Name: Christopher Kong

Job title: CEO & co-founder

Company: Better Nature Tempeh

What was your first job? Technically speaking, co-founding Better Nature Tempeh has been my first (and only) permanent full-time job. But if we’re counting part-time/ad hoc jobs, I was a child actor in Hong Kong when I was 10 years old and blew my first paycheque on spoiling my dog with all the treats she could ever ask for.

What’s been your worst job interview? When I was at uni I had no clue what I wanted to do once I graduated so I threw my hat into many rings, one of which was asset management. As part of the interview process, they asked me what I would invest in if I had £1m – a perfectly reasonable question to ask a budding investor.

However, given that I studied biochemistry, all I could think about was funding scientific research. Little did I know that grant funding for exploratory research is probably one of the worst ways to invest cash, given the extremely high risk profile, making it almost exclusively reliant on donations from charitable foundations. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t make it through to the next stage, but I guess I always had quite a high tolerance for risk!

What was the first music single you bought? ‘Oops!.. I Did It Again’ by Britney Spears. A testament to Britney’s universal influence, I was just five at the time.

How do you describe your job to your friends? I just cook them a plant-based meal (typically a curry or a stir-fry) packed with delicious cubes of our organic tempeh.

I let the dish do the talking.

“It’s grossly unfair that retailers often charge 10%-15% margins on meat compared to 35%-40% on plant-based protein

What is the most rewarding part of your job? The impact we’re having on people’s health. As part of this, we donate 1% of our total revenues to Yum, our charity partner based in Indonesia, which does incredible work to alleviate childhood malnutrition. It feels great to give back to Indonesia, where tempeh originated from, whilst also improving the health of thousands of children and their parents.

What is the least rewarding part? Entrepreneurship can be glamorised but running a startup often involves a lot of compromise and flexibility. I hate having to cancel weekend plans after an unpredictably difficult week in the office or having to reschedule dinners with friends when things don’t go quite as planned.

What is your motto in life? The journey is the destination.

Too often people obsess over the finish line and forget to smell the roses along the way. I used to only see how much more there was to go and rarely stopped to reflect on what we’d already achieved or whether I was enjoying the process. I’m still working on getting better at this and this motto certainly helps to hammer home the message.

If you were allowed one dream perk, what would it be? To have unlimited access to a small army of Welsh corgis at work – but not have to deal with any of their mess!

Do you have any phobias? Thankfully I’ve not been diagnosed with any phobias but I’m quite scared of raw meat. My girlfriend is a flexitarian so sometimes she cooks meat at home and looking at it makes me feel a bit ill.

If you could change one thing in grocery, what would it be? Given we know that the carbon emissions of meat production are a huge contributor to the total environmental impact of our groceries and the cost of plant-based protein is the primary concern that consumers have about the category, I think it’s grossly unfair that retailers often charge 10%-15% margins on meat compared to 35%-40% on plant-based protein.


I would make it a far fairer playing field and ask retailers to either reflect the true cost of meat production to the consumer or help consumers make healthier and more sustainable purchasing decisions by reducing the margins they put on top of plant-based proteins.

What luxury would you have on a desert island? I think it goes without saying I’d have a sack of soybeans and some tempeh starter culture so I can ferment my own tempeh! Hopefully, I’d at least have enough protein to last until someone comes to my rescue.

What animal most reflects your personality? A dog. More specifically, a French bulldog or a Welsh corgi. Overly enthusiastic, an endless well of energy, a loyal companion, but can perhaps get a bit annoying if not disciplined!

What’s your favourite film and why? How To Train Your Dragon. The animated film tells a story of how a brainy misfit changes the life of his people by teaching them how to work with nature, rather than against it. By changing how his people view dragons, he was able to help them overcome their greatest fears and find prosperity to the betterment of all, dragons included. I think there’s so much we can learn from this film and the animation is still incredible, despite it being 13 years old.

What has been the most embarrassing moment in your life? Once, in front of the entire team, I accidentally called Elin, my co-founder & CMO of Better Nature Tempeh, by my girlfriend’s name and didn’t realise it until everyone started giggling.

I think I can be forgiven though, given how much time Elin and I spend together, but I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea!

Which celebrity would you most like to work with and why? I think Jamie Oliver would be so much fun to work with.

He’s an excellent chef and communicator, and is so passionate about the impact food can have on people’s health. It’d be amazing to work with Jamie to help popularise tempeh as an affordable, versatile and delicious source of protein and fibre.

What would your death row meal be? Easy – a traditional Indonesian dish called Tempe Kecap.

Put simply, it’s deep-fried tempeh glazed with a thick sweet Indonesian soy sauce made even more delicious with fried aromatic herbs and spices such as galangal, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, ginger and bay leaves. It’s nirvana on a plate, especially when served with a simple bowl of fragrant jasmine rice and a side of stir-fried morning glory.

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