Home-grown food tech CEO on list of rising F&B leaders

SinFooTech's Jonathan Ng is sole S'porean on 50 Next list of budding talent in food-related industries worldwide

Mr Jonathan Ng (left) is chief executive of SinFooTech, which makes alcoholic drinks from soya-based whey. Other Asians on the 50 Next list include agriculture advocate Cherrie Atilano (top) and pastry chef Natsuko Shoji (above).
Mr Jonathan Ng (above) is chief executive of SinFooTech, which makes alcoholic drinks from soya-based whey. Other Asians on the 50 Next list include agriculture advocate Cherrie Atilano and pastry chef Natsuko Shoji.PHOTO: 50 NEXT
Mr Jonathan Ng (left) is chief executive of SinFooTech, which makes alcoholic drinks from soya-based whey. Other Asians on the 50 Next list include agriculture advocate Cherrie Atilano (top) and pastry chef Natsuko Shoji (above).
Mr Jonathan Ng is chief executive of SinFooTech, which makes alcoholic drinks from soya-based whey. Other Asians on the 50 Next list include agriculture advocate Cherrie Atilano (above) and pastry chef Natsuko Shoji.PHOTO: 50 NEXT
Mr Jonathan Ng (left) is chief executive of SinFooTech, which makes alcoholic drinks from soya-based whey. Other Asians on the 50 Next list include agriculture advocate Cherrie Atilano (top) and pastry chef Natsuko Shoji (above).
Mr Jonathan Ng is chief executive of SinFooTech, which makes alcoholic drinks from soya-based whey. Other Asians on the 50 Next list include agriculture advocate Cherrie Atilano and pastry chef Natsuko Shoji (above).PHOTO: 50 NEXT

The Singaporean co-founder of a start-up that makes alcoholic drinks from soya whey has made it to a global list of next-generation leaders in food-linked industries.

Mr Jonathan Ng, 30, chief executive of SinFooTech, is the only Singaporean on the inaugural 50 Next list, released by British media company William Reed Business Media, which puts out the annual World's 50 Best Restaurants and Bars lists.

The 50 Next list features unranked entries - a mix of groups and individuals aged 20 to 35 - from 34 countries across seven food-related categories - game-changing producers, technological disruptors, empowering educators, entrepreneurial creatives, science innovators, hospitality pioneers and trailblazing activists.

Those who made it to the list were whittled down from 700 candidates who were considered from a pool of applicants, nominees or talent scouted by 50 Next's academic partner Basque Culinary Center.

Mr Ng is one of six people recognised under the tech disruptors category.

He was also on The Straits Times' 30 And Under: Young Singaporeans To Watch, published in December last year.

His company SinFooTech was founded in 2018 and is located at The Hangar by NUS Enterprise, an on-campus base to house National University of Singapore start-ups. It is known for creating Sachi, a first-of-its-kind alcoholic beverage made from soya whey - a by-product of manufacturing tofu which has little commercial value. It can cause water pollution if it is not properly disposed of.

The low-calorie alcoholic drink is said to have fruity and floral notes, and a sake-like flavour profile.

On making it to the list, Mr Ng says: "It is a recognition of our team's work and an affirmation of our beliefs over the past few years.

"SinFooTech's mission of promoting a circular economy in the food manufacturing industry through bio-technology is something that is shared with many of the food technology companies on this list. I believe this congregation of efforts will help to improve food security, sustainability and move towards Singapore's aim of 30 by 30."

Singapore's "30 by 30" goal is to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030.

Sachi will be available in food and beverage outlets soon, says Mr Ng, who has also been working with overseas partners to develop their own versions of soya whey alcoholic beverages for their own markets.

"This ensures that soya whey around the world can be used as a raw material instead of being disposed of as a by-product, producing more food for people to enjoy by using the same amount of resources," he adds.

Besides Mr Ng, the list features Australian fish butcher Josh Niland - a 32-year-old champion of "nose-to-tail" whole fish cooking; Ghanaian tech innovator Isaac Sesi, 28, of Sesi Technologies, a company that solves agricultural challenges; and the youngest on the list - 20-year-old Basque medical student Maitane Alonso Monasterio, who invented a machine to preserve food.

Other Asians on the list include Japanese pastry chef Natsuko Shoji - recipient of Asia's Best Pastry Chef in last year's Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list; as well as chef-environmentalist Louise Mabulo and agriculture advocate Cherrie Atilano - both from the Philippines.

Mr William Drew, director of content for 50 Best, says: "As the world of gastronomy strives to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic, it is more important than ever for us to support, empower and celebrate those at every level of the food and drink chain.

"We pledge to nurture, uplift and provide a platform for those fighting for a brighter future for gastronomy."

Next year, 50 Next will hold a live event in Bilbao, Spain, to celebrate those on this and next year's lists. The World's 50 Best Restaurants is slated to have its awards ceremony on June 8 in Antwerp, Belgium.

• For more information, go to theworlds50best.com/50next

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2021, with the headline 'Home-grown food tech CEO on list of rising F&B leaders'. Subscribe