Heinz Food Heroes – the new awards programme from Heinz and hospitality networking association, Arena, seeking to recognise and celebrate those within the food industry who have gone above and beyond in their community – has announced its inaugural winners:
Most Heroic Team: Fish & Chips @ Weston Grove
Fish & Chips @ Weston Grove runs a host of initiatives to support their community. This includes sponsoring a homeless football team to provide team skills and reduce isolation, feeding 40 people a week in temporary hostels (during and after lockdown) and complimentary meals for the elderly to encourage interaction and alleviate loneliness. It’s the first chippy to be Makaton-friendly and is also dementia-friendly. Children visit the shop and take part in activities relating to sustainability and the versatility of potatoes, for science and regular cooking lessons give local families the skills to prepare nutritious meals at home. They’re also plastic-free pioneers!
Most Heroic Individual: Tracey Harriott, supervisor at Starbucks at, Amadeus at the NEC
Tracy’s story began five years ago when she noticed lots of food was thrown away at the end of each day at the NEC, due to expiry dates. Having just started volunteering for local charities in her community, Tracy saw this as an opportunity to collect the food at the end of each day and deliver it to the community projects she was volunteering for. Since then, Tracy has built a network of colleagues and local businesses to gather clothes, bedding, toiletries and furniture, in addition to food. Donations are split between a number of beneficiaries which include hostels, the homeless and community sport groups designed to empower children. All efforts coordinated are by Tracey in between her full-time job and being a foster carer.
The judging panel comprised of Leo Kattou, head chef at Simpson’s restaurant and 2019 MasterChef: The Professionals finalist, Candice Brown winner of The Great British Bake Off 2016, Lorraine Wood, Director of Arena and Jojo de Noronha, Kraft Heinz Northern European President. And with over 150 inspiring entries received, deciding on the winners was no easy task.
Jojo de Noronha, Kraft Heinz Northern Europe President, says: “Selecting overall winners for these awards was exceptionally difficult. It’s been the most challenging year most of us have ever faced and we know that there are heroes from all walks of life and from all corners of the country. As an industry, I’m sure we all offer our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has gone above and beyond to contribute to those that need it most.
“Both of our winners stood out for their approach in supporting the community as a whole; many different people benefit from their fantastic work and support.”
Lorraine Wood, Director of Arena, added, “Huge congratulations go to the winners! We’d also like to thank everyone who took part in Heinz Food Heroes. It was both inspiring and humbling to read through all the entries; we were overwhelmed by the kindness and selflessness that both individuals and teams have shown.
And, as we navigate through yet more difficult times ahead, it’s really important to see and hear how we can all pull together and support each other.”
Each winner of Heinz Food Heroes will receive £5000 to continue to make life better. Tracey will be investing the prize into training and equipment for the initiatives she works with in order to benefit the vulnerable whilst Fish & Chips @ Weston Grove will use the money to support their homeless football team in addition to aiding professional development by sending the team on a sea fish course at Billingsgate market.
Tracey Harriott, Most Heroic Individual, said: “I’m in shock! I’d like to thank the team at the NEC for their continued support in both collecting and supplying donations, my colleagues and friends and family. Everyone pitches in to help wherever they can; whether its buying toiletries for the homeless community or lending me fridge space to store surplus sandwiches or my homemade soup, ready for distribution. I may co-ordinate it, but it wouldn’t be possible without all the help people are prepared and happy to give.”
Josette Foster, co-owner of Fish & Chips @ Weston Grove, said on behalf of the Most Heroic Team: “We’re absolutely thrilled to receive this very special award. Fish and Chip shops across the country have been at the heart of the community for 160 years. We understand the important role we play in supporting the wider community and our social responsibility to care for our extended family. This really comes from the heart, not just during this difficult year – it’s a long term commitment to giving something back.”