British Food Fortnight celebrates the best of British cuisine across the public sector in schools, hospitals, care homes and universities. The campaign also encourages people to seek out British food and drink when they are shopping or eating out.
The British brunch event was attended by key members of the public sector including NACC chair Sue Cawthray, Public Sector Catering Alliance chair Matthew White, chair of the Hospital Food Review Phil Shelley, managing director of Public Sector Catering Andrew Archer and vice chair elect of LACA Michael Hales.
Attendees were split into two groups, with one group finding out more information about Sysco’s seasonal fresh produce and their bakery range which is celebrating Sourdough September.
The second group visited the Brakes Innovation Kitchen where chef Ben Bartlett, who is an ambassador for Love British Food, showcased a brunch omelette recipe using North Atlantic cod.
Attendees watched Ben create the dish in front of them before trying the finished product. The groups then swapped locations so they could experience both sessions. The omelette was based on the Savoy Hotel recipe named after the writer Arnold Bennett in the 1920s. It was readapted using all British ingredients.
Chartwells hosted a Q&A session with current School Chef of the Year winner Raheem Morgan who won the competition at the fourth attempt. He described being “blown away” by winning the school chef competition after being runner-up on a number of occasions.
Raheem said that before the SCOTY final he cooked his winning dish for the children and headteacher at his school in London. Chartwells highlighted the importance of feeding children more oily fish in their school meals due to the benefits of omega 3 and 6.
Attendees had the opportunity to taste Raheem’s crispy fishcake with carrot and black kale kinpira, miso pea puree and wasabi mayonnaise. This was a British version of his SCOTY winning main course.
Other British food on the menu for attendees included devilled mushrooms & brioche; an English breakfast bowl that included a cumberland sausage, smoked treacle bacon, thyme roasted tomatoes, roasted portabella mushroom as well as a bubble and squeak cake; pear & blackberry bircher; spinach, pineapple & mint smoothie and beetroot, banana & apple smoothie.
When speaking to attendees Shelley said: “I firmly believe that chefs are the ones that need to change food in the public sector. When your tasting that food, how many times do we hear that this public sector food is as good as any food out there.”
He praised the NHS Chef of the Year competition for giving a platform to chefs like Nedko Rusev who reached the final in 2022. Nedko created the smoothies for attendees as well as carving a watermelon into a Love British Food theme.
Co-chair of the Love British Food education working group Linda Creegan said it aimed to bring together people, chefs and suppliers to share and inspire each other. She highlighted that Love British Food had created a free virtual town for people to find out more information about British Food Fortnight by accessing case studies across the public sector.
Ian Robertson, chair of the Love British Food hospital working group, noted it had been expanded recently to include the care sector. He spoke about NHS catering staff having the opportunity to visit farms up and down the country in Dorset, Shrewsbury and Oxfordshire.
Peter Statham, head of sustainability and Government relations at Brakes, added: “The planet pillar is about how we look at our impact on the environment, our operational impact, cutting carbon and transforming our fleet to zero emissions and halving food waste.” He noted that around 85% of their carbon footprint as a business comes from food so he suggested that “without focus there we wouldn’t really have an impact.”
Cathy Amos, head of customer marketing at Brakes, thanked attendees for coming and told them that no food at the event would go to waste as they had partnered with a food waste organisation.