An event which marked the 80th birthday of the Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) raised more than £16,000 for Wiggly Worm, a charity that improves the health, well-being and self-esteem among the vulnerable and disadvantaged.
The ACE annual wine dinner, which this year coincided with the association’s landmark birthday, took place at the Langham London on Friday and was catered for by Michel Roux Jr, who took over the running of the entire food and beverage operation last May as part of a new, five-year agreement between the hotel and Chez Roux Ltd.
The black tie event was attended by Adam Handling of the Frog, who was recently appointed ACE chef patron, past chair of ACE Marc Verstringhe, ACE Robyn Award winner Leanne Findlay from Sodexo, and Abby Guilding, chair of Wiggly Worm.
Roux worked closely with the charity when he fronted the Channel 4 show Kitchen Impossible last in 2015, which saw him train up eight out-of-work people with disabilities in four weeks.
Speaking at the event, Roux said: “I’ve had some memorable times with Wiggly Worm, helping people with a range of disabilities and mental health issues to secure jobs in the hospitality industry. Together, we can really make a difference to the lives of these young people and put some more of them through this fantastic programme.”
ACE vice-chair Gaye Bullard of Sodexo also took the opportunity to pay a moving tribute to pioneering chef and educator Victor Ceserani, who sadly died last week at the age of 97.
“I remember as a catering student creating dishes such as sole meuniere, eggs Florentine and crepes suzette. Victor was a source of inspiration not just to me in the 80s but to many throughout his life. He will be missed.”
Sodexo pledged £5,000 to the Wiggly Worm fund, and newly appointed ACE patron Handling offered to match its donation. A further £6,000 was raised by guests at the event.
Wiggly Worm’s expertise is in the area of using food in practical ways to deliver physical and mental health benefits. The charity’s courses and events motivate people to make choices about who they are, what they can be and who they can trust. It instills in people a reminder of their true worth in society.
ACE was established in 1939 as the Industrial Catering Association and aims to get staff at all levels within the catering industry networking and having fun together. Membership is open to all ages and experience and includes a cross section of managers, chefs, consultants, students and suppliers from the hospitality and foodservice sector.
The next ACE event is a quiz night on Wednesday, 5 April at Lloyds London.
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