Members’ News

July 2015

Major merger shakes up contract catering sector #

Leading independent caterer and Royal Warrant holder, CH&Co, has announced that it is to merge with the HCM Group (Host Catermasters Group) in a deal which gives the new combined business a turnover approaching £200m, and a team of 4,500 providing services to over 400 operations across the UK and Ireland.

The new company will be called the CH&Co Group and it will be headed up by HCM’s CEO, Bill Toner, who will now be group CEO, with CH&Co’s co-founders, Robyn and Tim Jones, continuing in their previous roles as founder and chairman respectively.

The deal comes together against a backdrop of an increasingly competitive industry where consolidation is the perfect answer for mid-sized independents ready to take on the largest competitors. According to Bill Toner, the deal makes perfect sense for both companies. “This merger between CH&Co and HCM Group enables both companies to combine their assets and talent and have the financial strength to compete even more vigorously. We are so much stronger together but although we’re now a bigger company, we’re still made up of a number of smaller, well-established, high calibre brands focussed on providing excellent food and service, and with a reputation for looking after clients and customers. For example, we have Ampersand, Charlton House, Lusso, Chester Boyd, Via 360 and ITA within CH&Co, and Host, Catermasters and Couture within HCM Group. We cover the spectrum from consumer and fully commercial to fixed cost catering for some of the UK’s leading brands and organisations across the business, charity, leisure, education and healthcare sectors.

”Combined, we have an even stronger management team with the credentials to expertly manage business for clients in all these sectors and we now have the scale to successfully mobilise the largest group contracts and provide a real alternative to the big companies.”

Robyn Jones, OBE, explained that for her and Tim, the merger was an important element of determining the long-term legacy of the company they started in 1991. “As we’ve been working closely over the past months bringing the deal together, it’s become increasingly clear that the senior management teams of both companies are working well as one team and share the same values for client and customer relationships, corporate responsibility, and team development, and that’s good news for all our stakeholders. Whilst a merger like this will bring some inevitable change while we integrate our companies, that is also a time of opportunity for our teams as we adapt and fine-tune our focus on providing the best food and service to our customers and clients.”

The existing executive management teams of both CH&Co and HCM will remain largely in position but Stuart Lawson, CH&Co’s current Group Chief Executive, is leaving the business in due course having overseen a number of strategic changes and brand reviews within the company over the past 18 months. Tim Jones added, “Stuart has played a key role in getting CH&Co ready for this major transition and we’re grateful for the leadership and support he has given us and we wish him every success in his next endeavours.”

There has been speculation for well over a decade about when CH&Co would be acquired but the company has never sought that route, although it has itself acquired several businesses over the years. The consolidation of small and mid-sized independent food and service operators as a mechanism to fuel growth and effectively tackle competition from the larger companies is being seen as an attractive option in a very challenging marketplace.

Tim Jones explained, “We’re starting to see more consolidation in our industry, some of which is through new entrants to our market, and we want to be leading this because there are only so many opportunities to build on this scale. Between our two companies, we have an excellent track record of long standing client relationships and we’re now represented across a wider range of hospitality sub-sectors than either company was before, which also gives us the operational scale on a national basis to compete even more effectively.

“Both organisations have excellent client retention records and we have a very experienced management team across our new company with in-depth experience of mergers and acquisitions, and post-deal integration. We’re very confident that this merger will go smoothly and both companies will become even stronger as one entity.”

Both CH&Co and HCM have enjoyed significant success in recent months with a combined £42.8m achieved in new sales and retention since January this year, including £19.6m in new deals and £23.2m in retained contracts.

The new CH&Co Group is predominantly management owned but the deal has also been funded partly by MML Capital, which provides capital to private businesses for expansion, acquisitions, recapitalisations and management buyouts. Richard Mayers and Ian Wallis from MML will also join the CH&Co Group board as non-executive directors and provide counsel on growth strategy. Other non-executive members of the Board include Elizabeth McMeikan and Simon Hodson. 

Premier Foodservice takes chefs and caterers down memory lane with new nostalgic recipe guide #

• Premier Foodservice plans to take chefs and caterers from both the cost and profit sectors on a nostalgic journey with their new Desserts through the Decades Recipe Guide
• The guide showcases how traditional Premier Foods brands can be used to add an innovative twist to the dessert occasion
• Chefs and caterers have the chance to win afternoon tea at The Ritz for two, an establishment itself steeped in history, by downloading the guide from the Premier Foodservice website

Did you know that Alfred Bird invented the ‘original homemade’ Bird’s Custard Powder in 1837?  Or that Ambrosia was first founded in 1917 as an infant nutrition company? Premier Foods’ latest recipe guide reveals key events in the manufacturer’s history, alongside wider culinary recipe inspiration and tasty top tips for modern day caterers.

The Desserts through the Decades guide delivers eight costed recipes inspired by the nation’s favourite desserts, alongside a selection of vintage Premier Foods adverts. Designed specifically to showcase Premier Foods’ traditional and trusted brands, which include McDougalls, Bird’s, Ambrosia and Angel Delight, the guide can be used to add excitement to any dessert menu by adding innovative twists to the most popular desserts from the last 80 years.

Sarah Gray, channel marketing manager at Premier Foods comments, “Our new Desserts through the Decades guide brings an aspect of fun through a nostalgic look back at the products we all remember from our childhoods. Readers of this guide will also be taken on a journey through the decades with the publication of a number of our ads from the archives. 

“The guide will also provide the healthcare sector with exciting and innovative dessert options, ensuring the nutritional needs of people with special diets such as dysphagia are met. A number of recipes in this guide can be used by healthcare caterers to aid them when making desserts for their patients.

"All new recipes featured within the guide have been created and developed by Louise Wagstaffe, culinary advisor for Premier Foods.  From Pineapple Upside Down cake in the 1930’s, to Lavender Cupcakes in the noughties, the recipes are ideal for creating excitement within the upsell opportunity that the dessert occasion creates. The guide also provides top tips on how to make the most of the recipes with twists and tricks to provide variety which will help drive footfall among both new and existing customers.” 

To celebrate the launch of the new recipe guide, Premier Foods is also running an online competition giving chefs and caterers the chance to win afternoon tea for two at The Ritz, an establishment that is renowned for its history.  To be in with a chance of winning the luxurious trip to the Mayfair-based hotel, chefs must simply download the guide from the Premier Foodservice website, by 31 August 2015. 

Premier Foodservice set to help caterers unlock sizzling summer sales #

• Nearly a quarter of chefs and caterers, who have the facilities, are failing to unlock significant sales during the summer months by not offering their customers outdoor dining options
• 77% of consumers currently seek an Al Fresco dining solution during the summer months and the foodservice industry should look to cater for those looking for a fresh summer dining experience, whether that be lighter dishes or outdoor areas
• With 73% of consumers citing an open BBQ as an attractive feature when choosing where to eat out, Premier Foodservice highlights the importance of creating theatre and excitement during the warmer weather with the launch of its new Summer Sizzlers Guide and a competition offering outlets the chance to win a professional BBQ worth nearly £1,000

Premier Foodservice is launching a new addition to its popular Menu Solutions Guide series, with the latest edition focusing on the opportunity that the summer season provides caterers. The Summer Sizzlers Guide will demonstrate how Premier Foods’ trusted brands, including Bisto, Homepride, McDougalls and many more, can be used during the summer months to help drive footfall and increase sales. 

The new guide features independent research commissioned by Premier Foods which reveals how important Al Fresco dining is to consumers, with 77% saying they seek Al Fresco dining options during the summer months.  As well as demonstrating the importance of offering outdoor dining options, the guide also details how chefs can make the most of their social media activity by successfully engaging with customers over sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

• Nearly three-quarters of consumers have used a social media site to help aid an eating-out choice
• 75% of caterers admit social media is important or very important to communicate with both existing and potential customers
• 40% of consumers post photos as part of their eating-out experience

Sarah Gray, channel marketing manager, says: “Investing in bespoke research ensures that we remain at the forefront of trends and consumer insights, which is a vital element in our quest to provide the very best solutions for our customers. To support the launch of this guide, we are running on online competition which will give chefs and caterers the chance to win a top-of-the-range BBQ to ensure their outlet is prepared for the summer season.”

The guide features new costed recipes categorised by course from Italian-inspired Bruschetta to Strawberry, Marshmallow and Brownie Skewers, the recipes are ideal for the summer. 

To be in with a chance of winning the top-of-the-range BBQ, chefs must simply download the Summer Sizzlers Guide from the Premier Foodservice website by 31 August 2015.

New research from Huhtamaki gives insight into UK takeaway hot drinks market #

Huhtamaki is always keen to share its knowledge with customers; and in order to further understand the use of disposable cups within beverage services found on the UK high street, Huhtamaki commissioned independent research into consumer attitudes towards takeaway hot drinks.

The research shows that 80% of the UK population purchase takeaway hot drinks, 85% of consumers want outlets to use compostable takeaway cups, and over half of consumers (57%) would pay 2% more for their drinks to be served in them.  Support for UK manufacturing was also identified – 83% of consumers would prefer caterers to use disposable cups made in the UK.

Huhtamaki researched three main areas – frequency and type of purchase, the importance of the disposable cup, and environmental concerns – amongst 2,000 respondents representative of the general UK population aged 18+ years, who purchased hot drinks from independent or high street coffee shops within the couple of months prior to being questioned.

Almost a quarter of consumers buy takeaway hot drinks ‘very frequently’ (2-3 times a week or more), and the range of outlets from which they buy is varied – Costa is most popular (28%), but the popularity of McDonald’s (13%) and Greggs (7%) shows that consumers are buying from non-traditional coffee shops too.

The type of takeaway hot drinks purchased was researched – coffee-based beverages (77%) such as cappuccino and latte were most popular – together with the size most frequently ordered – 65% of consumers buy 12oz and 16oz takeaway hot drinks.

The majority of consumers (75%) expressed an opinion as to the types of colours they find most appealing – 34% prefer earthy colours, 24% dark colours and 14% bright colours – and 63% of consumers have a preference as to the types of messaging they want to see featured.  Two thirds of consumers (42%) want to see messages relating to the provenance of ingredients and the ethical sourcing of materials used to make the disposable cup.

When it comes to issues concerning the environment, two thirds of consumers (68%) are aware of the availability of biodegradable paper and ‘plastic’ products, and understand the concept of biodegradability.  Consumers want to be told about the environmental impact of the products they are using – 89% think information about the compostability and recyclability of products should be provided.

For further information about disposable hot cups, hot drinks on the high street or the links between hot drinks and the environment, email to receive a copy of our market trends guides!  Alternatively, call Huhtamaki UK Ltd. on 02392 512434 or visit

BHA commends appointment of John Whittingdale as culture media and sport secretary #

The British Hospitality Association commended the Prime Minister’s appointments of John Whittingdale as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Tracey Couch as Minister for Sport and Tourism. The decision to appoint two MPs with experience on the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee will hopefully lead to positive momentum for the industry. As the former chairman of the committee, Whittingdale said the Government should look into measures that would reduce regulation and taxation burdens to boost the tourism industry’s contributions to the UK’s economy.

Following the conclusion of the Tourism Inquiry, in March 2015 the Commons Culture Select Committee highlighted the Government’s failure to give the tourism industry sufficient recognition and support. The committee responded to the BHA’s recommendations and agreed with the positive effect a cut in tourism VAT could have on the industry and called on the Government to give it full consideration.

According to the latest World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitive Index published last week, while the UK has the fifth most competitive tourism market in the world buoyed by its healthy business environment, strong air travel infrastructure and wealth of cultural attractions, it ranks 140th out of 141 countries for cost competitiveness. Out of all the countries analysed, only Switzerland is a more expensive destination than the UK. 

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association said: “We commend the appointments of ministers who are knowledgeable of our industry to lead the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. With the recent Tourism Inquiry report serving as a great foundation, we look forward to working closely with John and Tracey especially in leading the delivery of the Inquiry’s recommendations to reduce tourism VAT, improve the speed and cost of visas and to diversify and strengthen the Tourism Council. The time has come for the hospitality industry to be empowered to help our economy reach its potential with more jobs, visitors and tourists across the UK.” 

Age Cohort research identifies how age affects our taste in food #

Santa Maria Foodservice published the first Age Cohort Report that establishes the eating habits and tastes of four generations. The report provides insight into what flavours make consumers tick, how that changes with age and its effect on the eating-out market.

The research, conducted on behalf of Santa Maria by Allegra Foodservice, explored the eating habits and flavour preferences of 2,000 consumers across four different generations: the Millennials, aged between 18-34; Generation X aged between 35-49; Baby Boomers aged between 50-64 and the War Babies aged 65+.

The report shows that the generations have distinct differences in their eating-out habits and flavour preferences.

* Millennials eat out three times as much as War Babies. And they’re eating everywhere... at home, at work, out and about. 21% see eating out as the new going out. They like to try something new, especially food that’s sweet, salty or sour. They are the most cost conscious with 47% more Millennials put off trying something new because of the cost
* Generation X has a relatively higher household income and like strong, savoury flavours. Over a quarter like to regularly try something new when they go out
* Baby Boomers are a savoury stronghold. They love a medium/hot curry the most and are more adventurous with hot and spicy food than any other generation
* War Babies are comparatively less well-off, with a third having an income of less than £20,000. Almost half prefer to eat British cuisine when eating out and top choices are familiar cafés, pubs and independent restaurants

A consistent trend is that as age increases, respondents become more aware of what they like and are less likely to choose new dishes on the menu or try new foods at home. 60% of War Babies said the menu description was the most important factor to encourage them to try new dishes, while a third of Millennials said social media recommendations and foodie interests drive their choice.

Eimear Owens, country sales manager - UK & Ireland, Santa Maria Foodservice
commented: “Demographic changes will have a huge impact on the eating out market in the coming years. By 2025, 23% of the world’s population will be over 65. Our report shows that one size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to menu and concept development.  Operators will have to be more flexible, and depending on their brand profile, will need to understand how to exploit the growth in ‘seniors’ who prefer familiar foods they know and love and capitalise on younger diners who see eating out as the new going out.”

The report found that respondents across all age groups prefer bolder and spicier flavours more now than three years ago. Nearly half of all Millennials said they liked spicy food more now than three years ago and Baby Boomers led the field, with 80% saying they enjoy spicy foods, with Indian food in their top three cuisines when eating out. This mirrors the findings of our Street Food Report from 2014 which found that 80% of respondents liked the adventurous flavours and spices of street food.

Throughout the report Santa Maria Foodservice offers practical tips and advice on how operators can use spices to easily dial-up flavours, tailor dishes to suit the different age groups and introduce a unique point of difference to menus.

Eimear concludes:  “We’re delighted to be able to share this insight with operators and help our customers create inspiring and great tasting menus for their customers. There’s never been a more important time for operators to spice up their menus.”

Visit for a copy of the report highlights.

New guide to pepper launched as chefs admit to 'blind spot' in the kitchen #

Santa Maria Foodservice has launched a new online pepper guide in response to research that shows chefs have a lack of knowledge about black pepper.

The research of more than 400 UK chefs was conducted by The Staff Canteen in April 2015 on behalf of Santa Maria.

Despite nine out of ten respondents considering black pepper an important ingredient and 78% of chefs using it in at least seven of their top ten selling dishes, 63% admit to having a lack of knowledge about black pepper. Chefs admit they know more about salt than pepper.

Eimear Owens, country sales manager UK & Ireland, Santa Maria Foodservice, comments: “Black pepper is the world’s most consumed spice but no-one has really told its story before. 68% of chefs told us they want to know more about black pepper and are particularly interested in its taste, authenticity and provenance.

“So, we’ve produced a free online guide to give chefs the tools and inspiration to help them get the most out of the different types of peppers they use in their dishes.”

The Santa Maria Pepper Guide contains:

• The science behind the balance of heat and aromatics of peppercorns
• How peppers vary, including black pepper versus Malabar, creamy white and green
• How to best release the flavour of peppercorns
• Tips on keeping pepper fresh and tasting at its best

The guide also tells the story of the provenance of Santa Maria’s Tellicherry Black Pepper - from plantation to plate.

Tellicherry pepper is only grown at a certain latitude in Kerala state in Southern India, which is the best pepper-growing region in the world due to its unique climate.

Eimear Owens explains: “Pepper is full of surprises. Just like wine, peppercorns absorb the characteristics of the local soil and climate - terroir. If Santa Maria Tellicherry Black Pepper were a wine, it would be described as deliciously fruity with a full-bodied flavour.  It delivers a sophisticated taste that subtly lifts dishes without taking over other ingredients.

“During our research leading chefs have described Santa Maria Tellicherry Black Pepper as ‘more aromatic’, ‘fragrant and interesting’, ‘definitely different’ and ‘nice to the palate’.”

To download the free Santa Maria Pepper Guide visit –

Research source: The Staff Canteen, 412 chefs, April 2015

Midlands ‘A-Team’ crowned Britain’s Best Brigade #

The chef team at Warwickshire’s Heritage Motor Centre has been crowned Britain’s Best Brigade in a public vote to find the UK’s hardest working kitchen.

The catering team at the motor museum and fine dining conference centre, saw off seven other regional finalists after almost 1000 votes were cast in Essential Cuisine’s nationwide competition.

After an initial paper judging stage, the teams were tasked with creating short videos to encapsulate the sense of camaraderie, teamwork and cooking prowess within the kitchen walls. Proudly representing the Midlands, The Heritage Motor Centre brigade channelled the spirit of The Italian Job and TV’s ‘The A-Team’ to create a memorable short film that has been viewed over 550 times since its May launch. 

The win sees the team scoop the title of Britain’s best plus £1000 and an exclusive menu development masterclass with a leading UK chef.

Heritage Motor Centre head chef, Paul Kelly, who submitted the original entry, had this to say on the win: “We’re over the moon. I’m proud to have a really close-knit, passionate brigade who enjoy cooking together and working for each other – hopefully that showed in our video entry. After making the video, we just tried to get the message out to as many people as we could that we were representing the Midlands – the response was just phenomenal.” 

Paul revealed that the team are planning to use part of the £1000 for a brigade dinner, while the remainder will be donated to various charities. 

Nigel Crane, managing director for Essential Cuisine, said: “Congratulations to the brigade at the Heritage Motor Centre for proving they really are the A-Team when it comes to pulling together and turning out plates to be proud of. Their video encapsulated everything that is great about working in a kitchen: reward, dedication to the cause and passion for perfection, all delivered with a hefty slice of good humour – they rightly deserve to be known as Britain’s best.

The Heritage Motor Centre team cater for the museum café as well as delegates of the centre’s 25 meeting and function rooms. Their winning video can be viewed here:

The seven runners-up in Britain’s Best Brigades will receive £300 towards a team-building night on the tiles. 

National Chef of the Year semi-finalists revealed chefs to take on the biggest challenge of their career #

The Craft Guild of Chefs can now revealed the 40 chefs going though to the semi-final of the National Chef of the Year competition. The National Chef of the Year is the most prestigious of all UK chef competitions and widely recognised as a life-changing and career-boosting event for its winners.

The semi-finalists listed competing in the heats in June at Sheffield College or at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London are:

Lee Bird, Head Chef, Gilpin Hotel and Lake House
Ian Boden, Independent Development Chef, Flourish Food Solutions
James Buckley, Executive Chef, Excel London, Levy Restaurants UK
David Burgum, Head Chef, BaxterStorey
Jake Burton Stewart, Senior Chef de Partie, BaxterStorey
David Bush, Sous Chef, The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn
Martin Carabott, Sous Chef, The Royal Automobile Club
Elisha Carter, Head Chef, Café Royal Hotel
Jamie Coleman, Senior Sous Chef, Saunton Sands
Paul Cunliffe, Chef Patron, The Dunsforth Public House & Dining
David Davey-Smith, Chef Instructor, RAF
Andrew Ditchfield, Pastry Chef, House of Commons
Nick Evans, Head Chef, Middlethorpe Hall Hotel
Mark Forman, Executive Head Chef, Goodwood Hotel
Paul Foster, Head Chef, Mallory Court
Michelle Fourie, Senior Sous Chef, Ember Yard Tavern
Mark Froydenlund, Head Chef, Restaurant Marcus
Adam Handling, Head Chef, Restaurant Adam Handling
Anna Haugh, Head Chef, London House
Ollie Hay, Senior Sous Chef, Clifford Chance, Restaurant Associates
James Holah, Head Chef, Sonny’s Kitchen
Stephen Humphries, Head Chef, Foxel Ltd
Larry Jayasekara, Sous Chef, Gordon Ramsay Holding
Mark Kempson, Head Chef, Kitchen W8
Luciano Lucioli, Head Chef, Marks & Spencers Headquarters (Lusso - CH&Co)
Joe McCafferty, Head Chef, Bone Daddies Ltd
Lawrence McCarthy, Sous Chef, The Ledbury Restaurant
Roger Olsson, Executive Sous Chef, The Dorchester Hotel
Jack O’Sullivan, Sous Chef, The Angel Inn at Hetton
Peter Pickering, Sous Chef, Galvin La Chapelle
Sauarbh Prabhakar, Executive Sous Chef, Hilton Hotels
Gabor Pusztaidoc, Head Chef, The Pack Horse Inn, Ellingham
Luke Smith, Head Chef, Lusso CH&Co
Zoltan Szabo, Senior Head Chef, Cameron House on Loch Lomond
Marcin Szelag, Senior Sous Chef, Rocksalt Restaurant
Adam Thomason, Head Chef, Restaurant Associates
Simon Webb, Head Chef, Restaurant Associates
Nick Whatmough, Head Chef, Merrill Lynch
Andy Wright, Sous Chef, Restaurant 23
Neil Yule, Head Chef, Sodexo

The top scoring chefs from both heats will then go through to compete in the National Chef of the Year final at The Restaurant Show on Tuesday 6 October at Olympia, London.  This year, the brief is to create an innovative menu for four people, focusing on technical skills, seasonality and sustainably sourced ingredients.

This year all the finalists will have the opportunity to work with a mentor to help them achieve the best result possible in the final.  The mentoring panel is made up of well respected chefs from across the UK, including previous winners of the title. The Mentor Day is designed to focus the minds of the finalists on the task ahead and will include workshops, masterclasses, meet the sponsor sessions and the big reveal of the mystery basket. It will take place on Tuesday 15
September at Unilever Innovation Kitchen in Leatherhead.

David Mulcahy, vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the competition says, “National Chef of the Year is arguably the toughest culinary challenge in the UK’s competition calendar and the semi-finalists are now facing up to what will be a demanding but ultimately a hugely rewarding experience. Over the past 45 years, we have seen some fantastic chefs make a name for themselves through this competition and I look forward to witnessing this year’s talent.”

Stuart Flint, regional training and demonstration manager at Electrolux Professional commented: “It’s an exciting time for the industry to see such enormous talent at the semi-final stage and we’re so pleased to be a sponsor of such a hotly-contested competition. Previous winners have gone on to have exceptional careers, and we’re excited to see how this year’s line-up express their culinary flair.”

Alan Swinson, culinary arts director at Le Cordon Bleu London comments on the partnership between the two significant names in the culinary industry: “Le Cordon Bleu is delighted to be hosting the semi-finals of the National Chef of the Year for the second time. It was a pleasure last year to have so many of the UK’s leading chefs under our roof. We are really looking forward to welcoming the National Chef of The Year team again this year.”

Winning National Chef of the Year has helped establish the careers of chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, David Everitt-Matthias, Mark Sargeant, Steve Love, Simon Hulstone, Hrishikesh Desai and last year’s winner Russell Bateman.

The esteemed panel of judges will be chaired by Clare Smyth, chef patron at the three Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

Cream of crop celebrated at Craft Guild of Chefs Awards #

The cream of the crop of the UK chef scene was celebrated at this year’s Craft Guild of Chefs Awards, which took place at a glittering gala dinner at the Hilton Park Lane Hotel on Monday 15 June.

Vice presidents of the Craft Guild of Chefs Steve Munkley and David Mulcahy hosted the ceremony in front of an audience of 800 industry luminaries. Amongst the big winners of the night were the Chiltern Firehouse and acclaimed chefs Sat Bains and Billy Campbell.

Nuno Mendes’ Chiltern Firehouse won Best New Restaurant with tough competition from Jason Atherton’s City Social, Kenny Atkinson’s House of Tides and Lee Westcott’s Typing Room.

The Special Award, which has previously been awarded to top chefs including Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White, went to two-Michelin starred chef Sat Bains. He opened his eponymous restaurant in Nottingham in 2002 to great acclaim and has since been heralded as one of Britain’s most celebrated chefs.

Billy Campbell, executive chef at Thistle Glasgow Hotel, was voted the People’s Choice after a closely fought contest which saw almost 1,500 votes flood in online. Campbell pipped fellow nominees Allan Blackmore of Levy Restaurants, Al Crisci of The Clink Restaurants, Jiri Koutny of Edinburgh Marriott, and Pilu Pazos of Lakefield College, to win the award.

A further 14 awards were handed out, including the Guild’s new Concept & Innovation Chef Award, which recognised industry trendsetters who are bringing food, fashion and style to the fore. This category had three shortlisted venues (Bodeans, STK London and TED – Think, Eat, Drink) which were voted for on the evening with the winner being STK London.

The Craft Guild of Chefs Awards acknowledge a host of leading lights across the industry, whether they work in a pub, fine dining restaurant, city university, military unit or in contract catering, and even as development chefs for national retailers.

The full list of winners is:

Apprentice Chef
Ben Garnett-Sinclair, apprentice chef at Lusso

Armed Service Chef
Amrit Limbu, junior chef at 10th Brigade, Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment

Banqueting/Event Chef
Mark Reynolds, executive head chef at Delaware North

Chef Lecturer
Gary MacLean, chef lecturer at City of Glasgow College

Competition Chef
Adam Bennett, chef director at The Cross, Kenilworth

Catering Chef
Mark Cheetham, executive chef, Sodexo UK 

Craft Guild’s Concept & Innovation Chef Award 
STK London 

Development Chef
Antony Bennett, head of food development, La Tasca Restaurant Group (

Ethnic Chef
Stephen Gomes, chef/patron at Moksh 

New Restaurant of the Year
Nuno Mendes, Chiltern Firehouse 

Pastry Chef
Daniel Pearse, head pastry chef at Hakkasan 

People’s Choice
Billy Campbell, executive chef at Thistle Glasgow Hotel 

Pub Restaurant Chef
Ray Brenner, head chef at The Peach Pub Company 

Public Sector Chef
Rob Bean, executive head chef at University of Leicester

Restaurant Chef
Adam Smith, head chef at Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel 

Young Chef
Craig Bateman, chef at Compass Group UK & Ireland 

Special Award
Sat Bains, Sat Bains with Rooms 

The prestigious awards ceremony were even more the richer for being held in the ‘golden’ year of the Guilds’ 50th anniversary. For more information on the 2015 Awards including all those that were shortlisted and the Craft Guild of Chefs, visit

Pelican’s Piranha wins Business Innovation Award #

Pelican triumphed at the 2015 Catering in Scotland Excellence Awards for its Piranha menu costing and food allergen portal

Pelican Procurement Services, the procurement and supply chain management specialist, has won the Business Innovation Award at the 2015 Catering in Scotland (CIS) Excellence Awards for the launch of its cloud-based food allergen, menu costing and nutritional analysis tool, Piranha - the industry’s first automated system providing access to live-pricing data, allergen and nutritional information, in one central portal.

Developed by Pelican to support foodservice operators accurately cost meals and supply the required allergen data, Piranha delivers access to live-pricing data in a user-friendly environment with full detail of menu costing and portion costs, as well as comprehensive allergen and nutritional content data.

Judges of the CIS Excellence Awards said: “The CIS Excellence Awards recognise and reward both innovation and excellence in Scotland's catering and hospitality sector.  The Pelican Piranha system demonstrated real innovation in helping organisations keep control of costings, whilst also providing a straightforward way of calculating the required allergen information in order to meet the Food Information for Consumers legislation. Well done to the team at Pelican for winning our Business Innovation Award.”

Matt Ferris, online solutions manager of Pelican Procurement Services said: “We are extremely proud that Piranha has been recognised by the judges of the Catering in Scotland Excellence Awards and has won the Business Innovation category. In fact, the organisers described our menu costing system as “ground-breaking software”, and to have won against the likes of the Compass Group, which was shortlisted in the same category, is a real achievement. We have worked extremely hard to develop a system that not only helps clients monitor and control costs for each dish they serve, but also provides immediate access to the necessary allergen and nutritional data.”

8 Pricing 'Dos and Don’ts' to help you run a profitable restaurant #

In the world of food and restaurants, it’s hard to top a resume like Tom Kelly’s. He taught hospitality management at Cornell and served as the Director of University of Minnesota’s hotel school; he’s a former Chairman of the American Institute of Wine & Food, founded by Julia Child and Robert Mondavi. He’s consulted for AAA on how to rate restaurants, ran the Mobil Guides, and started the course on how to be a restaurant critic with famed New York Times restaurant writer Mimi Sheraton.

He adds: “Basically, I go to restaurants for a living. For many years in the ’90s I had the largest bill in the American Express system.”

Now Tom is President and CEO of Revenue Management Solutions, a company that advises restaurants and hospitality firms on optimum margin management. We asked him to share his best practices for pricing a menu and operating a restaurant for maximum profitability — here are some Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind.

DO let the consumer set the price.
Tom works with restaurants to set prices for each item on their menus, which are primarily driven by point-of-sale data from the restaurants. “Something that could be way too cheap at $5 in Manhattan would be way too expensive for the same product in Pocatello, Idaho,” he says. “We actually know that statistically.”

In gathering the POS data he compares the change in prices to changes in profits and guest counts. That way, he knows when a restaurant is leaving money on the table by not charging enough, or when a restaurant took the prices too high and caused a downturn in traffic and a drop in profits. Then he can adjust the prices quickly. A the end of the day, all adjustments are based on guest behavior. “The consumer always wins.”

DON’T be afraid to raise your prices.
According to Tom, three out of four restaurants in the U.S. are underpriced. Instead of charging what they should to make a profit, restaurant owners and managers commit to hiring less staff than they need and, as a result, give poor service. That causes a negative spiral of drops in profits.

As a rule, it’s generally a bad decision to keep prices down and deliver a lesser service; it’s better to move the margin and give the consumer exactly what they want, the way they want it.

DO adjust your food cost along with labor cost.
Labor costs are higher than they used to be, so your food cost needs to change, too. The previously accepted wisdom of 33 1/3% food cost for a restaurant no longer stands. Tom advises to aim for a 26-27% food cost for a truly profitable restaurant.

“If you’re over 30% you’re going to end up breaking even or losing money,” he says.

DON’T assume all guests are equally price sensitive.
Statistically, if you grew up worrying about money, you are probably price sensitive. People who can remember the Depression or the Eisenhower administration tend to be more sensitive to prices than those who can’t, regardless of how much money they currently have.

By comparison, younger generations (such as millenials) are much less price sensitive. They are prepared to pay a premium, but they have extremely high standards on everything from sourcing to service.”You have to be much more professional in your culinary delivery to speak to this generation of people,” says Tom. Tailor your menu and hospitality to the guests you serve.

DO see where you can raise prices without negatively impacting traffic.
Let’s say the price of beef goes up. Many restaurant owners will immediately raise the price of their beef dishes to compensate, but a better course of action is to see where else you can raise prices on your menu that won’t cut into traffic and sales. Here’s how it works:

Look at your top-performing items to see where you’re making the most money. In general, 15% of your menu will yield 65-80% of your cash flow.

Ask: are those items price sensitive? In the history of those items, when you last changed the price, did the demand stay the same or go down? If the same number of people buy it either way, it’s not price sensitive.

If two items trade with each other and are both very sensitive, you might lower the higher-priced item and bump the lower-priced item so people will trade up to the better-margin item. That can result in a huge change in profits.

DON’T put higher prices on a menu unnecessarily.
Sometimes in restaurants that have bars, the price for a drink at the bar includes the tax while the price for the same drink at the table does not. The consumer will always think the one with the lower price is the better value.

“It’s usually a good idea to put the lowest number you can up there,” says Tom.

“Don’t put the price of the tax imbedded, because the consumer doesn’t give you credit for supporting the federal government or the local state government.”

Similarly, you never want to list a high-priced item on your menu that isn’t popular. On a menu where the average entree costs $15, a $30 tripe dish will actually cause people to be less happy with the overall value of the restaurant. Even though they didn’t order it and it had no real impact on them, seeing it will negatively impact how they feel about their experience. Only have high-priced items that really move.

DO understand the importance of good service.
For the most part, people don’t really know what they spend in a restaurant.

According to Tom, guests aren’t aware of how much they spend in a restaurant plus or minus about 18%. They do know whether they will go back to the restaurant. “They have a strong feeling for the value of what they spend, but not an economic feeling,” he says.

“When people go back to a restaurant it’s because they really like the food, and when people don’t go back it’s usually outweighed by poor service,” says Tom.

A service staff that doesn’t perform up to standard will negatively impact your business. For example, in a quick-service restaurant, the number one way to drive more sales is to open another register. People simply don’t want to wait in line for long.

“I think the crisis of the restaurant industry is the inability to provide serious professional service, particularly in North America,” says Tom. “The quality of the culinary team in the kitchen is excellent, but we don’t have excellent service teams. The people who normally are servers are a small percentage of the population, and they’re not trained as well nor do they have a proclivity for it.”

DO know you have to be better than ever before.
The restaurant industry is more competitive than ever before, and you need more than good food to be successful. The demand for great dining experiences is outstanding and continues to grow. From an economic point of view worldwide, the high consumption generation for restaurants is going to be the Baby Boomer retiring, Tom says.

“It used to be that if hot food were hot and cold foods were cold and the service was accurate, that was all you needed,” he adds. “That’s not true anymore. Now you’ve got to be noticeably better.”

Stick to the spec #

Substituting cheaper kit is undermining the catering equipment supply chain network, warns CESA

CESA is raising the thorny issue of sticking to the specification. The Association says that several of its members have complained that projects they have worked on are having cheaper equipment substituted, after the specifications have been set, in order to save money and maintain margins. Often the changes are made with little or no consultation with the customer or specifier, let alone the equipment supplier.

“If the equipment is chosen because it’s right for the job, then that should be the end of the matter,” says Simon Frost, chair of CESA. “Operators who end up with substituted, substandard equipment will not thank the project managers.”

According to CESA, substituting cheaper kit will mean it could be less efficient, have less capacity and potentially a shorter life span than the originally specified equipment. That obviously has an impact on running and maintenance costs as well as the environment.

“Then there’s the simple matter of fairness. In many cases, the manufacturers and suppliers of the equipment that was originally specified work long hours with customers, consultants and installers to help get the project realised – only to see their sale disappear and hard work come to nothing.”

However, there is an even more fundamental problem that the substitute equipment raises – it is undermining the trust on which the supply chain works.

“In recent years there has been a powerful move towards cooperation between manufacturers, distributors, installers, designers and consultants,” says Simon. “That cooperation has been a huge benefit to the whole industry – including the customers. This trend towards substituting cheaper equipment is undermining all that good work, because it is destroying the trust that has been built up between the various elements of the supply chain.”

A solid performance in first-half 2014-2015 #

Elior released its results for the first half of FY 2014-2015, corresponding to the six months ended March 31, 2015.

 Revenue growth of 5.6%
 EBITDA up by 4.3%
 Net profit for the period multiplied by 1.9
 Outlook for the full year confirmed

Commenting on these results, Philippe Salle – Elior's new
chairman and chief Executive Officer – stated: "The Group's first-half performance was in line with our forecasts with organic growth at 2.8% and EBITDA margin slightly down year-on-year. For the second quarter we saw sustained business development despite our more selective approach to contracts (particularly in Italy), with solid organic growth of 2.2% and a slight year-on-year increase in EBITDA margin. In the first six months of 2014-2015 we continued to seize numerous growth opportunities in our various markets while keeping tight control over costs. We expect our business momentum to be strong in the second half of 2014-2015, thanks to the favorable impacts of the cost efficiency plans put in place in late 2014 and the ramp-up of new concessions during the high season. We are confident that we will be able to meet our full-year targets and our bottom line will be boosted by the positive effects of the accretive refinancing operations we have carried out since the beginning of the fiscal year.”

Elior UK celebrates Exchange Quay contract win #

Elior UK has been awarded a five-year contract to create and manage a new food and retail offer at Hunter Real Estate Investment Managers’ (Hunter) Exchange Quay development in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester.

The project at the 433,637 sq ft office complex is part of a wider, £10m refurbishment programme to upgrade the six office buildings at the site to Grade A specification.

Elior is working with Exchange Quay’s project team to develop new catering and hospitality facilities including a restaurant with live cooking theatre, a Costa Coffee branded coffee outlet and a Londis Retail Shop at the development. As part of its contract Elior will also provide a hospitality service to Exchange Quay, which will cater for meetings, events and functions.

All of Elior UK’s catering concepts will be available at the onsite restaurant including Heavenly Burger, build-your-own soup offer Umami and ChU*, its world cuisine brand.

Andrew Moffat, fund manager at Hunter, said: “We chose Elior to manage the new amenity offering due to the team’s strong track record and its understanding of what we are striving to create at Exchange Quay. Work is well underway to create the high quality office accommodation. It’s exciting to be working up the plans for the new food and retail offer and to see how another key element of the development is progressing.”

Tony Winterbottom, sales director, at Elior UK, added: “We’re delighted to be working with the Exchange Quay team on this high profile development, as part of its revival. The new catering and retail amenities will introduce a host of modern facilities for occupiers and visitors to enjoy.”

The full works at Exchange Quay are due to be completed in Q3 2015.

Current business tenants at Exchange Quay include Winning Pitch, Kin-Tec Electronics and Sage, while GlaxoSmithkline Research & Development (GSK) and Boxchange Associates have recently signed five-year leases.

Elior UK recognised for ‘Making a Difference’ to the lives of young disabled people in Surrey #

Elior UK is celebrating after its Kingston University team was officially recognised by Surrey Choices for supporting young, disabled people living in the county. It won the ‘Making a Difference’ award for taking part in Surrey Choices’ Employment Works’ work experience programme and offering placements to young people with disabilities.

Elior UK operates 14 outlets across four sites at Kingston University and also provides hospitality and vending services. It has taken part in Surrey Choices’ EmployAbility initiative since its launch two years ago and provides 12 month work experience placements for two students each year. One of the students that participated in the programme was offered a full time job and began working for Elior UK as a general assistant in September 2014.

Nicky Harding, Surrey Choices employment development officer, said: “We’ve given Elior this award because it has proved to be a forward thinking and inclusive employer. The work placements it has offered to young people have proved to be a huge success for Elior, EmployAbility and, most importantly, the students that have taken part.

“We’ve now worked with the team at Kingston University for two years and they have always encouraged and supported our students on the programme, even offering one of them a full time paid job.”

Oliver Garett, group manager, Elior UK, Kingston University, said: “EmployAbility is a fantastic scheme that has worked really well for us and we’re proud to play a role in helping young, disabled people. The students we have worked with have made a great contribution and we’ve enjoyed working with them.”

“I’d also like to highlight the fantastic work that our Elior UK team members Alain Bastel, Hajnalka Kinczel and Ashley Webb are carrying out in terms of managing the day to day development and overseeing of the placement students.”

The students work at the University’s Penrhyn site and help its team on the shop floor. The contract caterer now plans to expand its work with EmployAbility by offering additional work experience placements at a second site.

Open milk jugs could sour profits reveals new research #

When it comes to tea and coffee out-of-home, hygiene is the biggest driver for consumers opting for mini pots over open milk jugs. With new research revealing that nearly 60% of consumers have concerns over how long milk has been left out, if the milk jug has been contaminated or whether the jug has been cleaned properly.

This new research, commissioned by Pritchitts – the dairy solutions provider – lifts the lid on consumer perceptions and operator usage when it comes to the white stuff.  Of those asked, 68% of caterers believe mini pots the most hygienic way to serve milk with hot drinks and over half use mini pots because they are more convenient.

The research also revealed that four out of five caterers asked, currently using open milk jugs, throw away up to 730 litres of milk every year! Add to this that 91% of consumers said they would be unsure about visiting an establishment if they came across negative comments about milk jug cleanliness and your bottom line could take a real hit. 

Simon Muschamp, head of marketing, Pritchitts comments: “If you consider the cost of the milk thrown away when using open milk jugs, the contamination risks, plus consumer concern over cleanliness, it is no surprise that mini pots are the first choice for hot drink catering out-of-home. That’s why we are calling on caterers not to let milk jugs sour their profits, chuck the jug and consider the big benefits mini pots can bring to an operation.”

Pritchitts’ peel-and-pour, one-cup Millac Maid Mini Pots are easy to open, easy to store, have a long shelf-life and minimise wastage through perfect portion control. The sealed pots provide a convenient and hygienic way of serving hot drinks front-of-house, and are the fail-safe solution when it comes to delivering taste and quality.

Simon adds: “As well as a host of operational benefits, we know from independent research and blind taste tests that tea made using Half Fat Millac Maid tastes just like tea with fresh, semi-skimmed milk*. In support of improving operational hygiene and efficiency but without effecting flavour, we’re giving away free samples containing 50 Millac Maid Mini Pots – 78% of caterers who previously used open milk jugs have already discovered the benefits so claim your free box today!”

Pritchitts has created a useful infographic to share the findings and highlight why operators should chuck the jug.

*300 consumers, Toluna Survey, April 2015 + 150 caterers surveyed April 2015 ^ At Leatherhead Food Research facilities, consumers tested both tea with Half Fat Millac Maid and tea with pasteurised semi-skimmed milk. Results show that an equal number of consumers believed that tea with Millac Maid tasted like tea with fresh milk.

Claim your free Millac Maid sample at 

Casual Dining wins Best Trade Show award for a second year! #

Diversified Communications UK’s Casual Dining show – the award winning trade event for the UK’s multiple restaurant and pub group sector, has won ‘Best Tradeshow Exhibition under 2,000sq.m’ at the AEO Awards for a second time in its first two years of business. 

The Association of Event Organisers’ Excellence awards ceremony, widely regarded as the ‘Oscars’ for the live events and exhibition industry, hosted over 1000 event industry professionals at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London's Mayfair on 26 June. Facing tough competition, Casual Dining defended its title for a second consecutive year over fellow finalists, including The Surface Design Show, ScotHot, UTECH North America, PayExpo 2014, Travel Technology Europe, and The Meetings Show. 

Having already won widespread support from across the casual dining sector and exhibitors, the AEO’s judges were impressed by the show’s “excellent content programme and exhibition design and layout”, commenting that Diversified UK “identified a clear gap in the market for the fast emerging casual dining sector, a sector focused on innovation and brand.”

“To have the honour of Casual Dining winning Best Trade Show for its launch event last year was incredible,” says group event director Chris Brazier. “The fact that Casual Dining has won again – that’s twice in our first two years – is a fantastic achievement for the show.  A big thank you must go to the whole industry, including our exhibitors, visitors, media and association partners for supporting the show from the very beginning and helping to make Casual Dining the show that this important sector truly deserves.”

“A special mention must go to the amazing team here at Diversified UK, who have worked so hard to deliver a much respected, sector defining event in such a short space of time,” he says.

“To win this award for a second consecutive year really is a wonderful endorsement for the show,” adds marketing manager Nina Jones.  “It’s also a great recognition of the impact that Casual Dining has made within the industry in its first two years.”

With over 150 exhibiting companies and over 3600 visitors in 2015, Casual Dining’s rapid expansion mirrors the growing success of the UK’s £6.9bn casual dining market. This strong market performance, combined with glowing testimonials from attendees, has seen increasing demand from new companies looking to exhibit in 2016.  Among them are Moy Park, Twinings, Innovate Foods, Pipers Crisps, Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines, Innis & Gunn, and Jascots Wine Merchants.

Since the success of the 2015 show in February, which saw 75% of exhibiting companies rebook onsite, stands have been selling at a record rate, with returning big names like Britvic Soft Drinks, Reynolds, Lamb Weston, Farm Frites, Fresh Direct, Unox UK, AAK, Magrini and Tudor Tea & Coffee confirmed.  Eight months ahead of its highly anticipated third show, the Ground and Mezzanine Levels are sold out.  Whilst the Upper Feature Level, the new home of the Casual Dining Keynote Theatre and Casual Dining Design Awards Gallery, has only limited stands left. The show is already 85% sold out.

Casual Dining will return to the Business Design Centre, Islington, London, on 24-25 February 2016.  

New Commercial Kitchen show to launch at the NEC in 2016 #

Diversified Communications UK, organisers of the highly successful, multi-awarding winning Casual Dining and lunch! events, has announced the launch of Commercial Kitchen – a major new trade show for the UK’s £1bn catering equipment sector. 

The latest addition to Diversified UK’s growing trade show portfolio, Commercial Kitchen will take place at the NEC Birmingham on 7-8 June 2016.

The launch follows an extensive consultation process with leading industry suppliers, distributors and operators, who have helped develop the concept.  The result is a uniquely positioned, dedicated catering equipment trade show designed to accommodate all of the many vertical sectors served by the commercial kitchen industry – including (but not limited to) restaurants and pubs, casual dining chains, fine dining and Michelin-Star restaurants, hotels, schools, universities, hospitals, prisons, food-to-go, supermarkets, leisure attractions and venues, and install companies. 

Thanks to increasing consumer confidence and spending, the multi-billion foodservice market is now poised for further expansion.  Insights firm Horizons are predicting the market to rise a further £10bn to over £56bn by 2019; whilst The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), who already reported 1,000 new restaurant openings in 2014, are forecasting much the same for 2015.  And it is this growth – across multiple sectors – that is helping to feed the demand for fresh and innovative catering equipment.

With the tag line ‘Equipment for kitchens that work’, the event will combine a trade exhibition of 100 hand-picked companies with a high profile seminar and keynote programme.  Founding exhibitors will be showcasing the complete range of innovative equipment, devices and utensils required to run a commercial kitchen; including cooking equipment, refrigeration, storage, warewashing, fit out and design.

The definitive new event for the catering equipment industry, the launch announcement has already received overwhelming support from many leading suppliers, including Adande Refrigeration, Gram (UK), Manitowoc Foodservice UK, Electrolux Professional, Gamble Food Service Solutions, Nelson Glass & Dishwashing Machines, and Rational. 

“Gram is delighted to be supporting a clearly focused capital equipment event that gives us an ideal platform to meet prospective purchasers across the independent and group marketplace,” says Glenn Roberts, managing director of Gram (UK).

“Commercial Kitchen is a fantastic concept and provides the market with a needed pure equipment focused show,” says Julie Fell, marketing manager at Electrolux Professional.

“After enjoying the huge success of being part of Diversified’s Casual Dining show, there was no way we could turn down the opportunity to be part of a tailored trade event such as Commercial Kitchen!  It’s fresh and it is exciting and we will be there!” says Mike O'Keeffe, sales director at Gamble Food Service Solutions.

“It’s great to have a show for exactly what we do and for the exact buyers that we want to do business with.  We want to access the whole market and the launch of Commercial Kitchen will allow us to do that,” says Allan Turpin, national account manager at Nelson Glass & Dishwashing Machines.

“We are very excited to be participating at the new Commercial Kitchen exhibition.  A dedicated event of this type, for the catering industry, where heavy equipment suppliers can showcase their latest products is something we firmly believe the market needs,” says Melissa Pereira, UK key account director at Rational.

Commenting on the launch, Chris Brazier, group event director of Commercial Kitchen, says:  “Like the best things in life, it’s a simple yet very compelling idea.  For the first time, Commercial Kitchen will bring together senior decision makers and buyers from all the relevant sectors to do business with the most innovative catering equipment exhibitors in a focused business environment.”

Commercial Kitchen is organised by Diversified Communications, who have a growing portfolio of successful events in the food sector.  Among them are lunch! (winner of three best trade show awards) and Casual Dining, which, just last week, was again named ‘Best Tradeshow Exhibition under 2,000sq.m’ at the Association of Event Organisers’ Excellence Awards for the second year running (it only launched in 2014). 

Commercial Kitchen will launch at the NEC in Birmingham on 7-8 June 2016. 

Gram’s Go Green Debate heats up for the second time #

Thursday 25 June saw Gram’s latest panel of experts take to the stage to discuss the benefits of operational efficiencies within foodservice outlets as Gram’s Go Green Debate live streamed its second webinar in the series.

The four strong panel including, Andrew Fishwick, owner of The Truscott Arms, Mark Linehan, managing director at the Sustainable Restaurant Association, the Carbon Trust’s director of implementation Myles McCarthy, and panel chair Glenn Roberts managing director, Gram UK, settled down for an hour long debate with the aim of helping operators understand the tax incentives and schemes available to businesses looking to implement sustainable practices. 

The debate aimed to shed light on what businesses can do to become more operationally efficient by introducing sustainable initiatives, and how this can have a positive impact on their business success. With many operators completely unaware of government incentives to become more sustainable and the tax benefits available, the panel provided guidance to those who felt in the dark.

The panel of industry experts raised a range of compelling points including restaurateur Andrew Fishwick’s admission that when procuring equipment for The Truscott Arms he “had no knowledge of the government-funded tax incentive schemes” and that he strongly believes that incentive schemes should be made much more accessible. Despite trying to make informed choices he is conscious that there is a need for more transparency and a clearer rating system, such as ABC ratings in the domestic market.

Myles McCarthy from the Carbon Trust highlighted the importance of the ETL (Energy Technology List) which gives a standardised criteria for equipment listed to perform against, and an opportunity for operators to research equipment that can benefit from tax breaks and incentive schemes.

SRA’s (Sustainable Restaurant Association) managing director Mark Linehan raised a interesting point that “sustainable restaurant businesses are cheaper to insure” meaning that those implementing green practices further reduce their overheads.

Previous Go Green Debate panellist Cyrus Todiwala challenged the panel to respond to his question on how independent operators don’t have the time or energy to chase tax rebates, so why can’t tax breaks be incorporated in capital investment at point of purchase?

A multi-layered question, the panel all agreed that the current system does not make it easy for tax breaks to be incorporated at the point of purchase, but that the supply chain does need to bear the responsibility for sustainability in the industry.

The final webinar will be held on 24 September, and will look ahead to the future of foodservice, analysing the trends which will shape the green initiatives being implemented in the industry, and highlighting the key issues that will need to be tackled for sustainable progression to occur.

Taking a look at topics such as the advancements in energy efficient technology, to choosing sustainable suppliers, the webinar will underline the importance of the whole supply chain's engagement, to work collaboratively to create a more sustainable future for the sector.

The culmination of The Go Green Debate will be a free to attend half-day summit at The Charlotte Street Hotel on 20 October, exclusively open to those responsible for the procurement of catering equipment.

To watch the webinar back, go to

Gram’s latest recruit passes CFSP exam #

Gram’s Account Manager for Scotland and Ireland, David Nisbet is the latest member of the expert sales team to pass the industry renowned Certified Food Service Professional (CFSP) exam.

The accreditation, which is recognised throughout the foodservice industry, is an initiative implemented by CESA (Catering Equipment Suppliers Association) to raise industry standards in terms of knowledge and experience across the foodservice arena.

Achieving the accreditation is no easy feat as candidates have to demonstrate their understanding of the industry through a range of tests including a comprehensive written assessment as well as compulsory attendance at a full day seminar. Candidates must also have a minimum of three years management experience in the foodservice and show continued dedication to the industry by exhibiting a portfolio of completed recognised education and training programmes.

Gram is proud that the whole of its sales team must complete the accreditation, which demonstrates its ongoing commitment to providing its staff with quality training and subsequently offering its customers a knowledgeable and highly trained sales team.

David Nisbet comments: “I’m really looking forward to putting into practice the elements that I learnt from undertaking the CFSP and continue to build my industry knowledge.”

Glenn Roberts, managing director at Gram UK comments: “It is really important that all our staff are trained to the highest quality. This is an ethos that we have in place throughout the careers of our employees. The importance of training really can’t be underestimated, the industry is always moving forward and we need to ensure that our staff can call on the latest information to guarantee our customers get the very best from us.

KNORR’s gluten-free Thunderclap raises £2,000 for Coeliac UK #

KNORR® gluten-free gravy donated £2,000 to Coeliac UK after its Thunderclap campaign drummed up the support of more than 1,000 chefs and foodservice professionals.

Supported by top industry names, the Thunderclap kicked off KNORR gravy’s wider gluten-free campaign. Brian Turner, Mark Sargeant and Willie Pike all pledged their support during Coeliac UK Awareness Week to highlight the issue within the industry.

Top chef and gluten-free expert Phil Vickery is also backing KNORR’s campaign. Throughout June and July the gluten-free champion is hosting a series of KNORR gluten-free masterclasses for operators.

Leon Mills, KNORR sauces category manager, said: “According to Coeliac UK, 1 in 100 people in the UK are living with coeliac disease (1),  but our research shows over a quarter of operators don’t have gluten-free dishes on their menus (2).  This represents a huge opportunity operators are missing out on.

“We’ve teamed up with Phil Vickery to create gluten-free guides for operators. We’re also hosting masterclasses to offer practical advice, demonstrate gluten-free recipes and answer questions from chefs.”

Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK said: “Eating out with confidence is really important for people with coeliac disease, as a strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment for people with the condition. We have worked alongside the catering industry for many years providing training and accreditation for the safe provision of gluten-free food. The Thunderclap was an innovative way to spread the word about coeliac disease and the ‘is it coeliac disease’ campaign through KNORR’s extensive network and we appreciate their very generous donation to the charity.”

Thunderclap allows a single message to be mass-shared at one time so it rises above the noise of social networks. KNORR’s ‘support gluten-free’ message was blasted across Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr on 13 May, right in the middle of Coeliac UK Awareness Week.

1. Coeliac UK (statistic from Bingley et al., Bristol, 2004)
2. 28% of operators don’t have gluten-free dishes on their menu. Dewberry Redpoint survey, commissioned by KNORR, n=1,262 chefs and caterers (May 2015)

lunch! 2015: Visitor registration opens for biggest ever show #

Greggs’ CEO Roger Whiteside confirmed for exclusive Keynote Q&A at lunch! 2015

Top buyers from EAT, Tesco, Waitrose, Superdrug, British Airways, IKEA, Brakes, Elior, Baxterstorey, Sodexo, and Gate Retail Onboard, are among the who’s who of buyers that have already pre-registered to attend lunch! 2015, which returns to the Business Design Centre in London on 24-25 September. 

Now in its eighth year and firmly established as the leading trade event for the UK’s £6.9bn food-to-go market, lunch’s pivotal focus on innovation has made it a popular choice with buying teams from many of the country’s biggest food-to-go operators, including supermarkets, multiples, contract caterers, wholesalers, distributors, travel caterers, cafés, coffee shops, and sandwich shops.

Thanks to glowing testimonials and a significant 44% increase in attendees in the last two years, the 2015 edition will be the biggest lunch! yet.  To accommodate growing demand from a raft of new food, drink, packaging, technology, and equipment suppliers looking to reach this important market, a 25% increase in stands has expanded the show into an additional new hall on the Upper Feature Level – taking the total to an unprecedented 350 exhibiting companies.  Over 6,500 key buyers and decision makers are set to join them, when doors open in just over three months’ time.

“Once again, the high demand for stand space at the show reflects the ever growing popularity of the food-to-go sector,” says group event director Chris Brazier.  “Rebooking for lunch! 2015 smashed all previous records, leading to the show’s ground floor selling out in December, followed by the Middle Level in January, and the Innovation Zone in February.  Even with the addition of a new hall, the show is on track to be sold out within a matter of weeks.  It’s a testament to the show’s continuing success – and demonstrates just how important and essential lunch! has become to suppliers and buyers looking to do business. ”

“With food-to-go going from strength to strength as a breakfast and lunch occasion, it is great to be able to come to a show with this at its core.  I would recommend anyone involved in this sector to make a date with lunch! 2015,” says Red Kitching, category buying manager, Aramark.

“I recommend lunch! to anyone in the food-to-go sector.  It’s a fantastic chance to discover innovation and trends in our industry.” Kate Skerritt, director of business development/co-founder, POD.

“2014 was my first visit to lunch! and I can see why it is so popular.  It gave me the chance to see existing suppliers and meet new ones, along with seeing what innovation is coming up in the market.” Theo Thomas, director of operations UK at Esquires Coffee.

What’s new for 2015?
Given the breadth and number of exhibitors on offer at lunch!, it’s perhaps no surprise that the word ‘innovation’ is frequently cited as the biggest selling point of the show.  Since its launch in 2008, it’s been helping buyers to stay one step ahead of their competition with all the latest new trends and suppliers.  And 2015 promises more of the same. 

The initial exhibitor list, which includes Cawston Press, Chi Drinks, Coca Cola, Coveris, Frobishers, Lick, Metcalfe’s Food Co, Pipers Crisps, Raynor Foods, Simple Simon Foods, Taylors of Harrogate, Tri-star Packaging, UCC Coffee and Unilever (Tea Fusion), is available at  

The show’s new hall on the Upper Feature Level will be home to the Innovation Challenge Showcase, VIP Lounge, new Artisan Ingredients Village, and new Menu Innovation Theatre (sponsored by Magrini).  It will host the popular live finals of the annual British Smoothie Championships (also sponsored by Magrini), the Café Life Awards heats, and an exciting new series of coffee, smoothie, tea and juice master classes lead by industry experts. 

Over 60 companies will also be exhibiting in this new area.  Among them are returning names like ELLER foodPackaging, Heavenly Cakes, Farsan, and Ginger Bakers.  Whilst new exhibitors include New York Bakery Co, Euro Food Brands, Marston Foods, James White Drinks, Goodness Brands, George Skoulikas, TM Electronics, Two Chicks, White Rabbit Pizza, Emily Fruit Crisps, Pullins Bakers, Pizza Cones, and Devonvale Bakers.

Country Choice, Foster Refrigerator, Gino Gelato, Tetley, Twinings, WMF UK, and Oli & Zoe's Food Co (which launched the UK's first healthy popcorn for children earlier this year) are just some of the other new exhibitors preparing to make their lunch! debut.

Big name keynotes in the Working lunch! Theatre
The Working lunch! Theatre also boasts a new home for 2015.  Although still on the Upper Feature Level, it’s new position enables it to cater for a significantly bigger audience.  Running throughout the two day show, the free business seminars are renowned for attracting a host of high-profile brands and industry leaders from across the food-to-go retailing and contract catering industry.  The first headline Keynote to be announced for this year, is a Q&A with Roger Whiteside, CEO of bakery and food-to-go giant Greggs.

The former chief executive of Punch Taverns and the Thresher Group, and one of the founding team of Ocado, Whiteside will be sharing exclusive insights from his long and impressive career.  From starting out at Marks & Spencer, where he spent 20 years and became head of its food business, through to the re-positioning of Greggs as a major player in the healthy food-to-go market – it has all the ingredients for a must attend session. 

The full Working lunch! Theatre programme will be unveiled over the next few months, with senior directors from EAT., Pret A Manger, M&S, Subway and Starbucks set to be announced. 

Save the date for lunch! 2015
“Overflowing with fresh ideas and interesting concepts – lunch! is always in my calendar,” says Richard Brownlie-Marshall, head of creative at Tossed.

lunch! – the multi-award-winning trade event for the food-to-go industry, returns to the Business Design Centre in Islington, London, on Thursday and Friday, 24-25 September 2015.  For further information and to book a free trade pass in advance, please visit and quote priority code PR1 (direct link:

Amex scores a hat trick #

A team at one of the sporting world’s newest stadia has won a hat trick of industry awards.

Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events, which manages catering and events at the Amex Stadium, home to Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club, was one of the biggest winners of the night at the prestigious Stadium Events and Hospitality Awards 2015.

It not only saw off competition from stadia across the UK to be named the winner of the Media Choice award, voted for by members of the press attending matches, but also scooped the silver award in the Conference and Events Sales and Marketing Category.

To round off a trio of wins, the Sodexo team won the bronze award in the Directors Choice category after impressing the boards of directors of clubs visiting the stadia for away matches.

The awards celebrate the hard work and dedication that make stadia events and hospitality run seamlessly and the winners were announced at a gala dinner at the King Power Stadium, home of Leicester City Football Club.

Kathy Taylor, sales and marketing manager for Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events at the stadium, said: "We are overjoyed to win three major awards at one of our industry’s biggest annual events.

“This is testament to the hard work, dedication and commitment of our entire team and rounds off a hugely successful 12 months here at the Amex Stadium.”

Among Sodexo Prestige’s other successes on the night were wins at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park, which lifted the Operations Team of the Year award and at Everton’s Goodison Park, where Sodexo staff member Anna Carmichael was named Star of the Future.

Scotland’s national football stadium, Hampden Park, in Glasgow, also picked up prizes, coming second in the Large Stadia Category of the prestigious Matchday Hospitality Award and voted third overall in a list of 55 UK football and ruby stadia.

UCC Coffee UK & Ireland revealed on-the-go must haves at AVEX International #

UCC Coffee UK & Ireland showcased its quality coffee, equipment and service capabilities at AVEX International to help vending operators increase sales and tap into the growing demand for quality takeaway coffee.

Taking place at Manchester Central, the coffee specialists showcased the latest in bean to cup technology from Eversys, which offers intuitive machinery and easy programming for consistent quality coffee and exceptional milk preparation. As the largest coffee roaster by volume in the UK, the team served premium single origin and blends from its ThreeSixty˚ range.

Bradley Journet-Robins, regional business manager, UCC Coffee UK & Ireland comments: “Demand for quality coffee continues to drive the growth of the UK coffee market and this is key for vending operators to tap into, as more consumers choose coffee on-the-go. 30% of customers are buying coffee to takeaway and two billion cups of coffee served out of home each year, so it is hot stuff right now. Serving a quality coffee will set you apart from the competition, so we challenge you to stop by our stand and find out how we can help you do it.”

Also featured on stand were two top of the range pieces of espresso equipment the Victoria Arduino Aurelia T3 espresso machine and the Nuova Simonelli Mythos One grinder (the UK Barista Championship grinder).

Two hands on masterclasses, covering the latest filter trends, coffee characteristics and how to get the ‘romance’ of coffee at the touch of a button with the latest bean to cup steam wand technology, also took place at Speakers Corner in the main exhibition area.

Has instant coffee had its day? #

New research has revealed that over a third of consumers are drinking less instant coffee at home than last year as they increasingly turn to alternative brew methods, such as cafetiéres  and filters. 

The survey of 1,000 consumers by UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, the total coffee solution provider, found that two in three of consumers now purchase fresh roast and ground coffee with 44% choosing a cafetiére and 22% a filter to make their brew. Capsules are also becoming the norm, with one quarter of consumers saying they have a pod machine at home. 

Phil Smith, head of category and insight, UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, comments: “With the coffee scene going from strength to strength, more people are looking to replicate what they enjoy on the high street in their own home. Our research indicates that consumers’ are open to exploring different coffees and willing to pay more for a quality coffee. And, with an abundance of artisan coffee shops and bars serving premium coffee through innovative filtering methods, including V60 or chemex, consumers are gaining confidence and experimenting with different brew methods for themselves.

“It’s evident that the nation is embracing the growing trend for the theatre of filter coffee¬ – but one size doesn’t fit all! The coffee shop market has an estimated turnover of £7.2 billion (1), but still growing so, the shift in consumers’ favourite brews presents a big opportunity for retailers to offer a wider range of blends and single origins as well as equipment to serve it through. Creating regular promotions will also appeal to younger drinkers whose choice of coffee is heavily influenced by price promotions.”

Other results revealed regional taste differences, with Londoners opting for espresso at home, and instant coffee and capsules are most popular in the East of England.

The most important factors consumers consider when purchasing coffee is taste, quality and price.

The research of 1,112 UK consumers was conducted by Allegra Insight in April 2015 on behalf of UCC Coffee UK & Ireland.

UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, the total coffee solution provider, offers a range of branded and own-label coffee and equipment for at home, retail and foodservice.

1 Allegra Strategies Project Café 15 UK - The total UK coffee shop market is estimated at £7.2 billion turnover in 2014.

Adande® and Gamble Retail Solutions team up to deliver hot food profit pods #

Foodservice refrigeration specialist, Adande®, has linked up with equipment provider, Gamble Retail Solutions, to offer a range of hot food workstations. Designed as integrated solutions for the storage, cooking and service of hot food to go, the units are suitable for supermarkets, convenience stores, forecourt outlets, quick service restaurants, sports’ stadia, the leisure sector and any environment where there is a requirement for the fast service of quality hot food.

Described by Adande® sales director, Karl Hodgson, as a foodservice profit pod, the units have a compact footprint of just 1100 mm width by 700 mm depth, making them ideal for operations with limited floor space. The cost of the workstation is less than £13,750, meaning that a complete 3 m x 3 m foodservice station, including shop fitting, can be put together for less than £18,000. Based on profits of just £35 per day, payback on the investment is achieved in less than eighteen months. Further profit opportunities are available by adding associated foodservice equipment, such as hot drink machines and chilled food displays, especially in high traffic areas.

Typically, the workstations comprise a Gamble Ovention Matchbox 1313 oven, conveniently mounted on an Adande® two drawer refrigerator. The ability to set the temperature of the Adande® drawers, through a range from +15oC to -22oC at the push of button, provides storage versatility, allowing operators hold chilled or frozen food to meet changes in demand and menu. The large capacity and stable holding temperatures of the Adande® also allow large volumes of food to be held conveniently at the point of service, over extended periods, without compromise to product quality or appearance.

The Ovention Matchbox 1313 oven uses revolutionary precision impingement technology, delivering over twice the volume of hot air and better air concentration than conventional conveyor ovens for speed and cooked food quality. The oven features two cooking surfaces, which load at the tap of a touchpad, allowing the preloading of one batch, whilst the other is cooking. There is also an automatic unload function to prevent overcooking. The controller can accommodate up to 1000 pre programmed cooking settings, each with three stages and two events, for optimum management of cooking time, temperature and independent blower speeds, eliminating the need for skilled foodservice operatives.

Food is cooked in a closed cavity with multiple catalytic converters, breaking down grease into moist hot air, which is used in the cooking process for improved quality and healthier food. The catalytic converters also clean the oven’s exhaust air, eliminating the need for costly and often inconvenient extraction hoods.

The oven may be used for cooking, baking, broiling, grilling a wide range of food, from chilled or frozen, including croissants, pizzas, paninis, toasties, steaks, burgers, pies, pasties, chicken wings, chips, omelettes and even a full English breakfast. Speed of service is another advantage of the Ovention oven; it can cook a steak in 3 minutes, a pizza in 2 minutes 30 seconds and a full English breakfast in 3 minutes and 40 seconds.

Scott Taylor, business development manager, Gamble Retail Solutions, stated:
“The combination of the Adande® drawer unit and our Ovention Matchbox oven, provides an ideal foodservice solution for fast food operators, allowing them to deliver an all day hot food offer of the highest quality. The workstations occupy a limited footprint, require a relatively small capital outlay with minimal running costs and can be operated by unskilled operatives, creating very attractive profit opportunities in a wide variety of foodservice environments.”

Setting the record straight on refrigeration #

“There is considerable confusion in the industry, regarding the energy efficiency, temperature accuracy and performance of foodservice and food retailing refrigeration equipment. This uncertainty has been exacerbated by the introduction to the marketplace of copycat refrigerated drawer systems. These products purport to share the characteristics of Adande’s patented design, but none of them deliver the same unique insulated container ‘hold the cold’ technology.”

These are the challenging words of Adande’s sales director, Karl Hodgson, who believes that many refrigeration equipment manufacturers are selling their customers short when it comes to energy efficiency and performance claims. He cites product design, including runners mounted on the outside of drawers to eliminate the impact of moisture and freezing and high integrity robust horizontal seals as features that set the Adande apart from other refrigeration equipment. He also highlights the internal location of the condenser unit, which improves efficiency and reduces duty on the compressor, as a major benefit of the Adande design.

In an attempt to set the record straight, Adande commissioned an independent third party to compare the performance of its VCS1 single drawer model against a similar model from another manufacturer (model A). Adande also conducted in house tests, under climate class 4 conditions, comparing its VCS1 model with a major manufacturer’s refrigerated drawer system (model B). All products used in the trials, were brand new, ex factory models.

Trials with the fridges in chiller mode confirmed that the Adande used 55% less energy per year than model A and 73% less energy per year than model B. In freezer mode, the Adande used 46% less energy per year than model A and 63% less energy per year than model B. It was also noted that the Adande offered additional energy savings of 19% with the hydrocarbon refrigerant option, which is available at no extra cost.

In terms of stable and accurate holding temperatures, in chilled mode the warmest temperature measured in the Adande was 2.5oC above set point, whilst the warmest temperatures for models A and B were 11.8oC and 7.0oC above set point, respectively. When operating as freezers, the warmest temperature measured in the Adande was 4.9oC above set point, whilst the warmest temperatures were 14.7oC and 8.0oC above set point for models A and B, respectively.

All three models under test had a similar footprint, but the Adande scored well in terms of storage volume, with 11.8% more storage volume than model A and 46.5% more storage volume than model B.

Adande had previously undertaken trials, at Westminster Kingsway College, comparing an Adande refrigerated drawer unit with a conventional under counter door fridge in the storage of fresh fish, including haddock, salmon and prawns. The tests concluded that the Adande significantly outperformed its competitor in terms of prolonging the quality and appearance of the fish. The trials also established that the average weight loss, due to dehydration, of fish stored in the conventional fridge was 3.5 times higher than product held in the Adande. Taking into account the reduced yield from shrinkage and the wastage of inedible product, the monetary value of fish stored in the conventional fridge had been reduced by 33.6% at the end of the trial. By comparison, the reduction in monetary value of the fish stored in the Adande was just 1.5%.

A copy of Adande’s ‘Imitated, but never equalled’ literature, detailing comparisons with other fridge models, is available on request, as is the report on the Westminster Kingsway College fresh fish trials.

Strengthened leadership for IFE #

Fresh Montgomery confirmed a number of key appointments for IFE, the food & drink event, designed to build on the outstanding success of the 2015 show.

Soraya Gadelrab has been appointed event director for IFE, Pro2Pac and Waste-Works - which are collocated and run biennially at ExCeL. Soraya will also retain her event director’s role on Speciality & Fine Food Fair and Speciality Chocolate Fair, which she has led since 2009. With an extensive knowledge of both the food industry and the hospitality sector, Soraya has regularly judged some of the most prestigious awards in the sector including the Great Taste Awards, Q Awards and World Beverage Innovation Awards. This breadth of knowledge and experience will further enhance the already comprehensive appeal of each of these shows.

Additionally, James Murray returns to the Fresh Montgomery family and has been appointed as international sales director working across all key Fresh shows. The role is a new position for Fresh Montgomery and demonstrates a growing commitment to building the international exhibitor community still further. James will be supported in his role by Michael Fielding who takes up the role of international sales manager. Michael has been with Fresh Montgomery for five years and has already played an instrumental role in delivering a number of successful IFE events.

Chris McCuin, previously event director for IFE and IFEA, has been promoted to brand director for the wider IFE event portfolio. He retains his responsibilities as business development director across the Angus Montgomery group.

Toby Wand, Fresh Montgomery MD, said “Since Soraya joined Fresh nine years ago I have watched her develop into an exceptional leader and visionary. Soraya will bring enthusiasm, passion and new ideas to IFE, Pro2Pac and Waste-Works. With Chris as Brand Director; we are in the unique position of having continuity balanced with a renewed and reinvigorated approach to our market-leading shows.”

People 1st partners with hospitality big hitters to win futures funding for dual initiatives #

Workforce development charity People 1st partnered with some of the biggest names in the business including AccorHotels; Hilton Worldwide; Mitchells & Butlers, Whitbread and Rocco Forte Hotels to help boost career opportunities for low paid workers in the hospitality industry. 

With a labour turnover rate costing the sector £274m annually* the charity has helped secure funding from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) for two UK-wide projects focused on demonstrating career progression opportunities and helping businesses better engage and retain their staff.

Together People 1st, AccorHotels, Hilton Worldwide, Mitchells & Butlers and Whitbread plan to develop and test a benchmarking model, that they hope hospitality employers can use to increase staff retention and help transform career progression for the right candidates.

Simon Tarr, managing director of People 1st, said: “Currently 870,000 of the 993,000 people required by 2022 are to replace existing staff*.  The hospitality industry needs to attract and retain staff with the potential to progress – something which, at the moment, is just not happening. As much as the retention and skills deficit needs practical, workable solutions, it also requires partnership, which is why we’re delighted to be working with some leading lights to help affect change.”

Allied to this, the world-renowned Rocco Forte Hotels has secured funding to advance a ground-breaking new smartphone app, Map My Future, for which People 1st will supply the ‘career map’ functionality. Hailed as a revolution in HR practice, the app can chart all the possible vocational paths beyond an employee’s current role, as well as the requisite training needed for progression. Users can also set career goals, access relevant training content and receive job advice from career coaches 24 hours a day. Crucially, learning time is flexible meaning that employees are not constrained by the time limits of their current role.

Simon adds “Our Career Map has already proven to be highly beneficial in demonstrating the excellent career pathways available and aiding career planning. We are particularly delighted to be working with Rocco Forte Hotels to make it even more accessible via a mobile app – a particularly important development given the growth of smartphone and tablet use.”   

Set up in 2014 by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, the UK Futures Programme encourages investment in UK skills and workforce development, inviting firms to create and pitch innovative projects that will benefit employees, in return for funding.

People 1st will be working collaboratively with AccorHotels; Hilton Worldwide; Mitchells & Butlers and Whitbread for the next 18 months to manage the development of the benchmarking model, while the ‘Map My Future’ smartphone app will be available as a white label product to wider hospitality employers.

Hospitality industry ‘perfectly placed’ to help halt decline in young people earning and learning – People 1st #

Workforce development charity People 1st has declared the hospitality industry as perfectly placed to help counter findings from a new study by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills which suggest a 50% decline in young people combining part-time work with their studies.

The widely publicised report, titled ‘the death of the Saturday job’ found that the number of 16 and 17 year olds combining part-time work with their studies has halved, from just over two fifths (42%) in 1996 to only 18% in 2014. Furthermore, one in five young people (20%) reported that hours of work were too restrictive, with nearly a quarter (23%) reporting a lack of jobs in the local area.

Simon Tarr, managing director of People 1st, says: “Though these statistics are alarming, our own findings suggest that almost half (41%) of waiting staff are also full-time students, alongside 25% of bar staff, making hospitality – and the flexible hours it offers – one of the most popular areas for young people to begin their journeys into the world of work.

The challenge for hospitality, says People 1st, is retaining the best people.  Staff turnover in the industry currently stands at 20%* with approximately 365,675 workers leaving the sector each year -costing the industry some £274m per annum.

Simon adds: “Turnover is currently too high, but with a renewed focus on training and, most importantly, career progression opportunities – demonstrating to young people that there is a defined pathway up the ladder and that their futures are being invested in – hospitality is perfectly placed to help stop the rot and offer some of the most rewarding jobs in the UK.”

Increasing the number of apprenticeships offered by hospitality businesses could also be key to alleviating both issues, suggests Simon: “An increasing fear of failure has a crucial part to play in the decline of the Saturday job – young people simply don’t feel they can balance the pressure of exams with work, and this is where hospitality apprenticeships really come into their own.

“Apprenticeships offer young people the opportunity to learn and earn while developing great careers, and a Saturday job has traditionally opened the doors to apprenticeships with small and large businesses.

“It’s vital that more employers are able to offer these opportunities and that young people understand that, when it comes to building a rewarding career, hospitality apprenticeships are a fantastic alternative to full-time education.”

People 1st works with businesses across hospitality to offer consultancy and deliver bespoke training and talent management solutions, helping improve skillsets, efficiency and, crucially, safeguarding against high turnover. Hospitality businesses keen on leading the fightback can get in touch today to see how the not-for-profit charity can help galvanise their workforce.    

*People 1st State of the Nation 2013

People 1st delivers world-class training at royal retreat #

When the customer service team at Balmoral wanted to ensure their people skills were as good as they possibly could be, workforce development charity People 1st was on-hand to offer its renowned WorldHost training programme. The end result has left visitors in thrall of the team’s world class welcome.     

Set in the magnificent scenery of Royal Deeside is the Balmoral Estate, Scottish holiday home to the Royal Family and a dedicated tourist resort in itself, offering a 19th century castle with grounds, gardens and exhibitions, alongside some of the finest golf, fishing and accommodation in the UK.

Meeting Royal standards of customer service comes as second nature to the 20-strong team that keep the estate ticking, yet, as Visitor Enterprise Manager Garry Marsden revealed, the chance for the group to develop new techniques and sharpen their skills, all in the pursuit of excellence, is one rarely missed.

“When it comes to customer service, you never stop learning”.

In April 2015, Garry and his team enlisted the help of People 1st to deliver an intensive one-day training programme via WorldHost – its globally recognised gold standard training scheme which has helped educate more than one million people in customer-facing roles, globally.  
“We were looking for some form of external customer service assessment, as we needed to ensure we were on the right track,” said Garry. “Year after year we have many of the same people returning to work here and so constantly refreshing and reinforcing the customer service message becomes vital – it could be so easy to become complacent. 

“WorldHost seemed a great fit, and, as a recognised standard, we knew we needed to be part of it.” 

The Balmoral team undertook WorldHost’s one-day Principles of Customer Service programme, 
which offers support on how to make the right first impression, empathise, build rapport and communicate with customers more effectively. Crucially the training is highly interactive, giving candidates real world examples, culminating in them making five key commitments on how they will integrate elements of the course into their own working lives.

“We have a great cross-section here” said Garry, “male, female, young and not-so-young, but everybody went away with something and genuinely enjoyed themselves, which is testament to the programme and the way in which it was delivered.

“We’ve done various schemes over the years, but this has by far and away been the most practical – the information was useful and reinforced with good examples. I would recommend it to anyone looking to refresh their customer service skills.” 

So has Garry been able to see evidence of the benefits of WorldHost since April?

“We’re getting great customer feedback through both TripAdvisor and Facebook saying that our visitors find staff the friendly and helpful which is exactly what we would hope. For us it’s about safeguarding the consistency of customer experience and WorldHost has undoubtedly helped us achieve this.”

BaxterStorey launches regional Heritage Chef Competition #

The winners of the inaugural Heritage Chef of the Year competition were announced as Sam Parsons from Nationwide Building Society, Sarah Hallas from Saïd Business School and Shaun Warren from a BaxterStorey site in Bournemouth.

Launched by BaxterStorey, the UK’s largest independent workplace catering company, the competition aims to celebrate sustainable, local and seasonal cooking. 

Held at The Woodspeen Restaurant and Cookery School in Newbury, the final brought together the best of the caterer’s chefs across the South and South West.

Nearly 30 chefs across the region entered the competition, submitting a two-course menu with accompanying images and methodology. The most innovative chefs who demonstrated a passion for great flavour, seasonality and local provenance were invited to the semi-finals to present their menus to judges who then selected just six competitors to participate in the Grand Final cook-off at The Woodspeen.

Home to chef patron John Campbell, The Woodspeen hosts focused training for BaxterStorey’s Chef Academy, enabling the company’s chefs to develop their skills in a dedicated learning environment.

At the Grand Final of the Heritage Chef of the Year competition, the first challenge was to cook three main courses from a mystery basket of ingredients including locally grown strawberries and rhubarb, followed by a second assessment where chefs had to cook their own dishes depending on the category they were entering.

The Winners of the first ever Heritage Chef of The Year Competition are:
Chef Manager of The Year – Shaun Warren, 35, Bournemouth
Chef of The Year – Sam Parsons, 29, Swindon
Pastry Chef of The Year – Sara Hallas, 39, Oxford

Judging the competition was John Campbell, Hayden Groves - executive chef and National Chef of The Year 2013, and Rik Razza, head of chef development at BaxterStorey.

Sam Parsons, Chef of the Year, said: “I’m delighted to have won the first ever Heritage Chef of The Year competition. I’m really passionate about working with local, seasonal produce and this competition gave me the opportunity to showcase the fantastic ingredients we have here in and around Swindon.”

Sarah Miller, regional managing director at BaxterStorey, added: “Throughout this competition we were looking for our chefs to show us examples of sustainability, local provenance, seasonality, flavour and innovation. These are the core food values at the heart of our business and we were very impressed by the skills demonstrated in the competition.

“It’s been fantastic to recognise chefs like Sam, Sara and Shaun who champion this ethos every day at our restaurants and following the success of the first Heritage Chef of The Year we hope to make the competition an annual event.”

John Campbell, chef patron at the Woodspeen and one of the judges, added: “It was brilliant to see such a high standard of cooking in the competition. All the chefs who took part really demonstrated an eagerness to innovate and push the boundaries as much as possible. They all did a great job of demonstrating the importance of local provenance, seasonality and flavour in their dishes.

“This competition not only gave the BaxterStorey chefs an opportunity to showcase their skills, but it also created an excellent forum to share ideas and learn from each other.” 

Creed Foodservice appoints new operations director #

Creed Foodservice has appointed Steve Rich as operations director to strengthen its senior management team.

With more than 30 years’ experience in wholesale and distribution, Steve brings a wealth of knowledge with him to this role. Having started his career as a sales manager for Booker Food Services, he went on to undertake a variety of senior managerial and operational roles with Bidvest 3663, including, most recently, operations director for the Midlands.

A large regional delivered wholesale business with depots in both Gloucester and Ilkeston in Derbyshire, Creed Foodservice provides a quality, multi-category delivered wholesale service to caterers across all sectors including education, care, hospitality, and destination leisure.

As operations director for Creed, Steve will be responsible for inventory, supply-chain, transport and warehouse management. He takes on the role from Philip de Ternant who was recently appointed as managing director to lead the company as it embarks on the latest phase of its development plan.

Steve commented: “Creed is a successful business and I have joined the company at a really exciting time. I very much look forward to utilising my industry experience and working with the company as it continues to grow.” 

FPA launches new website and app #

The FPA has launched a new, mobile optimised, website and app.  The website includes a number of new features such as a blog, an area where members can post job vacancies and an area for news from member companies.

The new website is designed to be the ‘go-to’ resource for information about the foodservice packaging sector and features a wealth of resources and links. Some of these are available to members only, giving members added value, but the information in the public domain is, in itself, believed to be the largest single resource for information about foodservice packaging.  The website makes clear the FPA policies on the key development impacting on foodservice packaging, foodservice operators and caterers.   The new website will be continually updated with new information – those signed up to the app will receive alerts.

Every member is featured on the website and the new Member News facility will be populated with news covering company achievements, people news, charity and community work.  The new recruitment section is already being put to good use by FPA members and it is hoped this will become a lively board used by many members to recruit sector staff.   Members are urged to contact Executive Director Martin Kersh with their recruitment needs and member news. 

The new free FPA app is designed to operate on both iOS and Android platforms and is already available in the Apple store and will be available shortly in Android.  Search for FPA app.  The app will keep members and those interested in foodservice packaging up to date with the latest news and events.

Chairman Howard Colliver said: “The FPA is delighted to have invested in a new website that packed full of relevant content and is easily updated. The app will enable us to keep everyone up to date whilst on the move.”

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FPA opposes proposed Scottish deposit refund scheme #

The FPA is actively working with caterers and foodservice operators to oppose proposals put forward by the Scottish government to Defra for a UK wide deposit refund scheme for beverage packaging, cartons and possibly food cartons.    ARENA members who would like to contribute to this lobby are urged to contact Martin Kersh, FPA Executive Director ASAP: Tel 01869 351139 or email