The Caterer
Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

We were doing it before Jamie

29 November 2006

Further to your Table Talk piece (Caterer, 2 November, page 14) concerning alleged financial dealings between Jamie Oliver and me, what I actually said when you were enquiring about possible links between us was that there was one very tenuous link - my sister-in-law Cassie Hunt (not my wife) was at school with Jamie's sister.

You seemed to imply that as a contract caterer I should be towing the line in terms of holding Jamie in some form of contempt, as if he is somehow responsible for the dismal way many organisations have failed to step up to the challenge of providing appealing, healthy meals in schools.

We are not one of those companies. The kids love our food at every site we run, which has led to significant sales increases across the board without selling a chip, burger, soft drink or a cup of coffee.

Every time we attend a school open evening or parents' evening with a current or prospective client, the parents always enquire whether these are Jamie's menus. It does get boring after a while trying to explain that we were doing our thing before Jamie's programme was aired. But having said that, he has done us a huge favour as we expected slower growth than we have actually experienced.

Some of the big players are revelling in the current stories about healthy eating not working. Many companies and councils have found change very hard, and have tried to do the job in the same way, using the same business model - but with fresh food it will never work. The implementation has been too fast for the big players. How could they be expected to put the same level of care in as us ankle biters? For them the whole change should have been phased in over a longer period.

On behalf of our clients who have benefited from improvements in behaviour and performance at no additional cost, we would like to thank all of the kids and parents who have put their trust in us, especially those who had not previously taken school meals.

Jonathan Bradley
Managing director, Q-tass, Garsington, Oxfordshire

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.

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