The Lord-Lieutenant was delighted to present COOK with their Queen’s Award for Enterprise. COOK was founded in 1997 by Ed and Dale, two entrepreneurs, with a little shop in Farnham and an old pizza delivery kitchen. Inspired by the taste of great home-cooking, their dream was to find a better way of doing business: working for people and the planet, not just profit. COOK’s founding statement is, “To cook using the same ingredients and techniques a good cook would use at home, so everything looks and tastes homemade.” They have since grown to have 90 COOK shops around the UK, a thriving home delivery business, a network of concessions in like-minded retailers, a puddings kitchen in Somerset, and two kitchens in Kent.

In 2013 they became one of the UK’s first certified B Corps, part of a global movement committed to a better way of doing business for people and the planet. After 20 years in the kitchen Dale retired in 2017 and Ed now leads the business alongside his sister Rosie, as co-CEOs. COOK is certified by the Living Wage Foundation and has been voted the Best British Food & Drink Company to work for.

Their RAW Talent Programme (RAW stands for Ready And Working), supports people into work who would otherwise struggle to find a good job. This might be due to a criminal conviction, time in prison, homelessness, mental ill health, addiction, neurodiversity or refugee status.

The Category of Queen’s Award for Enterprise that COOK have been awarded is Promoting Opportunity through Social Mobility and, of the four categories in the Queen’s Award, this is one of the toughest categories to win. Out of around 230 winning companies, only 9 have been successful in securing the award in the Promoting Opportunity category. Many congratulations to COOK, a truly inspiring company and one we are very proud to have in Kent.