South West food pros call for your help!

by Jess Carter

13 February 2018

A group of celebrated figures from the food and drink industry are facing a challenge of epic proportions...

Most of us can only imagine how challenging a chef’s life is, day-to-day, working under constant pressure in the unrelenting heat of a professional kitchen. Compared to the challenge that a group of local restaurant and hospitality pros have agreed to undertake though, it sounds like a walk in the park, to be honest.

You see, in order to raise vital funds for Action Against Hunger, eight brave souls from the South West, who you’d usually find in kitchens, running front-of-house outfits and organising food festivals, will be trekking through Nepal for 10 days, taking on six to seven hour hikes each day and reaching altitudes of 4,400 meters. The aim is to not only promote the work Action Against Hunger does to combat life-threatening malnutrition, but raise an impressive total of £40,000 for the charity. Pretty ambitious, no?

Making up this zealous group is the Michelin-starred Peter Sanchez-Iglesias of Casamia and Josh Eggleton of The Pony & Trap, as well as Abergavenny Food Festival's Aine Morris, Lido's Freddy Bird, Jamie Randall of Adelina Yard, Kieran Waite of Bravas, Pasta Loco's Dominic Borel and, from Bournemouth, James Fowler from The Larder House.

Setting off at the end of April, these guys have begun a serious 16-week training programme to help prepare them for the task ahead. However, there are still some parts of the challenge that have got these guys pretty nervous...

“I’m most concerned about the altitude,” Dominic tells us. “Apparently there's not too much you can do to conquer it, so I would hate that to get in the way of this challenge!”

Despite the potential nausea, breathing difficulties, headaches and lack of energy though (er, sorry Dom, are we not helping very much?) he’s determined to ace this feat, as he feels a particular responsibility to support the work of this specific charity.

“I think we [the food community] particularly have to be involved. For people who make a career out of supplying food to those who can afford it, we also need to continue this tradition to those who can't.

“Hospitality is about looking after people. All people. We're in a position to. We have the resources. I think we succeed as a business because we care, so the care cannot stop there.”

Keiran agrees: “Working in hospitality and having a love of good food means that I want to indulge myself and our guests in great food, daily. I think that in the UK we can take for granted where our produce is coming from; the people that Action Against Hunger are trying to help want to live sustainably off their land, to support themselves and their families – and that resonates.”

And it’s not just about feeling a connection to the cause; there are plenty of other things that make these guys a great fit for the challenge, reckons Peter: “At the restaurant we work as a team, we pull together, we’re motivated, driven, and a little be competitive – I reckon we’ll need all these skills when doing the trek!”

We think he might be right, there...

Of course, having relatively high profile jobs also means that hopefully these food pros will be able to drum up some real momentum behind the campaign.

“The hospitality industry and restaurant community are close-knit, and there is a great amount of voices that are listened to through social media – we can reach many people collectively,” says Freddy. “Also in our work we bring people together through food – which is a powerful way of championing causes and issues like the ones Action Against Hunger raise.”

Speaking of bringing people together through food, many of these guys have plans for events and treats to help boost donations and get them closer to that end target. Peter and Josh are planning a special collaboration (we know – exciting right?); Adelina Yard has been donating money from sales of a dish on its menu too; and Kieran is organising a pop-up with his team – keep an eye out for tickets soon.

Kieran is also keen to hear from those who might have gear going spare for a couple of weeks: “You can lend me kit and I’ll donate the money I would be spending on it, and return your stuff clean and ironed!"

If these guys are to reach their £40,000 target, they’re going to need some proper support behind them. Want to get involved? You can donate at many of their restaurants or online here, spread the word on social media, and, of course, snap up a ticket for the top events they have planned. Go on, do a good deed by having a great feed.