SRA names Jamie Oliver its Raymond Blanc Sustainability Hero for 2016

Sustainable Restaurant Association honours Jamie Oliver for his “unrelenting passion and commitment” to use food as a force for good, reports Michael Jones

Chef, TV presenter and sugar tax campaigner Jamie Oliver has been named Raymond Blanc’s Sustainability Hero by the UK’s Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). Oliver will receive the award at the SRA Food Made Good Awards 2016 today, Tuesday 22 March.

The president of SRA, Raymond Blanc OBE, will present Oliver with the honour at the awards, held at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Hall in London, UK, in recognition of Oliver’s “unrelenting passion and commitment” to use food as “a force for good and improve the nation’s health.”

Blanc said Oliver’s “tireless work and ability to communicate with everyone, from a child in the school dinner queue to the Prime Minister in Downing Street, combine to make a winning recipe for positive change to how we eat and relate to food.” In the last ten years Oliver has, says Blanc, “poured his energies into finding solutions to a huge range of issues including; childhood obesity, depleting fish stocks, the welfare of chickens and our loss of basic cooking skills.

“Since he first burst onto our TV screens as the Naked Chef, Jamie’s enthusiasm has been utterly infectious and compelling. So whether he is challenging school caterers head-on, here or in the USA, or throwing himself into campaigns with an unrelenting passion and commitment to persuade the nation to buy higher welfare chicken, Jamie carries people with him, leading them to a better place,” says Blanc.

The award, whose previous recipients include chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Sheila Dillon, presenter of BBC Radio’s Food Programme, is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to helping create a better food industry.

Blanc pinpointed Jamie’s ongoing campaign to tackle childhood obesity as deserving of social recognition. “Childhood obesity is one of the most important issues facing this country. Jamie has stood up to be counted, leading from the front, highlighting the problem and more importantly offering solutions, showing others acting positively can make a change. He has also done so much to uplift the image of the hospitality industry.”

More than 150,000 people in the UK signed Oliver’s petition asking the British Government to introduce a new tax on sugary drinks. A voluntary levy was introduced to Oliver’s own Jamie Italian restaurants as well as other participating eateries and has raised more than £50,000 for health and educational causes since being introduced in 2015. On 16 March the UK Chancellor George Osborne announced he would introduce a tax on soft drinks from 2018.

In advance of receiving the award, Oliver released a statement saying “any award is a great honour and this one is extra special because it bears the name of one of my heroes.  Raymond is an inspiration and I’m delighted to be able to call him a friend.”

The Raymond Blanc Sustainability Hero Award is one of 20 awards to be presented at the Food Made Good Awards, sponsored by Nestlé Professional, which recognise restaurants, cafés, pubs, bars, contract caterers, universities and hotels, who demonstrate that all food can be made delicious, ethical and sustainable.

Michael Jones

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