Industry leaders went back to the floor to support charity Only a Pavement Way (OAPA) yesterday, preparing and serving lunch to 255 guests at the Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden, London.
The Cook & Dine event raised £20,000 and saw Greene King CEO Nick MacKenzie, Carluccio’s CEO Mark Jones, Coaching Inn group CEO Kevin Charity, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls and The Caterer's editor Chris Gamm join others to serve the meal.
Leading the front of house team were Janene Pretorius and Johanna Wimmer of the Ivy Collection while Tom Kerridge’s team took charge in the kitchen, led by Chris Mackett, development chef at the two-Michelin-starred Hand of Flowers in Bray.
Kerridge said: "My team and I are absolutely delighted to be involved with Only A Pavement Away, and this unique event. It’s a great charity that’s giving vulnerable people an opportunity to find stability and build a career in an industry that I love and am passionate about. Hospitality has given me so much and I’m really happy to be able to help this brilliant initiative.”
OAPA assists vulnerable people who have experienced challenging circumstances such as being homeless, spending time in prison, or readjusting to life outside the forces, helping them find employment in the hospitality industry.
Charity founder Greg Mangham added: “This event is all about raising awareness and money for Only A Pavement Away so that we can help more people to get back on their feet through a career in our thriving industry.
“The idea behind today was to showcase the fact that no matter your background, you can be part of a great team. And no matter who you are, in this industry we work together, we cook together, and we dine together.”
By working with charities including Crisis and Shelter OAPA has so far placed 65 candidates with 44 employers.
Mangham added: “It’s absurd that so many people don’t have a roof over their heads or that ex-offenders often leave prison with just a few pounds in their pockets and nowhere to go. Often, people just need a helping hand and a chance.”