This month saw the West Wing restaurant at Ickworth, Suffolk recognised for its sustainable practice by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). The SRA examined elements across produce sourcing, social initiatives and the environment, and consequently accredited The West Wing at Ickworth as a two star Sustainability Champion.

The SRA sustainbility star rating recognises restaurants and venues as Sustainability Champions with good restaurants rated as one star, excellent restaurants as two stars and exceptional restaurants as three stars.

The West Wing at Ickworth is a National Trust property where Sodexo Prestige provides all catering and hospitality services. As well as a seven day a week visitor restaurant the venue is a popular choice for weddings, conferences, marquee events, team-building days and other social occasions such as dinner dances.

SRA judges were impressed across the three judging criterias with particular commendation for the social impact of the catering operation. The SRA report stated that there are ‘excellent training opportunities’ for staff and praised the free healthy meal that is offered to staff for each shift. Amongst additional aspects the SRA noted the strong engagement with customers over the provenance of ingredients; the ability to cater for customers’ dietary requirements; and the work with King Edward VI school to create an area in the restaurant where students can display their artwork.

The SRA’s evaluation of The West Wing at Ickworth in the ‘sourcing’ category showed a dedicated approach to using fruit, vegetables and foraged ingredients grown on the estate combined with a UK focus in sourcing meat, milk, eggs and cheese. Additionally, there were a number of accredited products on the menu including Fairtrade sugar, chocolate and cocoa as well as Marine Stewardship Council certified fish.

In the final category, which covered the venue’s approach to the environment, The West Wing at Ickworth was commended for a number initiatives. Particular features included the composting of raw food and coffee grounds for use in the estate gardens; energy and water efficiency measures in place; and offering ‘home packs’ to customers made from recycled paper bags. There was also a positive response in the report to the environmentally friendly products used on site such as the sustainably sourced furniture, FSC-certified or recycled paper and non harmful cleaning products.

General manager at The West Wing at Ickworth, Sean Loftus said: “We are extremely proud to be the first restaurant in Suffolk to have gained the SRA accreditation. Our team at the West Wing have worked tirelessly to source local produce, improve ways how we can reduce our environmental impact as well as ensuring that we are looking after our staff and customers; the two star Sustainability Champion award is recognition of that.

There is always room for improvement though and over the next twelve months we will look to certain areas, particularly our energy consumption. We hope more restaurants follow our lead in Suffolk and support the SRA in their efforts to improve the image of catering as we know our customers approve of the steps we have taken."

Mark Linehan, managing director of the SRA, said: “The West Wing at Ickworth has demonstrated a genuine commitment to operating in a very sustainable way. This is not only good for society and the environment, but also for business as 70% of consumers say they would prefer to eat a sustainable restaurant. We hope that other Suffolk restaurant will follow West Wing’s impressive lead.”

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