Winners of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) Awards 2015 were announced at Oval Space. I am delighted for the second year to be awarded most sustainable small restaurant group.
With so many awards often marketed towards raising money or the sponsors’ ego it is always a delight to attend an afternoon dedicated to the values and virtues surrounding the real deal – ethics and sustainability in business. The great and good, in no particular order, descended on Bethnal Green this year as the awards made their annual procession around the capital paying homage to those leading the now almost well-trodden path to sustainability.
The SRA is a modern and trusted business hub managing members new and old, a cross breed of hospitality purveyors moving at pace as numbers are growing fast – up from 2000 a year ago to 4000+ today. This broad church approach pulls in the unlikely as well as the sexy; supporting a disciplined, audit-based review that leaves the sandal-wearing and beard-stroking to the fringes.
Our annual audit demanded a raise in standards, pushing our company-wide score from 79% last year to 86% this year, with our three stars remaining intact. SRA President, Raymond Blanc OBE, named Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as his Food Hero of 2015, noting the tremendous effect of Hugh’s hard hitting campaigns such as ‘Fish Fight’, which has motivated almost 900,000 people to challenge the European Union to change its regulations regarding fish discards, among other noteworthy successes.
The afternoon ended with much banter, mostly between the home nations, where there is still much competition, especially with the Scots making heavy work of the journey down. Sustainability lies at every doorstep regardless of its commercial appetite and the need to add clarity and vision within an increasingly rowdy and often confusing environment is paramount.
This process is made all the easier with the democratisation of sustainable dining illustrated no better than the two ultimate winners being Daylesford from the Cotswolds and The Captain’s Galley, Britain’s most northerly mainland restaurant, both offering sustainable dining whatever your budget.