Enfield Council has become the first local authority in the United Kingdom to receive a top award for its work in sustainably sourcing, cooking and serving food.
The local authority received a three-star award from the Sustainable Restaurants’ Association (SRA) which showcases innovative and inspirational practice and measures serveries against ten strict criteria ranging from reducing food waste to supporting local farmers and the way ingredients are sourced.
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Cllr Yasemin Brett, said: “I’m delighted that Enfield Council has become the first council to become a member of the SRA and also the first to achieve a three-star rating, just eight months after adopting a fresh approach to food sustainability. We scored particularly high in celebrating local and seasonal produce after bringing on board over 20 new suppliers. Most of these are based in Enfield or within 30 miles of the restaurant.
“We are committed to providing good quality, tasty, sustainable food for members of staff at Enfield Council and the meals on offer demonstrate that. The menus in the restaurant are healthy, environmentally conscious and use produce provided by local suppliers, it is a win for everyone.
”The existing staff at the Civic Centre Restaurant deserve a lot of credit. They were inundated with sudden changes, many of which were alien to them given the environment in which they had been working in and were used to. They have all managed to adapt to the changes and embrace the project and as a result, the Civic Centre Restaurant is a happier workplace with a more vibrant atmosphere.”
In Autumn 2017, the decision was made to improve the food offered at the Civic Centre restaurant by aiming to make it an example of sustainability for Council workers and support the work being done by the Public Health and Environmental Departments to encourage behavioural change.
The Council worked with food sustainability experts Nick and Nadia Stokes of the multi award-winning Enfield company Gourmet Goat, famous for their sustainable street food stall at London’s iconic Borough Market for which they were recently re-awarded three stars from the SRA.
The Civic Centre Restaurant has been transformed in the last eight months. Drinks and snacks are now carefully sourced ensuring they are produced by local manufacturers where possible, are lower in fat, contain no artificial sugars and are better portion controlled. All cakes are now homemade from high quality ingredients and provide a wide range of treats for vegans and people with a gluten or dairy intolerance.
Twenty suppliers based in and around the borough now provide local, higher quality alternatives to the previously mass purchased products. For example, bread comes in freshly baked each morning from the artisan bakery Holtwhites. Sausages and bacon come from Great Garnetts Farm in Essex, the sausages are then hand-made in Enfield’s Peatchey Butchers and delivered up the road to the Civic Centre every couple of days. Organic fruits and vegetables are supplied by community growers Forty Hall Farm where they are harvested the same morning.
Chefs in the Civic Centre receive a weekly text informing of what is ready for harvest and then design their salads and hot dishes around what is available. The result is a staff canteen where workers can enjoy the freshest locally grown asparagus straight from the ground in spring and the most flavoursome tomatoes in summer.
To implement the changes a Head Chef, Stephen Brown, and a Development Chef, Ben Murphy, were appointed.
First to arrive was Ben, an experienced chef and recent masters graduate of Environmental Science, who previously worked at the award winning Brother Hubbard Restaurant in Dublin. Ben created a menu based around seasonality with sustainability at its core. Through food preservation and waste reduction techniques, new and exciting recipe ideas have been introduced.
Ben and his team of mainly ex-school kitchen assistants now make their own kimchi from usually wasted cauliflower leaves and make vegan meringues from chickpea aquafaba. Ben is committed to making healthy and sustainable food and introduced meat free Monday, a drive to reduce meat consumption and promote healthier vegetarian choices.
Stephen Brown has 30 years of experience having previously worked in Hertfordshire’s Michelin restaurant, The Fox and Hound. Stephen has streamlined the Civic Centre Restaurant and enabled the many changes in the food offering to work in a staff canteen.
He has also contributed to many of the new items on the menu including the creation of his own homemade seasonal jams to replace the previously available jams and swapping bought in frozen sausage rolls with delicious homemade alternatives. Stephen was attracted to getting involved with such a unique and forward-thinking project and to able to work in an environment where creativity in sustainability is encouraged rather than inhibited.
Gourmet Goat’s co-founder Nick Stokes said: “It has been a fantastic opportunity to help build a restaurant based on sustainable principles. Enfield has some amazing producers and now the workers in the civic centre get to eat healthy delicious food.”
Stephen Brown, Head Chef, said “To win Three stars from the SRA so early on is an amazing achievement and shows we are on the right track to show Enfield there is a better way to eat and shop. I am looking forward to the future and to showing how we can develop the catering business further within Enfield and beyond.”
Ben Murphy, Development Chef, said “Having wanted to combine my experience with food and the environment, it is a dream for me to be involved in such an exciting project. Being involved in this project from the beginning has been a real honour and makes achieving a top rating from the SRA all the more exciting and rewarding”