FOOTPRINT AWARDS 2012: The inaugural Footprint Awards in 2011 were proof of concept; to minimise the impact of an awards scheme and remain true to the mantra of being the antithesis of the typical industry awards. Our objective was to create an event of exceptional standard, showing that sustainability can be sumptuous and doesnt have to be consumptuous (we made the word consumptuous up - you know what we mean).
The Awards Judging:
In 2010 we invested in developing the software that reformed the awards judging processes. To courier reams of paper and judges around the UK, we considered to be unsustainable and unnecessary. The system stood the test last year and with a few tweaks, the Footprint Awards judging system sets a great example of how technology aids sustainability.
We worked closely with our friends at ItsTheAgency to find a venue that could accommodate the numbers required, whilst fulfilling our objective of being the antithesis of other industry awards and most importantly meeting our expectations of a venue displaying best practice in responsible business.
8 Northumberland allows Footprint Awards to grow so we wont have to turn people away like we did last year. Its steeped in history and lots of what you see is reclaimed from the original MOD building. It captured the essence of Footprint Awards Back to the Future theme. As a venue and catering company 8 Northumberland operates with the environment and sustainability very much in mind. A sense of belief that best environmental practices and good business sense go hand in hand to benefit everyone, runs through the business. Recycling is taken very seriously and the best example of this is the refurbishment of the building. A very high percentage of the building is recycled and not rebuilt, reducing the carbon footprint by hundreds of thousands of tons. Up to 10,000 bottles are recycled each week. Even onsite daily recycling is high on the agenda with a program to educate employees in waste management. This approach has resulted in the business recycling all its paper, card and glass (nothing new there but if you look at the overall picture it starts to add up). 8 Northumberland only use energy saving light bulbs throughout the venue but have also taken this further in the Old Billiard Room and Annex by only having LED lighting which reduces our energy usage by a staggering 80%. As Charles Boyd says, it delights him that businesses are being forced to think about the wider picture and be more responsible. Our verdict is that he has topped that by reclaiming a beautiful building and most within it.
Backdrop, Stage and The Tree:
Last year we had our stage made of corporate waste; an old marquee and scaffolding poles. We concluded it was rubbish. This year we have had to bite the bullet but the stage set has been built reusing what we were able to and using as much recyclable material as possible.
You will have noticed the Tree. It was built by the pupils of Park Primary School in the Olympic Borough of Newham and is made of nearly 1000 Huhtamaki cups. Each pupil has made a leaf and if you look very closely you will recognise the Olympic values of Respect, Excellence and Friendship. The reason for commissioning the tree is to highlight the social pillar of sustainability. With the London 2012 Olympics almost upon us, the Olympic context was both relevant and timely. We might even have some future star chefs on our hands with the children of Park Primary having spent some time in the kitchen on the afternoon of the awards. The tree will be used during the course of this year to raise money to install recycling bins in every classroom of Park Primary; a campaign that we want to work on nationally to highlight the lack of infrastructure provided by councils throughout the UK. In addition, we want to raise £2000 to install a garden and outdoor learning space at the school where the children can grow their own veg, so donations welcome. To find out more about this do get in touch.
We would like to thank the lovely Julia Roebuck, who you may remember from her upcycled fashion at the Footprint Awards last year, for all of her creative direction on this.
As pioneered at last years awards, why use flowers that will perish within 24 hours of the event when we can use produce that we can all take home at the end of the evening to nurture and hopefully remind us of a fantastic night? By the way, the flowers on the table were edible. Diners got stuck in and could take the cabbage and herbs with them at the end of the night. Herbs came in handy especially if you felt David had under-seasoned the NIB salad....!
The linen was provided by Johnsons Stalbridge Linen. Its linen sites are able to recycle 50-80 per cent of their waste water so you know it will be cleaned in a highly sustainable manner once you managed to drop the veal tortellini on it (Yes, Mark Hayward of Dingley Dell, we know you did! Have you managed to find your [actually your mates] Dinner Jacket yet?).
Where do we start...We designed this menu with Back to the Future cuisine eating in mind. We want the dining experience at Footprint Awards to be synonymous with the very best of any industry awards. Following David Cavaliers extraordinarily high standards set last year, the Executive Chef at 8 Northumberland, David Collison, had much to compete with. I am sure you will agree that he has stepped up to the plate (forgive the pun).
Canapés; you will have noticed we only served vegetables and fish. As a society we eat too much meat and we thought it would be interesting to cut it from just one element of tonights dinner. When we think of fish, we think of over-fishing and decreasing fish stocks. However, we need to graduate from this and should eat more fish as long as its caught/sourced responsibly and sustainably. There is a huge range of hidden treasures of the sea that need rediscovering by restaurant goers. By diversifying the species we put on our menus we can reduce the pressure on existing stocks. Its our mission to highlight the under utilised fish and seafood species to British Menus with an emphasis on perpetual diversification. To achieve this, as an industry we will have to pull together and understand the supply chain. Tonights canapés show how these sustainable heroes should feature on our menus alongside traditional choices. M&J Seafood very kindly donated the fish and their development chef to showcase what we can do with fish sustainably. Its good for our health and if you listened to Prof John Stein at Footprint Forum, its good for society! True......
Waste has been one of the biggest issues in the sustainability arena and great work has been done, notably by our friends at Unilever Food Solutions with their United Against Waste campaign. We wanted to display that the negative connotations of food waste are not what they are perceived to be. So please do enjoy the NIB salad. We thought of calling it BIN salad but thought it might put you off. Dont worry, its not literally from a bin but it was sourced this morning and was destined for landfill within the next 12 hours.
Rose Veal was the base for the main course. Veal, as we know, is the meat from a dairy calf. Essentially it is a bi-product of the dairy industry, as a cow has to calf to produce milk. However, of the half-a-million bull calves born each year, only 5000 are reared for veal and some are sent to Europe to be reared in systems illegal in the UK since 1990. The vast majority, though, are shot and disposed of; an extraordinary waste of a valuable resource and a desperately sad aspect of being a dairy farmer.
But things are changing. The Rose Veal eaten at this year's awards was reared by David Tory, from Brookfield Farm in Dorset, and we were delighted that David is able to join us at the dinner. It is called Rose Veal due to its pinky colour and to differentiate it from the white veal product found in Europe.
In direct contrast to the perhaps embedded negative perceptions of veal production, Davids calves are carefully reared on straw bedding in groups, with completely unrestricted access to food, barley straw and water. They are kept to accredited high welfare standards and slaughtered at 7-8 months, as with pigs and lambs. David is providing a long term and sustainable solution to this shocking waste and adoption of Rose Veal by the foodservice industry will go some way to building this potential market for dairy farmers.
Finally, your pudding represented a trip down memory lane and the very best of Back to the Future...whens the last time you had a milkshake?!
Footprint is all about connecting the supply chain and along with David Tory, we had Andrew Frewer who grew the herbs and edible flowers.
We chose to work with New Generation Wines again this year. The businesss philosophy of the very best from old and new world wines was arguably more relevant this year than it was last year.
Contextually we chose two wines that represented both the back and the future of the evenings theme. The El Descanco, accompanied the starter. We were sold by the fact that El Descanco still use horse drawn vehicles on their estate but we are also reliably informed that its cracking hooch! Similarly the South African Reyneke is a fine example of an organic production wine. Organic production methods are as ancient as wine itself but these in combination with modern production methods produces a very fine example of wine, perfectly matched to the veal.
We deliberately did not want to serve bottled water this year. Not because we have anything against bottled water quite the opposite. But we thought we would have a Vivreau machine installed at 8 Northumberland and see how it goes. We also had the Footprint Awards logo printed with the objective of every other person taking one home to remember what an amazing evening Footprint Awards was. Better still, use them to water your Footprint Awards herbs!
We are pleased to have had Andy Muscat of New Generation Wines with us again on the night. At last years Footprint Awards he promised to aid keeping our carbon footprint down by cycling to the event. He was promptly knocked off his bike and just about survived. If you saw a dishevelled chap in a shredded dinner jacket at last years Footprint Awards, it was Muscat. He made it in one piece on the night! An avid Twit please tweet your thoughts on his wines @newgenwines
The Awards Plate:
We were so pleased to see the Footprint Award in pride of place at so many receptions and board rooms this year. Hopefully some of you will have added to the collection this year. The plates themselves were kindly supplied by Dudson. The reason we turned to Dudson is that the Dudson Evolution range has the lowest carbon footprint of any ceramic hospitality tableware manufactured anywhere in the world. Any tableware manufacturer leading the way on processes showing such steep reduction in carbon output is good enough to supply our awards!
The After Dinner Drinks:
Footprint Awards is designed very much with the attendance of the senior executives of the foodservice industry in mind. You probably would have noticed that the awards were punctuated throughout the dinner rather than being lumped onto the end. We do this because many of you have early starts and after very good food and excellent wine, not to mention civilised company, you will hopefully not even have had a headache in the morning. However, for those who wanted to continue the fun, the celebrations continued in Boyds Bar. As last year, we worked in collaboration with Fair Vodka and Innocent to serve the Not-So-Innocent-Smoothie. This was on us for as long as it lasts, (specially organised for the catering equipment boys). We are reliably informed it lasted until 4 am.
Thank you (not Gwyneth style):
Our heartfelt thanks go to our Headline Sponsor Nestlé Professional, our Category Sponsors BaxterStorey, Brakes, CH&Co, Dudson, epsys, Huhtamaki, Innocent, Johnsons Stalbridge, M&J Seafoods, New Generation Wines, NotBox and Unilever Food Solutions; also our partners FAIR. and Reynolds, without whom this process would not be possible. Sustainability, if anything, enhances a night out in the West End.
Back to the Future