Merrill J. Fernando, the founder of Dilmah Tea, has been honoured by the WorldChefs Congress 2018 with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for his passion and commitment to tea as well as ability to turn business into a human service. Fernando was presented the award by WorldChefs president Thomas Gugler at the biennial congress in Kuala Lumpur. Over 1000 chefs were present, representing 100 Chefs’ Societies around the world.

Fernando was recognised for his ongoing commitment to tea, in particular his fight against the economic system in the early years, a remnant of colonial India which saw all Indian tea being sold at an auction in London. Fernando’s commitment to the grower eventually saw a shift in the way tea was viewed, bringing power back to the grower and resulting in a system wherein tea, coffee and cocoa were grown, picked, packed and branded at source by a farmer.

Fernando and Dilmah were a driving force behind the Empower Culinary School, a WorldChefs approved training school that offers culinary training free of charge to disadvantaged young men and women. A second Empower Culinary School will open in August this year at the MJF Centre East, the largest privately funded charitable initiative in Sri Lanka.