The fair trade system puts people back front and centre of the supply chain, and can make a tangible difference to the lives of families in developing countries. Growing up, I was heavily influenced by my mother and her sisters, and I feel a real affinity for Mai’s work with Vietnamese women.”
At the offcial launch held at Tim Olsen Gallery in Woollahra yesterday, Oxfam’s Director of Trading, Nadine Silverberg, who initiated the Lotus range project, said that Kylie’s profile will help raise awareness of fair trade produced homewares, perhaps to the same level Australians are now able to make fair choices about their coffee, tea and chocolate.
So, what does fair trade mean for the people working on Kylie’s range?
People employed at the Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts workshop, receive the following benefits:
- Above average wages
- Good working conditions
- Regular working hours
- Opportunities for training and career progression
- Cooking facilities and time off to prepare lunch
- A workers’ representative to raise any issues with the owner
Wholesome Cook attended the event as a guest of Oxfam Australia. A big thank you to Raina Hunter of Oxfam for inviting me alongside a handful of other bloggers (Mish Delish, Jasmyne Tea, Fig and Cherry, Simon Food Favourites), to the Billy Kwong team who catered for the afternoon and to Kalleske Wines for providing some lovely organic wines for the enjoyment of the guests.