London’s Congress Centre is currently the only known conference and events venue in the capital to embrace the principles of leading chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in their campaigns to put an end to needless food waste and promote ‘wonky veg’.
The environmental and financial impact of food waste came to the fore on the TV series, Hugh’s War on Waste, which blamed supermarkets for much of the food wasted in this country, while the concept of selling wonky vegetables was championed by Jamie Oliver and farmer, Jimmy Doherty, in their programme Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast on Channel 4.
Hi-tech Congress Centre, located near Oxford Street, recently reached an agreement with its existing vegetable supplier, Kent-based Watts Farms Catering Ltd, who will now supply the venue with seasonal ‘wonky veg’ on an ongoing basis as part of Congress Centre’s regular order. Watts Farms already supplies a number of office caterers and restaurants in central London and also supplies wonky veg to Asda, one of the supermarkets that has started selling vegetable selection boxes. Watts Farms recently appeared on The One Show discussing the issue of food waste in farming and, according to company director Ed Gray, “As far as I’m aware Congress Centre is the first large conference and events venue in central London to really get behind wonky veg.”
According to Ed, “Approximately one third of the produce farmers currently grow ends up as food waste. One of the main reasons for this is due to products not meeting the exacting specifications set by large supermarket chains and being the wrong shape or size. The “wonky veg” we sell is still top quality premium produce, it just happens to be slightly bigger or smaller than the products you are familiar with seeing in the supermarket, or it may be slightly crooked, but the taste and quality remain the same.”
A keen supporter of the London Living Wage, Congress Centre is also proud to support any initiative to reduce food waste. According to the venue’s in-house chef, Damon Shorland, “Not only does purchasing wonky veg reduce needless waste, but with food costs ever increasing, it helps to keep Congress Centre’s budget on an even keel, which means that we can continue to offer some of the most competitive day delegate rates in central London without cutting any corners when it comes to the quality of our offering.”