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Raymond Blanc honours Hugh

Raymond Blanc, the President of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), has presented Hugh with the Sustainability Hero award at a gala lunch event in London.

Raymond said that the River Cottage founder’s passion and knowledge conveyed in his 14 books, 30 television series and programmes and unceasing campaigning for better food, had inspired a generation of British diners and chefs to make more responsible choices.

“Hugh stands out as the person who shows the greatest connection to seasonality, sustainability and traceability overall, and how vital these issues are for all of us. He is also so passionate about important issues relating to the environment and food production – issues like fishery management and animal welfare,” said the Chef Patron of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

Raymond highlighted some of Hugh’s hard-hitting campaigns, like Chicken Out!, which inspired consumers to buy 50% more free range chicken in the months following the Channel 4 TV series. Similarly, Hugh’s Fish Fight prompted praise for motivating almost 900,000 people to challenge the European Union to change its regulations regarding fish discards and start eating less popular fish like mackerel.

More recently Hugh shifted his attention to our love affair with meat, strongly urging readers of his 2011 book Veg to eat less of it. He wrote in the introduction: “We need to eat more vegetables and less flesh, because vegetables are the food that do us the most good, and our planet the least harm.”

Receiving the award, Hugh said: “‘Raymond was one of the first people to raise the issues of sustainability and local supply in the restaurant trade, and it's a very great honour to be nominated by him for this award.”

Hugh added that while he had harnessed the power of the media to change behaviour, Raymond and the SRA were inspiring a new way of thinking in the hospitality industry that had the potential to have a truly significant impact.

“As someone once said, “it isn’t easy being green”. I’d go further than that - it’s impossible to be sustainable, both in business and in person, all the time. But if we can remain engaged, committed and creative, always analysing what we do and trying to find ways to do it better, then we'll not only make progress, but we're in a position to question others too - whether that's big business, the government or the rest of the restaurant sector - and to motivate them towards change.

“This is something the SRA does so well - they don't just talk, they act. Their dynamism is exactly what we need in our industry, where the challenges may be great but the potential is so exciting.”

River Cottage HQ was also recognised for the fourth year running, by winning the Food Sourcing award, jointly honoured with ODE-dining.