Good News Story: Food Made Good Champion, Andrea Zick, on volunteering while furloughed

The lockdown has left many people within the hospitality industry furloughed and often feeling a lack of purpose. We spoke to Andrea Zick, PA to the GM of OXO Tower Restaurant Brasserie and Bar & former Food Made Good Champion about how she put her skills and experience to great use by helping others during this challenging period.

All photography by Lana de Meillon founder of the Catford Fridge Station

How did the lockdown announcement affect you and your business?

About 98% of our staff at OXO are on furlough, the remaining team looks after the safety, maintenance and set up a food delivery box scheme which also has a link to the NHS as people can donate money towards food boxes for self isolating NHS workers at Kings College. I believe this has raised over £3,000 and we have delivered 130 boxes to date.

I am one of the 98% and for me lockdown and being out of work meant lack of purpose and I find it very hard to sit still especially when this situation means there are many people in the community who have very little support. So the very first things was to look for volunteering opportunities to cover the community wellbeing and my own.

Faced with much food to shift when the doors of the Oxo Tower restaurant closed in March, Andrea went to the major distribution charities to donate food.  Andrea then contacted the Catford Fridge Station –  part of the Hubbub community fridge network –  to offer food.  Andrea also revealed she had experience as a nutritionist and a chef and the charity leapt at the chance to benefit from her skills and time.

What support have you got from other chefs / the hospitality industry?

The Bia Project at the Irish Centre is not supported by other chefs, despite our efforts find a second volunteer chef, there is however a local café, the Café of Good Hope, which has helped to step in as a wholesaler of the products we need and they have been fantastic in doing so. The greatest support has come from community-based organisations such as Lewisham Local and the GCDA network in Lewisham. These past few weeks have opened my eyes how many small community groups are out there and how much happens in your local community it’s pretty amazing.

What are your hopes for your future?

Rather than hoping, my aim is to build a community kitchen at OXO which will help to feed to community and those in need for months to come. I strongly believe the need for healthy food at a low cost/no cost is only going to increase, so while OXO can’t seat as many guests as we are usually doing there is capacity in the kitchen for more food to be produced and I think it’s not only the right thing to do but to foster relationships with charity partners and create volunteer opportunities for our colleagues who are keen to make a difference.

Do you have a message to share with other women in the food industry?

We are incredibly empathetic with our guests. It’s time to extend this empathy to the communities we live in and give fine dining a purpose beyond fine food.

Look out for more good news stories as we cover how women are doing good with food during the lockdown and beyond. Be the first to hear by signing up to our newsletter.

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