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Shortlist announced for £10,000 Lou Willcock Scholarship 2023

17th February 2023


We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the inaugural Lou Willcock Scholarship.

The Oxford Cultural Collective (through its registered educational charity) is offering one talented recipient a grant of £10,000 and one year of mentoring support, to help them realise their professional ambitions.

Applicants were invited to propose personal or professional development projects that reflect their aspirations and passions and that will have a lasting legacy.

Commenting on this year’s entries, Martin Holden White, Chair of Trustees: “As this is the first year we have offered the scholarship, we didn’t know what to expect, but we are thrilled with the quality of entries. Those who have been shortlisted have proposed really creative projects, which will be of significant personal benefit and have a positive impact on others. This captures the intended spirit of the Lou Willcock Scholarship.”

The winner will be announced at an awards lunch on 9th March 2023 at Jikoni restaurant in Marylebone, London.  


The shortlist


From top centre: Joshua Key; Opeoluwa Odutayo; Abby Allen; Jack Feeny; and Lara Heitsch and Bethan Fairhurst (joint application)


Joshua Key is a Sales and Marketing Manager for a leading contract caterer and is also the founder of Homestead Coffee Co., a registered social enterprise that is committed to tackling child poverty. In the first six months of trading, Homestead funded over 1000 breakfasts for children who are living in challenging circumstances. Joshua has ambitious plans to develop the business by establishing an independent coffee roastery, opening a high-end café and reaching wider markets through creative business partnerships, all with the aim of enhancing Homestead’s positive social impact.

Joshua plans to use the Lou Willcock Scholarship to develop the skills required in this specialist market – in particular, becoming a recognised expert in the art and science of roasting and brewing coffee, through an immersive learning programme.


Opeoluwa Odutayo is a chef and cultural ambassador who works as part of Future Plate, a professional network that explores, celebrates and extends the reach of African and Caribbean cuisine and culture. Originally from Nigeria, Opeoluwa completed her university studies in Ghana before following her passion for hospitality, by training as a chef at Westminster Kingsway College in London.

She intends to use the Lou Willcock Scholarship to undertake an extended trip to Nigeria, to learn more about the country’s culinary traditions, as well to meet its leading gastronomic innovators. With the backing of film production company, Made By Humans, she will document her experiences. As well as strengthening her contribution to Future Plate, she will prepare learning resources, including the film of her travels, for use by Westminster Kingsway, to introduce greater cultural breadth to their educational programmes.


Abby Allen, Brand Director at Pipers Farm in Devon, is developing a reputation as a passionate advocate for regenerative farming and high-quality British produce. In 2022 she co-authored her first cookbook, Pipers Farm – The Sustainable Meat Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom for Considered Carnivores. Abby intends to build her career as a food writer, by publishing a book that will tell the stories of the unsung heroes who work in our fields, fishing fleets and dairies, who represent the best of UK food culture.  Given this is her first solo project, Abby would first like to build her confidence as an author. She plans to use the Lou Willcock Scholarship, including the mentorship it provides, to undertake writing skills courses, meet established writers who she has long admired and travel across the UK meeting independent producers. She also intends to enhance her professional culinary skills and to open a pop-up restaurant, inspired by the agro-tourism movement in Italy, France and Spain, which will showcase the best of British produce.


Jack Feeny is studying for a masters in Regenerative Food, Farming and Enterprise at Schumacher College and is founder of No Mise En Plastic (NMEP), a free online resource that helps chefs manage their environmental impact, including by eradicating single use products in kitchens. Since its launch in January 2012, NMEP, including its online manual, has been accessed more than 5000 times by chefs worldwide.

Jack intends to use the Lou Willcock Scholarship to build the knowledge and skills required to enhance the reach, profile and impact of No Mise En Plastic, by establishing it as the ‘go to’ resource for an international community of chefs. This will include helping to fund his time as a student, generating more engaging and extensive online content, building his professional network and profile and, ultimately, establishing a ‘farm to table’ restaurant that also serves as an educational centre for chefs.


Lara Heitsch and Bethan Fairhurst, are part of the dedicated team at Café Van Gogh, a popular not-for-profit hospitality venue in Brixton, South London, which runs on the job training for those with learning disabilities, to provide them with the support and confidence to find paid employment. Lara and Bethan are firm believers in the power of hospitality to foster greater social inclusion. With this in mind, they intend to use the Lou Willcock Scholarship to develop their practical skills and knowledge, to enable them to enhance the positive impact of Café Van Gogh. This will take the form of an immersive learning trip to the US, to gain experience with the operators of Bitty and Beau’s which, since its launch in 2016, has grown to include 23 franchised cafes across the southern States, which employ and support people with learning disabilities. On their return, they will review Café Van Gogh’s business model and propose strategies for growth and development.


Meet the judges


Ravinder Bhogal, Tom Parker-Bowles, Martin Holden-White, Anna Klenert and Ceri Butcher


The members of the judging panel for the 2023 Lou Willcock Scholarship are:

Ravinder Bhogal is an award-winning food writer, journalist and stylist. She is the author of two cookbooks and has a regular column in the FT. Ravinder is chef proprietor of Jikoni in London’s Marylebone, which she opened in 2016.

Tom Parker Bowles is an award-winning restaurant critic and food writer. He is Food Editor of Esquire, a Contributing Editor to Conde Nast Traveller and the author of eight books. He is also a regular judge on BBC 1’s Masterchef.

Martin Holden-White is the founder of Grubby, which aims to make cooking and eating high quality plant-based foods more accessible and convenient. Grubby has achieved rapid growth through investment and is now one of the UK’s leading food box delivery companies. Martin is Chair of the OCC Trust.

Anna Klenert is an educator who has over 20 years of experience in the design, delivery and management of higher education. She is a specialist in leadership and talent development through coaching and mentoring. Anna is Secretary of the OCC Trust.

Ceri Butcher is Head of Development and Alumni Relations at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, before which she was Head of External Relations for Oxford Brookes University. Ceri is a Trustee of the OCC Trust.


The scholarship has been created to honour the legacy of Lou Willcock (1961 – 2018), a creative force in hospitality, who was a close friend and colleague of many in the OCC community. In addition to achieving great personal success as an entrepreneur, she dedicated herself to supporting others as a mentor and guide. Her relentlessly positive, hopeful and inquiring approach had a life-affirming
impact on all who knew her.

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