Aston Villa’s training restaurant for young catering industry talent has kicked off the new season in style by winning an award for its use of local food.
Villa Midlands Food, or VMF, has been awarded a Green Apple Environment Award to recognise the work it puts into sourcing fresh produce in the inner city. It has also won praise for supporting food suppliers throughout the West Midlands.
The restaurant is committed to a number of local sustainability projects including a community allotment which lies just one-and-a-half miles from the Holte End. Up to 80 young people from the St George’s Community Hub in Nechells, which takes in members from Aston and Nechells, help to grow produce for use on VMF’s modern British menu.
In the first season of the allotment, 750kg of potatoes were harvested for the restaurant and during the 2012-13 season VMF will be using a full range of vegetables, salad items and herbs from the 92 raised gardens and greenhouses at the site.
The allotment also has four bee hives that are used to produce honey for the restaurant’s desserts.
The chefs at VMF and Aston Villa Football Club have set themselves a target of sourcing 80 per cent of their produce from the West Midlands, including farms in Bloxwich, Wythall, Tamworth and Earlswood, near Solihull. They also work with a large number of other local businesses and producers.
VMF, which trains unemployed young people to become chefs and front-of-house staff, was one of more than 500 organisations nominated for an award by The Green Organisation. Representatives from the restaurant will attend a presentation ceremony at the Houses of Parliament in November.
The Green Organisation is an independent, not-for-profit group that promotes environmental best practice. The Green Apple Awards were launched in 1994 and recognise environmental endeavour among companies, councils, communities and countries.
The award is the latest in a line of accolades bestowed on VMF including the purchasing category prize at the Green Restaurant Awards 2012 and a gold award in the green award category at the Football Hospitality Awards in 2012.
VMF was launched in October 2010 with the backing of club owner Randy Lerner, allowing him to mix his love of food with his passion to ensure Villa plays a positive role in the community. The restaurant is open on Friday and Saturday evenings and from noon to 3pm on Sundays, except on match days.