Two titans of school dinners scooped a Glenfiddich award in London tonight – Jamie Oliver and über-dinner lady Jeanette Orrey.

Oliver is already one of the most recognised faces in the UK, for a clutch of high-profile TV shows, for the ubiquitous TV ad campaign for Sainsbury’s, and latterly for his reality show Jamie’s School Dinners, which has made the chef a household name and generated a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street.

Orrey is less well-known but was the inspiration behind Jamie’s School Dinners, in which he went back to his old school in Greenwich, south east London, to try to revolutionise the lunch menu by serving healthy alternatives to the standard processed fare. Orrey, a school catering manager, has been campaigning to improve school meals since 2000, and has written a book on the subject.

She and Oliver were awarded the Glenfiddich Independent Spirit Award in recognition of their work in ‘widening the understanding and appreciation of food and drink in Britain.’

The award was received on behalf of Oliver – who is away – by Nora Sands, the feisty dinner lady who became the star of Jamie’s School Dinners.

She said, ‘We are now halfway through rolling out the new menus developed with Jamie in schools across the borough. Processed ingredients have of course been totally removed.’

Other awards were won by Anthony Rose, Decanter contributor and columnist for the Independent newspaper (Wine Writer), Joanna Blythman for her book Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets (Food Book), Christy Campbell for Phylloxera (Drink Book).

Matthew Fort of the Guardian was named Cookery Writer, and John Reardon of the Observer (the Guardian’s sister paper) won the Photography award.

Gordon Ramsay, another ubiquitous TV chef, won the GQ Glenfiddich Food and Drink Personality award.

Best Television Programme was awarded to Beyond River Cottage, presented by chef and organic evangelist Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – who also took the evening’s highest accolade, the Glenfiddich Trophy, ‘for his uncompromising commitment to real food.’

Written by Adam Lechmere