Bristol-based fresh fast food chain Friska has been named Best Ethical Restaurant in this year’s Observer Food Monthly Awards. The awards, which were held at London’s Freemasons Hall in Covent Garden and hosted by Sue Perkins and Jay Rayner, also saw The Ledbury named Best Restaurant, The Gloucester M5 Northbound Services pick up Best Newcomer and Nigella Lawson named Best Food Personality.
Now in their 11th year, the Observer Food Monthly Awards reward the best in British food and drink. The awards are a mix of reader votes and a judging panel which this year included Sat Bains, Angela Hartnett, Tom Kerridge, Russell Norman and Nigel Slater.
Founded in 2009 by Griff Holland (then 26) and Ed Brown (then 24), Friska’s ethical approach to food, coffee and a responsible way of doing business has always been core to what the restaurant is all about; values enshrined in their Feel Good Food ethos and strapline. From the suppliers they work with (free range) to their environmental approach (zero waste to landfill), their focus on being the best employer in the industry (3 times staff retention relative to industry average) and a ambition to have a positive social impact above and beyond their food and drink (exemplified in the Deki Partnership), being a responsible business is something that has been a key ingredient to their success.
After picking up the award, Griff said, “This is a great honour and something we are really proud of. In all honesty though we don’t really view what we do as being ethical, rather we see it more as a responsibility everyone should take, be it as a restaurant, as an employer and as a business. We don’t profess to be perfect but we are definitely passionate about doing things properly and making people feel good about what we stand for, namely deliciously fresh and interesting food made with great ingredients from great suppliers and served by the best bunch of people around.”
Ed (via email on holiday) echoed Griff’s view and went on to say that “ Since day one, we’ve always been driven to create something meaningful with a sense of value beyond the financials. What we’ve learnt over the past five years is that these values and principles are also key to why our customers choose to visit us and why great people choose to work at Friska. Having a set of principles people can really believe in helps us attract the best people and ultimately that’s what it’s all about, great people making delicious food and delivering amazing service. When we do that everyone feels good.”
On finding out that Friska had won the award, Kieran Jefferson, who takes the lead on Sustainabilty at Friska, commented that he believed “Friska’s ethos can be seen as part of a broader movement within the food industry, it’s not just about filling people up any more, it’s about doing things properly in every respect. To have been, from the start, proud of where I work, of the people I work with, colleagues and suppliers alike, is a chef’s dream. The Severn Project, Devon Rose…what company to be in! The foods pretty good too. Win.”
This marks the third year in a row that the award has gone to a Bristol restaurant, with the last two previous winners being Poco and The Ethicurean. From a food and drink point of view, Bristol really is cementing itself as one of the UK’s most sustainably-minded cities ahead of it being crowned European’s Green Capital 2015.
The award caps off an extremely successful year for Friska who have retained their 3 star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, made it to the shortlist of the Guardian Sustainable Awards and have just secured significant investment to open new places around the UK, starting with Birmingham in early 2015.