The judges were looking for three things from the winner of this year’s Sustainability Award: impact, integrity and influence. And all needed to come from an initiative the restaurant had introduced in the last 12 months. So no small ask. Yet South Bank’s OXO Tower Restaurant delivered in spades with no less than three different initiatives.
Executive Chef Jeremy Bloor and his team looked beyond the four walls of the iconic riverside restaurant to tackle some of the biggest environmental issues of the day. They made a conscious decision to work more collaboratively with other Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) members and external partners in order to boost the impact of projects they were already working on.
In June 2018 they partnered with caterer Vacherin and waste management company Bywaters on a Thames beach clean for World Environment Day. Following this success they invited Bywaters to join future cleans and supported these with a big PR push, highlighting the issue of single-use plastic in a tangible, meaningful way. More local businesses, community groups and SRA members have been enlisted over the following month in what is described by the Sustainable Restaurant Association – which judged the award – as a great public-facing approach to tackling packaging.
Acknowledging that the best way to influence diners’ minds is through their taste buds, OXO also used the plate to deliver its customers a strong message to help them use their power of the appetites wisely. Tom Hunt, founder of Poco Tapas Bar, winner of the Food Made Good Sustainable Business of the Year 2018, was brought in to work with head chef Keri Barry to create a menu served throughout the week surrounding Earth Day in April 2019.
Highlighting the impact our food choices make on biodiversity, it featured produce such as ramsons, cod cheeks, lobster shell sauce and caramelised salsify, showing how often wasted and undervalued seasonal produce can be used to create an appealing and ethical menu.
OXO’s third winning initiative saw it work with Roehampton University to create a food waste workshop for its nutrition students. Three initiatives all with impact, integrity and influence tackling three of the big issues affecting our food system – food waste, plastics and biodiversity. Congratulations to OXO Tower Restaurant, worthy winners of The Sustainability Award 2019.
The Sustainability Award is sponsored by John Mower, with thanks to the Sustainable Restaurant Association