Press Release, August 2023

Birmingham Food System Strategy outlining transformation of city’s food system revealed to the hospitality sector.

The Birmingham Food System Strategy, which aims for a bolder, healthier and more sustainable food system in the city, was presented to the hospitality sector on Monday 31st July at the Midlands Hospitality Network (formerly known as C.H.E.F).

Founded by Tonic Talent and with meetings throughout the year, last month’s MHN was held at x+why 103 Colmore Row where the Birmingham Food System Strategy’s vision, ambition and key principles were introduced to chefs, business owners and back-of-house staff within the local hospitality industry for the first time. 

Opening with a keynote from Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health with Lewis Walker, Deputy Head of The Birmingham College of Food at University College Birmingham then leading discussions, the free event also explored how the strategy was formed from projects across the city. 

This included consultations with city-wide stakeholders across the hospitality sector aiming to transform the food system and grow the Birmingham food revolution, including The Birmingham College of Food.

The institution launched Creative Dinners as part of its work on the Food System Strategy, a series of debate-style dining experiences at the University’s very own training restaurant. The Dinners aim to bring together diverse, inspiring and innovative trailblazers from across Birmingham, the UK and around the world to have conversations on key subjects affecting the food system and spark the collective power of change through collaboration.

These topics have been key to the Food System Strategy’s work streams focusing on food production connectivity, sustainable sourcing, food offer and diet transformation. Other work streams in the Strategy include minimising food waste and unsustainable packaging, facilitating a thriving local food economy and maximising training and employment, and improving food safety and standards within the city. 

Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council said: “Creating a healthy, affordable, delicious and diverse food system in Birmingham will take a partnership and working with food businesses and organisations is fundamental to creating a thriving and economically sustainable food economy. These businesses and organisations are at the heart of what makes Birmingham a great city to live, work and play in. They are economically vital to the City and working with C.H.E.F to connect them into the strategy and its implementation as we move forward is essential to making the vision for a better future for food industry.”

Conrad Brunton, Managing Director of Tonic Talent, said: “We are delighted that Birmingham City Council chose our C.H.E.F networking event to launch the Birmingham Food System Strategy publicly. I would like to thank George and his team at x+why for hosting the event and Justin for personally attending and delivering the keynotes. I am certain everyone who attended found the topic fascinating, and I look forward to speaking to people to learn how they have engaged with it.”

Lewis Walker, Deputy Head of The Birmingham College of Food at University College Birmingham said: “It was fantastic to bring the Food System Strategy to Birmingham’s thriving and vibrant hospitality sector and facilitate conversations around how the city can support and enhance the food revolution. This vital work brings together so many facets of the local food culture and I’m incredibly proud and excited that The Birmingham College of Food are able to work so closely in raising its profile.”

About The Food System Team 

The Food System Team, is a dedicated team within the Public Health Division at Birmingham City Council, that is driven by three key principles of collaboration, empower, and equalise. 

Our city feeds over 1.1 million residents every day. With such a dense population, our urban food system has a huge impact on the people and world around us – which is why the Food System Team was created to enable and support real system approaches to one of our largest opportunities. 

The Birmingham Food Revolution has been building for many years as people across our city have recognised that action is needed to ensure this impact is positive, and they have stepped up to the challenge. Our Local Food Legends have been trailblazing inspirational actions such as community dining projects, composting initiatives, surplus food redistribution, cooking classes, behavioural science research into eating habits, growing projects, getting more local food into the supply chain and so much more. 

These actions are often happening in ways that are unconnected to other areas of the food system. Uniting our city under the Birmingham Food System Strategy, and through the Birmingham Food Revolution has revealed how our coordinated collective action can produce more than the sum of its parts.

To find out more about the Birmingham Food Revolution, visit our webpage at

About Midlands Hospitality Network

MHN is the only hospitality and catering networking group in the Midlands, set up to share best practices, discuss and debate topical issues and provide a place for open networking. Anyone at any level or from any department can join us.

Since its inception, MHN has welcomed some fantastic industry professionals, experts and thought leaders as special guests. Each meeting is held at a different venue in and around Birmingham, so accessibility is easy.

Light refreshments are always provided by our hosts followed by an opportunity to network and chat in a relaxed environment.

MHN is proud to support Springboard, Hospitality Action, Love Brum and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. 

About Tonic Talent

The team at Tonic are passionate professionals, all with backgrounds in the hospitality industry. 

We’re united in our vision to build long-lasting partnerships which add value to our client’s businesses and our candidate’s careers.

Tonic Talent supplies a variety of hospitality and catering roles from entry-level to senior management and work with a range of businesses from street-food vendors, Michelin-starred restaurants, and small independents to well-known brands and large operators across the whole of the UK.

Tonic is REC accredited, meaning we operate within the Recruitment and Employment Confederation Code of Professional Practice and Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

About University College Birmingham 

University College Birmingham’s mission is to ensure its students can follow their passion, while learning the industry skills employers want from graduates that meet today’s skills agenda.  

Enterprise and practical experience are a key focus across the University’s degree courses, covering the areas of health and nursing, education, sport and physiotherapy, business and tourism, computing and cyber security, engineering and sustainable construction, food, and creative services.  

In the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the University works with over 1,000 employers locally, nationally, and globally to ensure students have diverse industry experiences and complete their studies as a confident, career-ready graduate with specialist knowledge. 

This focus is bolstered by the fact many of the degrees are awarded by the University of Warwick, ranked 8th in the UK by The Guardian League Table 2023. This is a developing partnership between two universities that aims to open progression pathways, with far-reaching benefits for learners. 

Fully inclusive, the University has a diverse student population, 56% of whom come from within 30 miles of Birmingham. Through key partnerships, University College Birmingham is committed to widening access to university education, regardless of background. 

Student support is paramount, and the University not only won Silver at the University of the Year at the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023, but also the top award for International student support, and student support in 2022, as voted for by students themselves.

The University has invested £160 million into its facilities over the past decade, including cutting edge sports facilities, and is about to start building a Sustainable Construction and Engineering Centre ready for the 2023 academic year.  


Social media: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | YouTube | TikTok  

Media Enquiries:

Related articles

View all posts