Health Box: eat clean and get lean
Jess Cheung’s food delivery business focuses on nutrition and healthy eating
What do you have for lunch on a workday? If you’re lucky enough to take half an hour out of the office and get a decent meal, then well done you. But if you’re one of the thousands of Hong Kong workers who just don’t have the time to get out and buy a meal, then, really, what do you do? Step forward the delivery companies. Firms like Deliveroo and Foodpanda have become delivery giants in our city, feeding those businesspeople who have to ‘dine al-desko’. But how healthy are the options on these menus? Is there too much junk food to choose from?
Jess Cheung reckons she’s come up with a much better alternative. The young entrepreneur has started up Health Box, a food delivery company that only serves healthy meals to offices across Hong Kong Island. Her team cooks the meals every morning and then delivers the ‘health boxes’ to hungry office workers. There are meal plans too, helping people eat healthy alternatives throughout the week. And Cheung, who came up with the concept while she was based at the theDesk co-working space in Sai Wan last year, said her business has already been a hit. “The demand for Health Box has been overwhelming,” she says. “We’ve only been operating for a couple of months but it seems Hongkongers were desperate for healthy, tasty meals!”
Yes, there are cha chaan tengs or McDonald’s or Café de Coral but going to these places meant I just gained weight quickly, particularly as I had no time to exercise.”
Cheung, whose motto is ‘Eat clean, Get lean’, says she was inspired to launch Health Box because she was ‘a typical city worker’ but was ‘so overwhelmed’ by her workload and the amount of overtime she had to do. “I had no time to go grocery shopping or cook,” she says, “and there are so few limited healthy options in Hong Kong. Yes, there are cha chaan tengs or McDonald’s or Café de Coral but going to these places meant I just gained weight quickly, particularly as I had no time to exercise.”
“I realised,” continues Cheung, “that so many other Hongkongers were in the same boat. So Health Box came about when I decided to take action. I’m passionate about cooking and healthy eating, so I turned this passion into a business. And now I hope to inspire and educate people on having a healthy diet and the importance of eating clean food. Food can really change a person’s lifestyle as well as their body!”
Cheung was born and bred in Hong Kong but studied human biology and food nutrition as well as marketing and brand management in the UK. She taught herself how to cook to a high standard from the age of 13, however the 24-year-old returned to our city after graduation because she ‘preferred the HK environment’. She’s been back for three years now, ‘taking the risk’ of quitting her ‘stable job’ at a global specialist recruitment firm and becoming an entrepreneur last year. “I love to cook and to experiment with different kinds of ingredients and play around with different kinds of flavours,” she says. “My whole family is in the food and service industry. They also run their own restaurant, takeaways and even karaoke bar in the UK. So I was exposed to a lot of cooking and chefs from a young age. I’ve been eating good food all my life.”
As well as the lunches, Health Box also provides nutrition and fitness consultations. Plus, the meal plans are categorised into ‘A Healthy Me’, ‘Weight Control’ and ‘Protein Power’. “With more than 100 recipes and combinations,” says Cheung, “it’s quite hard to say what the best dish is at Health Box. But a few of our popular dishes that have earned praise from customers include our Thai green curry chicken with brown rice and mixed greens, our wild salmon fillet with sweet chilli spinach noodles and veggies, our black pepper beef tenderloin with bell peppers and mixed veggies and our lean chicken burger with buffalo sauce, roasted sweet potatoes and veggies.”
Health Box may not be cheap when compared to a cha chaan teng or McDonald’s, though. “We don’t compare ourselves with the standard fast food chains,” says Cheung. “Instead we focus on bringing quality ingredients and tasty recipes to customers. For example, our chicken is sourced from an Australian farm and it’s hormone and antibiotic-free. We use fresh wild-caught salmon and grass-fed Australian beef. No, it’s not as cheap as the local food takeaways but it tastes much better. Most importantly, it does good to your body!”
“Healthy eating has boomed in the past few years,” continues Cheung, “as people have become more savvy and concerned with what they eat. Businesses in Hong Kong have adapted and become more acceptable to online food ordering, too, especially with the rise of delivery companies such as Foodpanda and Deliveroo. But there’s nevertheless been a gap in the market for a company that provides healthy meals and calculated nutrition. So that’s the niche we’re filling!”
During Cheung’s time at theDesk, Health Box was only a concept. But she started the business at the co-working space and she admits the staff and founders ‘gave a lot of support and guidance’. “I love the people and community at theDesk!” she says. “A lot of the ideas which members shared with me and the communications between people of different backgrounds and industries helped a lot when it came to making decisions.”
So where next for Health Box? “There are different directions I’d like to take the company in the future,” says Cheung. “It’s all uncertain at the moment as the company is still very young and, no pun intended, green. However, I do hope to have a Health Box shop soon and I’d like to partner up with gyms and coffee shops so that pickup points can be arranged for customers to collect their healthy meals. We will also be thinking of combining food and technology in the near future. It’s exciting times for us. The future looks… healthy!”
Health Box is based at Bite Unite, 15 Lung On St, Wan Chai. For details, call Jess Cheung on 6176 2941 or visit healthboxhk.com. The meals are freshly prepared and delivered out every morning. The company only delivers to Hong Kong Island, however Cheung ‘hopes to expand to Kowloon side in the near future’. Health Box is also delivering to theDesk. We will act as a pickup point for the SYP and K-Town neighbourhoods so contact us to arrange.