Heinz Food Heroes finalists announced

By Berenice, Monday 19 October 2020

Heinz Food Heroes – the new awards programme from Heinz and Arena – has selected 24 finalists from the many entries that flooded in from across the UK over the last two months. The finalists, who come from all corners of the food industry, from care homes, to pubs, cafes and even an oil rig, have all gone above and beyond to make an exceptional difference to their community over the last year. One winner from each category – ‘Individual’ and ‘Team’ – will win a £5000 grant to put towards a training programme or apprenticeship of their choice.

The awards initiative launched in July this year to recognise the inspiring work and dedication from both individuals and teams to support their communities in what has been an exceptionally tough and challenging year.

Feeding the NHS, feeding the elderly who were isolating, morale-boosting online fitness classes, tackling mental health, family cookery classes, providing meals for the homeless and a soup kitchen all featured among the finalists’ achievements.

The finalists:

Most Heroic Individual

Celebrates someone who works in food and has gone the extra mile to make things better in their community in the last 12 months. 

(left to right, starting from the top left)

  • Leon Aarts – Founder, Compassion London: Leon secured a commercial kitchen and formed a group of chefs and volunteers to produce meals for NHS workers, the homeless and families in need.
  • Daphine Aikens – Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank: Daphine secured use of Olympia Exhibition Centre so she and the team could pack and deliver to 2000 families every week, during lockdown.
  • Nicole Pisani – Founder, Chefs in Schools: During lockdown, Nicole converted school kitchens into food hubs, which collectively produced 20,000 nutritious meals a week for children and the local community.
  • Sarah Robb – Foodservice Marketing Manager, Premier Foods: Sarah has been running free online Zumba classes for 0-4 year olds and the elderly to help her community stay connected.
  • Christine Wilkinson – Age UK, Gateshead: Using her catering skills, Christine prepared and delivered 100 hot meals a day for the elderly and isolated in Gateshead, during lockdown.
  • Mark Waine - Restaurant Manager, San Rocco: Mark has worked with a local speech and language therapist to create picture menus for customers with communication challenges. He works hard to ensure the restaurant is inclusive.
  • Steve Brown - Founder, Food for Good: Steve created the Food for Good collective, using his many contacts in the hospitality industry.  Over lockdown they produced 60,000 meals for those that needed them.
  • Jamie West – Publican, St Albans: Jamie opened a soup kitchen from his pub once a week to give those in need a hot meal for free.
  • Kris Hall – The Burnt Chef Project : Kris raises awareness of mental health and has opened up conversations for over 10,000 people all over the world, since the initiative was launched earlier this year.
  • Tracy Harriett – NEC, Amadeus: Tracy has created a network of businesses and colleagues to gather and donate food, clothes, bedding and furniture for local charities.
  • Neelam Rehan – Catering Business owner: Neelam has partnered with local charities to donate food and her time to create care packages for the homeless and vulnerable families in Wolverhampton.
  • Alison Jones – Senior Community Organiser, Halifax Opportunities Trust: During lockdown, Alison personally sourced surplus stock from food business and wholesalers and collaborated with local restaurants and takeaways to create meals for families to take home.   

Most Heroic Team

Celebrates part of or a whole team working in food who go the extra mile to make things better in their community in the last 12 months.

(left to right, starting from the top left)

  • Club Mexicana: The team provided meals for NHS and care workers, set up a food bank in Tottenham and fundraised for local independent businesses who didn’t receive support from the government.
  • IJess Consulting: An event caterer and foodservice consultant prepared up to 200 meals 2-3 times a week from their home kitchen to feed frontline NHS staff, through critical NHS.
  • BaxterStorey: Sharing their deep-rooted passion for food, a furloughed team from BaxterStorey collaborated to create ‘Food First Aid kits.  They produced over 11,000 and delivered to eight hospital and six emergency services centres.
  • Brigade Bar + Kitchen: During lockdown, the Beyond Food apprentice programme reached out to contacts, volunteers, counsellors and mental health first aiders to provide regular telephone support to over 120 individuals.
  • Histon Produce Co Ltd: This fruit and veg wholesaler repivoted its business, including equipment purchases, to create essential food packs for vulnerable people in the local area and NHS staff and their families.
  • Fish&Chips@Weston Grove: This family-run business sponsors a homeless football team.  They feed the team, sponsor the kit and have regular collections.  They also feed 40 people a week in temporary hospitals.
  • Well-Safe Guardian: The Cater crew onboard the drilling rig raised over £2,500 with a demanding fitness challenge, for NHS Grampian Endowment (Covid) Fund to show their appreciation for those on the frontline in the NE Scotland.
  • Severn Vale Community Kitchen: The team worked with local charities and agencies to provide wholesome meals and distributed them to the local community.
  • The Bellflower: Pub manager – Heather – and her partner turned the pub into a food bank during lockdown, providing food, toiletries, toys and nappies.
  • Amadeus Catering / NHS Team: The 84-strong team joined Army personnel, construction teams and technicians to deliver a 2000 bed hospital within just eight days inside the NEC halls.
  • Foodhall Project: The team of volunteers adapted their soup kitchens to source, sort and send food donation parcels during lockdown. They’ve helped keep the most vulnerable people in Sheffield nourished.
  • Yummy Pub Company: As hubs of the community, Yummy pubs delivered food to neighbours who were unable to get out and partnered with Only A Pavement Away and Camden Brewery to provide meals and parcels for London’s homeless and NHS workers.

The winner from each category will be selected by the esteemed judging panel which includes; Leo Kattou, head chef at Simpson’s restaurant and 2019 MasterChef: The Professionals finalist, Candice Brown, winner of The Great British Bake off and owner of The Green Man Pub, Lorraine Wood, Director of Arena – The Hospitality Network and Jojo de Noronha, Kraft Heinz Northern European President.  Winners will be announced early November 2020.

Continuing to Educate, Engage and Inspire

By Berenice, Friday 25 September 2020

After a week of announcements we now have some sort of idea of what lies ahead and want to take this opportunity to update you on what Arena is doing to support our members. Staying connected is going to be even more important than ever before.


Most of you know, Arena is the networking organisation for the foodservice and hospitality industry.  Through our relevant and inspiring events, we’ve brought thousands of people together to learn, share ideas and build relationships.

It’s disappointing not to have clear guidance on what is going to happen with physical events in the near future, however, it doesn’t mean that Arena is going to stop doing what we love doing which is bringing people together.  We’ve been doing it for over 35 years so we are not going to stop now!  But, like many other businesses, we’ve had to adapt and look at a different way of doing things.  

These are challenging times for our industry and although our physical events are on pause, we’re proud to be able to continue to support our members and foodservice and hospitality colleagues. We've created a number of virtual initiatives and opportunities to have the important conversations and keep us all connected. 

These include:

  •  Ask Arena:  Our series of webinars include relevant speakers, insight and research that spark debate and provide practical advice and support.  
  • Friday Focus (formerly Feel Good Friday Newsletters): A bi-weekly platform where our members can share news and information which will also be featured on 
  • our website
  • Members Blogs: Guest members share their Covid-19 experiences, learnings and solutions with our wider community
  • Zoom Get Togethers: Bringing our members together in an informal, virtual environment to pause, catch up and share experiences and ideas

Plus we will soon be announcing some exciting new virtual events so watch this space!

Get In Touch

If you are an Arena Corporate member and would like to contribute to our Friday Focus newsletters, feature in one of our Members Blogs or have a subject you would like us to cover via our monthly Ask Arena webinars, please get in touch – we would love to hear from you.  Either send Lorraine Wood an email or give her a call on 07803 853618.

We all work in a wonderful, resilient industry and we will bounce back. In the meantime let’s stay safe and stay connected.