It’s easy, spending the majority of the time in the office, for us to forget exactly what it’s like out on the shop floor, so to speak and what exactly is involved in running a sustainable restaurant

So we jumped at the chance of a team outing at one of our founder Members, Cookery School. And what better Christmas team-bonding exercise than mince pie making and baking.

The love and care that owner Rosalind Rathouse puts into every aspect of her operation simply bubbles over like a festive bottle of fizz. And so much of that enthusiasm is derived from all of the sustainability measures she has introduced over the years she’s been running this central London institution. Few stones have been left unturned. As part of the introduction, we were talked through the recycling policy to ensure we didn’t trash the waste system. The grey water system and the energy efficient hobs are also key to Rosalind’s operation.

She then talked us through the process, lovingly describing the provenance of all of the ingredients. Boy, does she care. The organic eggs and butter, flour from a named mill – this is sourcing not by numbers, but by nature. It goes without saying that the fruit in the mincemeat was organic too.

Despite an injury to her right hand inflicted by a hand blender recently, Rosalind demonstrated the rolling, kneading and other essential techniques we would need to produce mince pies of which we could be proud.

So, to work. In teams of four we mixed the flour, salt, sugar and butter, taking it in turns to work out all the lumps. It started to strike me then, the metaphor. Making this delicious, fatty, forgiving pastry was very much like running a sustainable restaurant. Rosalind’s urgings to be patient and take it slowly only served to emphasise the comparison.

We were mixing together impeccably sourced ingredients, slowly but surely making them stick together and when the eggs were added suddenly they all came together as one – a perfectly formed ball of pastry.  Fifteen minutes in the oven, a wee dusting of icing sugar and these tiny, but perfectly formed mince pies were ready to be enjoyed.

Every day, you, our Members, are working as a team to combine all the ingredients needed to make food good bringing them together, as if by alchemy, every time you serve your customers. We hope that you share half the joy we did making those mince pies – even more so with a dollop of brandy butter on top.

Merry Christmas to you all and the very best of wishes for a prosperous 2016.