Corporate social responsibility - the WhitCo way
Our approach to Corporate Social Responsibility starts within Whitco, our team and our culture. It extends into our charitable activities for raising funds for Motor Neurone Disease, and Jeff's Way
The Thumbs Up Logo represents our commitment to customer satisfaction and quality. It is also a deliberate echo of the Thumbs Up icon used by MNDA, the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Whitco is a passionate supporter of the MNDA, as a tribute to our founder Jeff Whittaker, below, who died of the disease in 2018.
Building a career and a life…
Inspired by our late great boss Jeff Whitaker we have set up Jeff's Way to help young people grow, develop and build great careers in our multi-billion pound industry.
As well as supporting the development of young chefs, we offer apprenticeships to help young people join the ground floor what is now the UK's largest service industry employing 125,000 people in the UK.
Whitco wins national award for CSR
The Whitco team has been recognised for its achievements with Jeff's Way with a national award for corporate social responsibility. The Catering Insights Award was presented at a black tie event at London's Royal Leonardo Hotel team.
This accolade recognises a UK dealer that is environmentally conscious and promotes staff wellbeing, or who has thrown their backing behind important charitable initiatives.
Whitco is on track to donate £18,000 by year-end. Through Jeffs Way, Whitco is committed to growing more support for training and improving the prospects of individuals. Its aim is to grow the first cohort to 25 in the next five years.
Vita Whitaker, CEO and commercial director at Whitco, said: "We have always cared so much about our team and we continue to do so, but to be able to extend it outside of our business is amazing and to be committed to people is truly amazing. We are very grateful for this award."
How we help young chefs to build their careers
Jeff's Way was set up to honour the memory of Whitco founder Jeff Whitaker, following his untimely death in 2018.
The Jeff Whitaker Award is presented to Culinary Arts Students. The award provides an opportunity to help students to gain additional work experience within some of the country's finest restaurants. These placements continue their education and create opportunities for professional development.
The locations for the placements are centres of excellence that are invested in the development of young talent.
The scholarships generously support a week's training, accommodation, and expenses for the nominated students. A programme of mentoring and support continues after the placement.
Jeff's Brigade, as the young chefs have become known, now includes Josie Milicevic (Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, 2019 and 2022), Nathan O'Farrell (Galvin at Windows, Park Lane Hilton, London, 2020), and Harry Keen (The Waterside Inn, Bray 2022).
FALCON INN, CASTLE ASHBY
In November, two more students will be joining the programme with stages planned at The Falcon Hotel, Castle Ashby, where they will work under the expert tutelage of Russell Bateman, pictured, former head chef at Gordon Ramsay's Michelin-starred Knightsbridge restaurant Pétrus.
Away from the glamour, Jeff's Way isn't just about helping those wanting to work in fine dining restaurants. We are also invested in making catering and hospitality a career path for anyone wanting to work with food and drink. We see an equal value in careers in cheffing and serving across our industry from high-end venues to the creation of wholesome meals for those in care and education - and to serving that meal with a warm, caring and friendly smile. Food is our pleasure, and ultimately it is our salvation. In June 2023, five students will be joining the growing programme.
Reinforcing the three pillars with financial support
Jeff's Way was set up in March 2018 as a Community Interest Company to promote three pillars that had helped Jeff to develop his career: education, opportunity and security.
Since then, with the aid of supporters throughout the industry, we have raised more than £30,000 for good causes. Early recipients included organisations close to Jeff's heart including the RNLI and Peterborough Sea Cadets. More latterly we have developed our programme for young food professionals and donated to the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).
Jeff's Way will be working secure continuous investment for the future so that it can provide ongoing support. At the same time, we will look inwardly and seek to support the development of our own talented team here at Whitco to ensure professional development and training as part of our work. Empowering our own people and giving them the best tools to do their jobs is the best way to serve our customers.
We're guided by the concept of The Three Ps: People, Planet and Profit.
Plans are now in hand to purpose Jeff's Way as a registered charity at the heart of the way that Whitco works.
Education, opportunity and security - building a legacy
Young people are our future. Our aim is to help them to benefit from education, opportunity and security. In this way they can grow, thrive and develop into a generation of adults that make a positive difference.
Hundreds pay tribute to Jeff Whitaker
Hundreds of family, friends, employees and colleagues from the catering industry filled Oundle School's Great Hall on Thursday to celebrate the life of Whitco founder Jeff Whitaker, who died in January 2018 from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) after a short illness.
Among those paying tribute were Jeff's cousin and former MP Phil Sawford, cousin Sebastian La Porta, David Grundy of Hobart, Whitco MD Tony Butler, catering consultant Tony Bannell, Oundle butcher and friend Martin Trendall, and close friend Richard Kirk.
They all spoke of Jeff's generosity, loyalty, sociability, humour and courage in the face of his illness. Appropriately, the service was followed by generous hospitality at a reception in the school's Great Hall. A collection for Jeff's Way, the fund set up to support young people, was generously supported.
Jeff's Way supports three causes that were close to Jeff's Heart: the training of young talent whilst at Catering College (Jeff trained as a chef at Hull College when he was 16), the Sea Cadets where he developed his love of the sea and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
To find out more about MND, please visit the NHS website here.