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FCSI UK & Ireland signs off a successful year at AGM

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Professional and Allied members of FCSI UK & Ireland gathered at the 2019 AGM and Christmas lunch

As is tradition, the UK & Ireland unit of FCSI met for its annual annual general meeting (AGM) followed by a sumptuous Christmas lunch on board the Sunborn Yacht Hotel in London’s Docklands.

Now a year into the role as chair of FCSI UK& Ireland, Matthew Merritt-Harrison FCSI opened the session with an overview of the many events that FCSI had attended and participated in during the year – ranging from the Professional Kitchen Show in January and the CEDA Conference in April to the Commercial Kitchen Show in June and many social events including an evening at Mercato Metropolitano in London.

Mick Jary, specification manager of Meiko UK and the Allied representative on the FCSI Worldwide board, provided an update on the work he has been involved in on worldwide level. Things are looking healthy, he said. “We are all doing very well.”

Merritt-Harrison said that FCSI UK & Ireland is in a good place, paraphrasing Mark Twain. “The reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated,” he said. “But we need to work harder to work with other organisations while remaining an independent and ethical voice.”

He noted that consultants have been involved in many industry-wide initiatives, including the completion of the Guide to Energy Efficiency in Commercial Kitchens for The Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers (CIBSE).

Focus on sustainability

The morning session included a presentation from Nell Armitage, digital project manager of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). She spoke of the “David Attenborough effect”, which has seen the use of single-use plastics in the spotlight after an episode of Blue Planet showed a turtle suffering after a plastic straw got stuck in its nostril.

“The action on single plastics has been heartening,” said Armitage (right), but she added that we need to keep a focus on food. “What we eat and we choose to eat is crucial. Until we fix food, we can’t fix climate change, “she said, adding that on average half a kilo of food waste results from each plate of food served.

The SRA was founded in 2010 with just 50 member restaurants. Today more than 10,000 members, including large chains such as Wagamama, have joined and benefit from programmes such as Food Waste Bad Taste, helping businesses target, measure and act on food waste; and Food Print Programme, which focuses on GHG emission reduction.

Charitable partner

It also fell to the chair to nominate a charity for FCSI UK & Ireland and Merritt-Harrison introduced the charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) as his choice. CAP works with people who finds themselves in a spiral of debt and helps them find a way out. After being involved with the charity himself, delivering food parcels to those living in poverty he has seen first-hand the positive effects of the work the team carries out and just how widespread a problem it is. “Debt doesn’t just apply to one end of society,” he said.

John Thompson, a CAP debt centre manager, joined Merritt-Harrison to explain to the audience how the charity works in helping people who have got themselves into debt – and there are currently 1.5 million people who live in poverty in the UK today. A deserving cause that will surely benefit from its status as an FCSI UK & Ireland charity.

As he signed off a successful year for FCSI UK & Ireland, Merritt-Harrison shared an already busy event programme for 2020, kicking off with a visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London in February.

Tina Nielsen