Members’ News

April 2022

The Hub puts the focus on wholesale for latest category guide launch #

With an increased level of interest in the UK wholesale sector, specialist retail and foodservice PR and marketing agency, The Hub has chosen the channel as the topic of its latest in-depth category catch up.
With a focus like never before on the UK supply chain, the last year has seen the wholesale channel become central to the wider news agenda, as well as within the industry itself. The Hub has created its series of bite-sized guides across all aspects of the industry to help share information across the industry, covering individual product categories, route to market channel insight and much more. The category catch-up series is aimed at everyone across the industry, from new-comers to established professionals, and each catch-up blends the latest data and understanding with specialist knowledge and first-hand experience to provide a snapshot of the industry at a moment in time.
This latest guide in the series takes a look at the wholesale channel across both the retail and out of home markets, reviewing its health post-Covid, and identifying some of the leading and emerging consumer trends which will drive the market forward in the coming months and years.
Rebecca Riches, founder and managing director of The Hub said, “Our category catch-up series has been really popular and struck a chord with people across a range of channels and categories. We’ve sought to cut through the noise and create a guide which concisely distils the key points, the essential trends and critical insights into one handy overview. Each one is sure to tell the reader something new and interesting, whether they’ve been in the industry five months or 25 years!”
Contact to access your copy of the catch-up.


Research by EMW shows the value of UK food and drink M&A deals jumps 950% to £4.5bn in 2021 as private equity targets sector #

Free-from’ and healthy food companies popular as consumer wellness trend continues

The value of M&A deals for UK food and drink companies has jumped 950% from £430m in 2020 to £4.5bn in 2021*, shows research by EMW, the commercial law firm.
The number of reported deals for UK food and drink companies jumped 62% from 29 in 2020 to 47 in 2021.
The biggest deal in 2021 saw private equity fund CVC Capital Partners purchase Unilever’s UK-based tea operations, including PG Tips, Lipton and Pukka, for £3.8bn.
EMW explains that the rise in deals is partly down to private equity funds targeting high growth areas of the food and drink sector where consumers are prepared to pay premium prices. This includes free-from, vegan and heritage brand companies.
Overall, there were seven private equity-backed deals for free-from and vegan companies in 2021, making up 15% of all deals in the sector.
In total 24 deals in 2021 were private equity backed, making up 42% of M&A deals in the sector. This is up from 10 in 2020, equal to 31% of deals.
High-profile deals for free-from and vegan companies in 2021 include Gosh!, who produce plant-based falafels and burgers and Enough, makers of a fermented meat-alternative protein.
EMW says this reflects the shift in spending by consumers towards health foods, vegan and free-from foods. The value of the global health and wellness food market is estimated to rise to £162bn by 2026, up from £80bn in 2021.**

More overseas buyers acquire UK food and drink companies

The number of UK food and drink deals by overseas buyers rose from 18 in 2020 to 22 in 2021.
EMW explains that British heritage brands are favoured due to their international name recognition, which many view as a hallmark for quality, giving the potential for buyers to increase margins. For example, Wensleydale Creamery was acquired by Canadian dairy giant Saputo for £23m.

Daisy Divoka, Senior Associate at EMW, says: “The UK’s food and drink sector is attracting even greater interest of private equity funds and overseas buyers, who see significant scope for growth and margin expansion. The UK is an attractive market with exciting and innovative food and drink brands – including vegan and free-from food companies – available at undemanding valuations.”

“Private equity continues to be a big driver of deal activity within the food and drink sector, with funds under pressure from investors to deploy cash. PE funds are looking to capitalise on the global wellness trend to add free-from, health-conscious and vegan food and drink companies to their portfolio

Seven gold medals for Sodexo in 2022 RoSPA Health and Safety Awards #

Sodexo is celebrating seven Gold Medal Awards at the 2022 RoSPA Health and Safety Awards. Its corporate services business also received the President’s Award for over ten consecutive years of receiving a Gold Medal, and the Sodexo Property Professional Services business also won the Safe@work-Safe@home trophy. 

RoSPA’s Health and Safety awards are internationally recognised and awarded to organisations demonstrating outstanding health and safety standards.  

For 11 consecutive years, Sodexo’s Corporate Services business has successfully achieved a Gold Medal Award in recognition of its commitment and initiatives to communicate and drive a world class health and safety system, with the priority of keeping its employees and customers safe while at work. For the second year, it has also been recognised with the President’s Award.  

Sodexo’s healthcare team received Gold Medal Awards at / for:

Royal Stoke University Hospital for the eighth consecutive year 
Manchester University Foundation Trust (MFT) at two locations - for the eighth consecutive year at the MFT Oxford Road campus which includes five hospitals (Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and Saint Mary’s Hospital), and Wythenshawe Hospital for its ninth year running 
The Covid-19 test centres which Sodexo operated up until their closure at the end of March 2022 

Sodexo’s government team received Gold Medal Awards at / for:

Colchester Garrison for a third year 
Project Allenby Connaught received for the first time  
The Property Professional Services team for the second consecutive year and will also be lifting the RoSPA 2022 Safe@Work-Safe@Home Trophy at the London awards ceremony next month 

Sean Haley, region chair, Sodexo UK & Ireland, said: “At Sodexo, the health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues, customers, and all those we serve is our top priority. We are proud of our teams who have entered the RoSPA Health and Safety Awards and who have received Gold Medal Awards.  A special congratulations to our corporate services team for a second President’s Award and the Property Professional Services team for the Safe@Work-Safe@Home trophy.”  

Organisations receiving a RoSPA Award are recognised as being world-leaders in health and safety practice. Every year, nearly 2,000 entrants vie to achieve the highest possible accolade in what is the UK’s longest-running health and safety industry awards. 

Julia Small, RoSPA’s Achievements Director, said: “This is a fantastic and well-deserved accomplishment. All our award entrants demonstrate their unwavering commitment and passion for keeping people safe at work.  
“By receiving this recognition Sodexo joins like-minded businesses and organisations worldwide, who represent the very best in their approach to health and safety.   

“I would like to add my personal thanks for all the work that it has taken to secure this well-deserved award - congratulations to all those involved, who champion and drive up health and safety standards every day.

For more information about the RoSPA Health and Safety Awards visit 


Elior launches new Family Friendly Policy to nurture its workforce #

Leading contract caterer, Elior, launches new Family Friendly Policy to aid employee wellbeing. The 2022 family friendly policy introduces menopause awareness activity, bereavement leave in the event of baby loss and an enhanced maternity and paternity leave package. The revitalised Family Friendly Policy focuses on Elior’s ambition to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace culture, ensuring that everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
Elior recognises that the menopause is, in particular, a taboo topic. Breaking the taboo and raising awareness of the menopause and the impact it can have in the workplace, means that colleagues who may be experiencing the menopause will be better supported at work. This is completely inclusive of women, transgender, non-binary and intersex. Elior will encourage open conversations between managers and colleagues and will offer information and supportive material on its learning platform, Thrive.
The contract caterer’s revitalised Family Friendly Policy also supports any colleague who experiences a miscarriage (prior to 24 weeks of pregnancy) or stillbirth (after 24 weeks of pregnancy). Two weeks fully paid leave is available to all affected colleagues, both male and female, across the company. There is no minimum length of service required.
Elior is training managers to provide appropriate practical and emotional support to a colleague affected by baby loss either before or after 24 weeks’ gestation. Raising awareness of this topic is important because it means that colleagues who may have experienced baby loss are able to access the support they need.
Elior will also consider any aspects of the working environment that may worsen menopausal symptoms or feelings when experiencing the loss of a baby. This may include identifying and addressing specific risks to the health and wellbeing of those affected by the menopause or a miscarriage or stillbirth. Elior also offers support via its Colleague Support Programme which provides physical, mental and confidential support and free and confidential access to counsellors and advisors on-line or by phone.
In addition to Elior’s menopause awareness training programme and support for colleagues suffering a miscarriage or stillbirth, Elior has enhanced its maternity and paternity leave packages to encourage new parents to take more time off work to bond with their child and be with their family. This enhancement is also offered to colleagues who take adoption or shared parental leave.

Elior has introduced rigorous diversity and inclusion and wellbeing targets to be achieved by 2025. In two areas - increasing the number of female chefs at all levels and increasing the number of females in middle and senior manager positions within the Head Office - Elior has already exceeded its 2025 targets.
Emma Langford, Head of HR & People Development at Elior said: “Every company should be supporting its workforce in the best way it can. The pandemic has certainly shone a spotlight on wellbeing and this sparks the beginning of a more nurturing era.
At Elior, we looked and we listened. We took time to understand what the real concerns were, where people were really struggling and addressed these often-taboo issues. I’m thrilled that we are actively doing more to support colleagues going through the menopause and can offer extended emotional and financial support for colleagues grieving a baby loss. Our new Family Friendly Policy means our valued workforce now has more support in the areas that matter most.”

Rising cost of living sees average eating and drinking out spend decline -9% #

According to the latest data from Lumina Intelligence Eating & Drinking Out Panel, in the 12 weeks ending (12WE) 20/03/2022, average consumer spend per visit declined by -9%.

Driven by the decade high inflation, rising energy costs and fears of higher prices, disposable income is becoming squeezed and consumers are keeping a closer eye on outgoings.

This is evident in eating and drinking out frequency, with no change recorded versus the previous 12 week period (12WE 26/12/2021), indicating that consumers are restricting their spend per head and seeking affordable solutions from operators.
Eating out participation decreased moderately by -0.4ppts, with the cost of living crisis slowing the recovery of the market.

Breakfast occasions have seen the largest increase in consumer spend by +4%, whilst lunch (-10%), dinner (-8%) and snack (-5%) all recorded declines in average spend.

Coffee and sandwich shops gained +1.3ppts in channel share compared to the previous 12 weeks. This is driven by the eased Plan B restrictions, with more consumers returning back to offices on a hybrid basis. The decrease in consumer confidence caused by the cost of living crisis, increased fuel prices and current situation between Russia and Ukraine have led to a -1.0ppts decrease in share for pubs and bars, and a -0.9ppts decrease for restaurants, with consumers limiting discretionary spending and opting for lower ticket channels instead.

Greggs’ share of occasions has increased for snacks (+0.3ppts), overtaking Costa Coffee as the leading brand at snack occasions, driven by the variety of snacking options that Greggs offers to consumers. Costa Coffee saw its share of occasions fall by -0.9ppts.

Commenting on the results, Senior Insight Manager at Lumina Intelligence, Katie Prowse, said: “Following the easing of coronavirus restrictions, operators would have been hoping for a smooth ride to recovery. However, with decade high inflation, the road ahead will be challenging. Consumer confidence continues to fall, as average spend and penetration decline. Consumers are turning to lower ticket solutions and day-parts, causing restaurants and pubs to lose market share.”

Find out more about Lumina Intelligence’s Eating & Drinking Out Panel here

Freemans Event Partners makes key appointments to support growth and drive for sustainability #

Freemans Event Partners has expanded its team with the appointment of two high level senior roles within sustainability and commercial partnerships.
Chloe Lloyd joins the Gloucester-based multi-service event provider as Sustainability Manager, while Ross Parker takes up the role of Head of Commercial Partnerships.
Both Chloe and Ross bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, to help to take Freemans Event Partners into the next stage of growth. Chloe joins Freemans Event Partners with a track record of setting and delivering environmental goals and agendas, through her previous position with the Environment Agency.
Within the Environment Agency, Chloe held the roles of Warranted Waste Environment Officer and more recently Sustainable Business Partner for London, West & East Midlands.
While in this role, Chloe and her team picked up a prestigious accolade at the 2022 edie Sustainability Leaders Awards, the world’s largest sustainable business awards scheme. Their efforts in delivering on Net Zero saw them awarded the Net Zero Carbon Strategy of the Year award.
Stephen Freeman, CEO of Freemans Event Partners comments: “We’re thrilled to welcome Chloe to the family. It has been one of my ambitions this year to bring in a dedicated Sustainability Manager. Someone who can set the culture and the tone for what we do but have the skills to deliver our ESG priorities and help to create a best-in-class event experience.
“Chloe is hugely experienced in doing just this, and with an award-winning background I’m very excited to see what she brings to the table
Ross Parker also joins Freemans Event Partners, as its new Head of Commercial Partnerships.
From 2012 to 2018, Ross served as the Head of Sponsorship for the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) and until recently was the Head of Commercial Partnerships at the NEC Group.
Ross’s remit will be to develop and implement strategies which drive client and partner relationships, with a particular focus across high street, technologies, payment solutions and emerging markets.
Stephen Freeman, continues:
Ross comes to us with a tremendous pedigree having spent 11 years with the PGA and the last four with NEC Group. His knowledge and experience in the field is world class, he’s shown himself to be a great operator in sales and business development and we couldn’t be happier that he is joining the Freemans Event Partners’ team.”

Compass drives social value agenda #

Compass Group UK & Ireland has appointed a Head of Social Value, Laura Neville, dedicated to leading the social value agenda - with a focus on employees, clients and communities.
Laura will develop and deliver social value, in line with the National TOMs social value framework. She will support Compass’ “Our Climate Promise”, social mobility and health and wellbeing strategies, as well as measuring the impact of initiatives to inform future programmes and best practice. She will guide Compass’ clients to be at the forefront in understanding social value and what it can bring to their organisation, achieving their goals, aligning strategies and implementation.
Laura has a background in procurement and led the social value agenda for Compass’ procurement division, Foodbuy, from 2018. In 2020, she became Compass Group PLC’s Global Responsible Sourcing Lead and has now returned to the UK&I division to lead the social value agenda.
Compass is also partnering with the Social Value Portal, which aims to promote better business and community wellbeing through the integration of social value into day-to-day business. The Portal is an online solution that allows organisations to measure and manage the contribution they and their supply chain makes to society, reporting both non-financial and financial data to demonstrate value and progress, underpinned by the National TOMs.

These steps further determine Compass’ commitment to delivering social responsibility, as well as align with the Government’s levelling up agenda. In May 2021, Compass Group UK & Ireland announced its industry-leading target to reach Climate Net Zero by 2030 and launched a Roadmap and Charter, which provide more detail on the strategy to create a sustainable food system.
Throughout the Covid pandemic, Compass’ people centric approach was highlighted with initiatives such as the introduction of a medical helpline; the ‘Helping Hands’ financial fund, for employees who needed additional short-term support; and an enhanced Employee Assistance Programme. This momentum continued when in March 2021, Compass published its Opportunity Action Plan - the culmination of months of work with the Social Mobility Pledge team, to enhance opportunities for all.
Compass has also revealed plans to create the Compass Group Academy - a multi-million pound investment designed to develop much needed skills in the hospitality industry, with a focus on supporting young people from disadvantaged areas. Compass continues to deliver industry leading apprenticeships and has supported over 200 Kickstart placements. The company has adopted a diversity and inclusion agenda that ensures everyone can thrive.
Laura Neville, Head of Social Value for Compass Group UK & Ireland, commented:

The Covid pandemic has further highlighted the impact that corporate organisations can have in delivering social value. I have been privileged to have worked with many social enterprises and seen the positive impact they can have on our society and communities in which we live and work. Compass employs thousands of people, supporting many clients – so sharing best practice and ideas in this area will have a huge impact for us and those we work with. This is an exciting opportunity to ensure our social value strategy delivers tangible changes for our people, clients and society.
Robin Mills, Managing Director, Compass Group UK & Ireland, added:  

Compass has long been committed to doing the right thing. Throughout the pandemic we have had a people first philosophy, supporting our employees as well as the communities in which we work. Our social mobility strategy ensures whatever your background, you have an opportunity to progress and develop a career with us. Additionally, our net zero ambition has seen us put sustainability at the heart of all our decision making, as we work to transform the food system and achieve our net zero goal.
“Laura’s expertise and passion will further enhance our work in this area, especially through understanding our clients’ agendas alongside the communities they operate in - offering advice and support to maximise opportunities for doing good
Guy Battle, CEO, Social Value Portal, said: “As the UK’s leading food and support services provider, we are delighted that Compass is engaged with the social value movement and will also be joining us at this year’s National Social Value Conference.
“Generating, measuring and reporting social value initiatives that are already in place will serve to encourage both Compass and its suppliers to seek other ways to drive social value forward, increasing their positive impact on the communities in which they operate. We are looking forward to working with Laura and the team as they continue on their social value journey

CH&CO retains top three-star Food Made Good rating #

CH&CO has retained the maximum three-star Food Made Good rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA).

The top rating has been secured across the diverse catering and hospitality business – that operates at over 900 sites across workplaces, education, healthcare, destinations, venues, Livery and events in the UK and Ireland – with the overall score attained increasing by 4% to 74%.

The SRA Food Made Good rating framework measures sustainability across ten areas under three key themes of sourcing, society and environment.

CH&CO became the largest and most diverse contract caterer to be awarded the top rating by the SRA in 2018 and it has continued to work in partnership with the association to evolve and improve practices as part of its long-term sustainability strategy.

CH&CO performed exceptionally well under the society category, scoring an impressive 90% for Treating Staff Fairly (an increase of 15%) thanks in part to the introduction of its new family-friendly procedures with enhanced family benefits for all employees. It also achieved an incredibly high score of 95% (up 9%) for Support The Community.

In the report under treating staff fairly, the SRA stated: “Such an impressive score in this section which is testament to the diversity of ways that you innovate to improve the wellbeing and overall employee experience at CH&CO.”

CH&CO also scored very well under Waste No Food (80%) and Source Fish Responsibly (82%) demonstrating its ongoing commitment to progression in these areas.

Clare Clark, Sustainability Business Partner, CH&CO, said: “We’re incredibly proud to have retained the top three-star rating from the SRA. The past two years have been exceptionally challenging in the hospitality industry so the fact that we have been able to continue to improve our sustainability practices and gain significant advances in our scores is testament to the dedication of our teams and the culture of sustainability that we are cultivating.”

“It’s important that we also share our learnings and know-how through the Food Made Good Online Community to encourage and help others to be more sustainable. We are, for example, working with the SRA on a case study outlining our journey to achieve our fantastic society scores.”

Allister Richards, COO, CH&CO, added: “The SRA’s Food Made Good rating is known throughout the industry as the benchmark for sustainability, so to have retained the maximum rating so convincingly is fantastic and real credit to our ESG practices and our teams. It’s especially pleasing to have scored so well in the society section. Our people and the communities in which we work are very important to us and for this to be recognised is fantastic and sends a clear message that our people are valued and we are a great company to work for.

“We are not resting on our laurels. There is always more to be done and learn and we are committed to continue on our journey of operating responsibly and sustainably and doing the right thing to help protect our planet. Working in partnership with the SRA we are sure that we can continue to make great strides forward

Juliane Caillouette Noble, SRA’s Managing Director, said: “Ever since CH&CO started working with the SRA we’ve been impressed with the company’s commitment to constantly do more. In such a competitive market as contract catering, it can be easy to cut corners. CH&CO has demonstrated, with its recent Three Stars in our Food Made Good Sustainability Rating, that it’s possible to source, prepare and serve food that’s good for their customers, the planet and the bottom line.”

Sodexo and Quorn launch the first carbon neutral solution in contract catering #

Sodexo has joined forces with meat free brand Quorn to begin the global roll out of Carbono Cero, the world’s first carbon neutral solution for food services. The solution could save at least 7,296 tonnes of carbon each year.
This month sees the initial roll out of Carbono Cero at a number of Sodexo’s corporate client sites in the UK, with a plan to expand this globally to 1,500 sites by April 2023.
With over one-third of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions coming from the food system (IPCC), the Carbono Cero solution features recipes inspired by chefs at Quorn Professionals and Sodexo to help tackle the global climate crisis. 
Carbono Cero is a range of ten carbon-neutral recipes which are created using three key elements:

Quorn – accredited low carbon protein
Seasonality / locality – low carbon ingredients
Each recipe has been developed to reduce as much of its carbon footprint as possible before being offset to be carbon-neutral 
Powered by four innovative Quorn ingredients (Buttermilk Style Burger, No Beef Pieces, Fillets and Wings), each recipe’s carbon is calculated using a globally accredited tool, Klimato. The remaining carbon is then offset using gold standard projects such as afforestation programmes.
Recipes include Asian Inspired Potato Chaat & Saag Dahl, Dirty Wing Burrito Bowl, Japanese Crispy Katsu, Louisiana Style Buttermilk Burger, Napoli Style Lasagne, Double Dip Korean Wings, Middle Eastern Style Shawarma, Ancho Chilli Miso Mole and Indonesian Satay Wing Goreng.
Paul Jennings, Head of Food Development for Foodservice at Quorn Foods says:

Quorn is a company born out of sustainable values; it underpins everything we do. We want to be part of the solution that the planet needs so it was a pleasure to develop Carbono Cero with Sodexo. We share many of the same values and each have Net Positive strategies to ensure we’re having a positive impact on the planet.”
John Wright, Global Head of Food at Sodexo says, “Our guests want more and more plant-based dishes that taste great and help to reduce the impact on the environment.  It’s an exciting opportunity to leverage the collaboration with Quorn and for our chefs to bring carbon neutral dishes that are authentic and tasty for our guests to enjoy, that are also good for the planet.” 
As part of the global roll out, Quorn’s development chefs Paul Jennings and Mark Wetherill are providing culinary development sessions with Sodexo’s regional food platform teams. The sessions will focus on seasonality and sustainable cooking methods with toolkits and carbon saving reports for each site.

The training will help Sodexo’s teams engage guests, encouraging them to discover new ways of eating and bring to life the journey of what the solution is trying to achieve.
Paul adds: “Aspirational meat reducers make up 55% of the meat free market*1 and as environmental awareness skyrocketed in the pandemic and consumers of all ages recognised the impact of their meal choices, eating less meat is now a behaviour not a trend. We’re working hard with our partners, like Sodexo, to create delicious dishes that meet the needs of consumers.”
All Quorn products are made using Quorn’s super-protein, mycoprotein. It is nutritious and sustainable like no other protein and has a texture close to meat. It’s extremely versatile and can be used as both the finished product or an ingredient, opening up a huge opportunity for chefs across all foodservice channels, to create delicious and sustainable choices for their menus. Quorn’s mycoprotein is naturally high in protein and fibre and low in saturated fat. It produces 90% less carbon emissions and uses 90% less land and water than beef production*2.
Quorn’s ambition is to become a Net Positive business by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions within its own operations by 2030. The company also aims to achieve net zero emissions across it’s whole supply chain by 2040.
Sodexo’s global target – validated by SBTi – to reduce carbon emissions by 34% by 2025 (against a 2017 baseline) forms part of Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow commitment.
Having already exceeded this, the UK and Ireland business – which employs in excess of 30,000 people – has set its sights on becoming Carbon Neutral in its direct operations by 2025; by 2030 it aims to reduce carbon emissions across all three scopes by 50% and its long-term ambition is the decarbonisation of its business across all three scopes by 2045. Its net zero plan to achieve this includes increasing the number of plant-based meals and recipes to 33% by 2025.

Yes Chef! CH&CO crowns its Chef of the Year 2022 #

CH&CO has crowned Ricky Matonti its Chef of the Year 2022.

The talented Head Chef who works within the Venues by CH&CO business, showcased his exceptional culinary skills, creativity and sustainability know-how at the final of the CH&CO Chef of the Year competition.

Ricky impressed the judges with his menu of ‘Fermented barley & whey risotto, wild garlic ricotta, slow cooked duck egg, wild garlic oil, pickled shimeji’ to start, followed by a main of ‘Rabbit rack & loin, rabbit ragu tartlet, broccoli, onion & potato crumb, charred broccoli stem, broccoli, anchovy & chilli puree’ and to finish, a dessert of ‘Rhubarb & black pepper cake, meadowsweet cheesecake mousse, rhubarb vinegar gel, earl grey tuile’.

His deserved win has scooped Ricky the amazing prize of a trip to Seville with José Pizarro to visit Cinco Jotas Iberico Jamon production, tour Seville’s vibrant food scene, and taste vintage Sherries in the cellars of Jerez.

Nathan Kearney, Head Chef with Gather & Gather – CH&CO’s specialist workplace business – was runner up.

Open to all chefs working across the diverse catering and hospitality business the CH&CO Chef of the Year competition spotlights culinary excellence and gives chefs the opportunity to develop professionally and personally as they experiment, push boundaries and share learning and ideas with their peers.

Entrants were challenged to develop an innovative three-course menu (starter, main and dessert) that supports the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s (SRA) One Planet Plate agenda – a global campaign to address inherent problems in our food system.  As well as the flavours, textures, colours and aesthetics of their dishes, competitors had to consider the SRA themes of Celebrate Local, Waste No Food, More Veg, Source Seafood Sustainably and Low Carbon Footprint.

Following the initial paper judging round, eight chefs stood out to secure a place in the finals at University College Birmingham, where they cooked their dishes in a bid to impress the expert judges. The finalists represented the diverse CH&CO estate, including Company of Cooks, CH&CO Education, Gather & Gather, Gather & Gather Ireland and Venues by CH&CO.

The esteemed judging panel featured John Williams MBE, Executive Chef of The Ritz Hotel; Ollie Dabbous, Chef/Owner of Michelin-starred HIDE Restaurant and member of the CH&CO Gathered Table; Adam Bateman, Executive Chef at The Grand Hotel Birmingham; Ravneet Gill, Pastry Chef, Author and member of the CH&CO Gathered Table; Bradley Carter, Chef/Proprietor of Michelin-starred Carters of Mosely; and Ana Paula Oliver, Executive Pastry Chef for Company of Cooks.
Jeremy Ford, Food Director, CH&CO, said: “How fantastic to bring back our Chef of the Year competition after the pandemic put a stop to it for the past two years. Huge congratulations go to the winner, Ricky Matonti. He was an exceptional competitor and his rabbit main course a highlight of the competition.

I’m incredibly proud of all the finalists who produced amazing food. Everyone stepped up to the challenge and they are all testament to the culinary excellence and talent within our business. I was also impressed by their approach to sustainability. As a holder of the SRA’s three-star Food Made Good rating, it’s a fundamental part of our culture, as the chefs demonstrated perfectly.

“It was a privilege to welcome such an esteemed judging panel to oversee the final and I thank them all for their time and expertise. Having the opportunity to cook in front of and take critique and advice from some of the industry’s finest, most respected chefs is an incredible opportunity for our chefs and important to their continued development

CEO of the Year Award for Julie Ennis #

Julie Ennis, CEO Corporate Services, Sodexo UK and Ireland, has won the CEO of the Year Award at the Image PwC Businesswoman of the Year Awards for 2022.

The Image Awards were established 14 years ago to honour and celebrate Ireland’s foremost female innovators and changemakers. Over 530 applications were received this year for the ten award categories, from social entrepreneurs to sustainability champions, young businesswomen and start-ups to CEOs and entrepreneurs. 

Julie Ennis and members of the Sodexo Ireland management team joined over 700 people at the prestigious awards ceremony in the Clayton Hotel in Dublin on Wed 20th April 2022, hosted by Melanie Morris, contributing editor at Image Media and award-winning RTE news journalist and broadcaster Bryan Dobson.  

Julie Ennis received the CEO of the Year Award for her role in leading Sodexo’s UK and Ireland corporate services business through a fast, dynamic transformation which was accelerated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Julie oversaw the repositioning of the business to offer an enhanced range of services to meet the demands of its clients and their changing workplaces, along with an increased focus on sustainability goals. 

Commenting on her win, Julie Ennis said  “It’s an honour and privilege to accept the CEO of the Year award on behalf of my team because for me, it is recognition for the 10,000 people that I lead, who work tirelessly in the everyday but vital services that fuel the wellbeing and productivity of our clients, their employees and the communities we serve. 

“If there is one positive to come out of the pandemic, certainly for our industry, I believe it was the spotlight that was shone on those who are the real heroes for me. Probably for the first time ever, the services of our frontline teams based in client workplaces, caterers, cleaners and on-site maintenance, were on the boardroom agenda of every single organisation. Because they formed the critical infrastructure that kept many lights on, kept many employees safe in work, kept critical manufacturing and other workplace services open, for which I’m extremely proud