The Selsdon Park Country Mansion Hotel and Golf Club was recently the setting for Lush Hand Made Cosmetics 300 delegate, three day conference and the product launch of the new Lush Christmas range. Lush set their ethical, humanitarian and sustainability standards much higher than most international high street retailers and insisted that all the catering should be 100% vegan in the interests of their staff’s health, the health of the planet and the impact on those that live on it.
Having had some bad catering experiences in the past, Hilary Jones, Ethics Director at Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics brought in Award winning vegan chef from Foods for Life Health & Nutrition in Croydon, Tony Bishop-Weston, husband of Croydon nutritionist and author Yvonne Bishop-Weston.
Tony author of a number of vegan cookbooks helped Head chef at the Selsdon Park Hotel Lloyd Hesom find vegan ingredients to produce delicious menus for not just breakfast lunch and dinner but also for mid morning and afternoon snacks.
Tony said “It’s sad that nearly 70 years since The UK Vegan Society was set up on November 1st 1944 that outside of Chinese and Indian restaurants it’s very difficult for vegans to find the same value for money, quality and excitement that meat and fish eaters take for granted. It was a joy to work with a chef who had an open mind and the vision to see that, in the long run, vegan cuisine has the potential to solve not cause logistical catering problems.”
“We also tried to include some of the many fresh fairly traded natural ingredients that Lush use in their products.”
Most of dishes were created in the style of Lush using fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds and use of the Selsdon Park hotel herb garden. The chefs also had a little help from vegan and vegetarian society approved companies eager for UK Lush shop managers to try their products. There were koftas and falafels from Goodlife, Coconut milk from Koko Dairy Free, Vegan smoked and cream Scheese from Bute Island Foods, piquant Swiss cheese from Vegusto, veggie sausages, minced ‘beef’ and ‘chicken’ pieces from Fry’s Foods, free-from chocolate chips from Plamil foods made into a chocolate mousse and flap jacks and vegan ‘bacon’, blue cheese and sandwich slices from V Bites.
Chef Lloyd Hesom admitted 3 days of vegan menus was a big test for his team but said “Catering for 400 with vegan restrictions wasn’t the chef’s nightmare I expected. With a little ingenuity and planning it’s actually quite simple and enlightening. There were lots of hoops we had to jump through but I’m proud of how well my team did at short notice and now we feel ready for anything. If you can please a vegan you can pretty much please anyone!”
“The vegans at Lush had always had the dream of seeing the whole company eat and enjoy a full vegan menu at our conference, but previously no venue had been able to rise to the challenge. Vegan food is suitable for everyone and should be the most stress free menu when mass catering. In an overcrowded world, vegan food will provide an answer to keeping everyone fed – so our meeting is a vision of the future.” Said Hilary from Lush
All of the vegan foods showcased at the Lush conference and many more will be exhibited and available for tasting at the Vegfest UK Vegetarian and Vegan Expo at London Olympia on the 5th and 6th October. Lush will also be at Vegfest showing off their new Christmas range.
Foods for Life Health and Nutrition (Croydon) www.optimumnutritionists.com
Lush Cosmetics www.lush.co.uk
Selsdon Park Mansion Hotel
Koko dairy free www.kokodairyfree.com
Fry’s Vegetarian Foods www.frysvegetarian.co.uk
V Bites Meat free dairy free fish free foods www.vbitesfoods.com
Plamil Foods (chocolate) www.plamilfoods.co.uk
Vegfest UK London Exhibition and awards 5th 6th Oct Olympia London www.London.vegfest.co.uk