Chef Michael Meredith has received an award from his old school, Mt Albert Grammar, for his contributions to cuisine and philanthropy.

Samoan-born Mr Meredith, founder of social enterprise Eat My Lunch, has been named Albertian of the year for his work as a chef and his contributions to charity.

He said it was "a big honour" to receive the award and he has "a lot of good memories" of the school.

"It was my first point of contact with New Zealand society, coming from Samoa."


The school has changed hugely since he attended, Mr Meredith said. From 1988-1991 when he attended, the school was much smaller and for boys only.

It has since expanded and began enrolling girls in 2000.

He never took a cooking class at the school as they were not offered, but says working on the school farm spurred his love of fresh ingredients.

Art classes also fostered his need to express himself creatively, which he began to do through cooking after leaving school.

Mr Meredith and his brother began cooking at home from the age of "7 or 8".

He worked at restaurants in New York, Melbourne and Sydney before opening his own Auckland restaurant, Meredith's, in 2007.

One night a week, the restaurant's proceeds are donated to charity. The SPCA, Cure Kids and the Fred Hollows Foundation are some of the charities who have received money from Meredith's.

His other venture, Eat My Lunch, provides a lunch to a child in need for every one customers buy.

Eat My Lunch is now delivering meals to more than 1300 Auckland schoolchildren every weekday, and will soon be launching in Hamilton and Wellington.

Mr Meredith said he felt the importance of charity work as he was not from a privileged background.

The award will be presented by food writer Nici Wickes at a dinner at the Northern Club tomorrow.