Members’ News

April 2018

Reynolds invests in Solstice #

Reynolds has purchased the business and assets of Solstice, a high-end, regional greengrocer based in Wimbledon, in a pre-packaged administration sale.

Founded by Philip Britten, Solstice has supplied a range of speciality fruit and vegetables, dairy and ambient products to the hospitality industry over the last 20 years.

Tony Reynolds, managing director of Reynolds, said: "Both businesses share similar family values of excellent quality and service, but have their own, unique and enviable customer base. I am incredibly excited about the opportunities which lie ahead and would like to welcome the team at Solstice to the Reynolds family."

Solstice will retain its existing identity but with the support of the team at Reynolds where necessary.

Benjamin Wiles, joint administrator and managing director at Duff & Phelps commented: ‘We are pleased to announce the successful sale of the Solstice business to Reynolds, which has facilitated business continuity and has preserved the jobs of its entire workforce. We expect the business to go from strength to strength under its new ownership as part of a
successful larger fresh fruit and vegetable business."

Philip Britten, founder of Solstice, said, ‘I am delighted at the prospect of working with the Reynolds family. I’ve no doubt that, by sharing best practices across both businesses, Solstice will have a very exciting and sustainable future ahead."

Reynolds was advised on the transaction by Surinder Bougan of EY and Russ Hill of Squire Patton Boggs.

WSH announces landmark sustainability pledge #

- WSH commits to procure 100% of direct purchase electricity from renewable sources
- Hospitality brands include BaxterStorey, The Woodspeen, HIX, BENUGO and Searcys                                                

WSH, the parent company of hospitality brands including BaxterStorey, Mere, HIX, Benugo and Searcys has passed a landmark resolution, committing to procure 100% of the business’ direct purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
WSH’s pledge demonstrates the business’ commitment to furthering the aspirational goal of decarbonising the UK by reducing fossil fuel emissions and increasing demand for home grown renewable energy.
In 2008 the UK Government passed the Climate Change Act, which sets up a framework for the UK to achieve its long-term goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure steps are taken towards adapting to the impact of climate change. The UK is legally bound to provide for 15% of its energy needs, including 30% of electricity, 12% of heat, and 10% of transport fuel, from renewable sources by 2020. On its current course, the UK will fail to achieve this target.
Mike Hanson, head of sustainable business at WSH, said: “As the UK’s largest independent hospitality provider we have a responsibility to continuously develop new ways of reducing our impacts whilst maximising opportunities. We do this by being innovative and brave, demonstrating our commitment to making our business a sustainable business. 
“WSH will initially be procuring renewable electricity sourced from suppliers, taking the form of green electricity contracts with utilities providers as current contracts expire.  All new contracts will be sourcing renewable electricity from the outset. This commitment is an amazing step for us, one which I hope will encourage similar actions from others in our sector.”
Matthew Thomas, managing director at Searcys, said: “Using renewable resources is a moral and business imperative for any company. At Searcys, we recognise the responsibility that we have in making a positive impact on our community and the environment. Our company pledges fully support this belief. We are committed to sourcing the best ingredients we can, adhering to all sustainable business practices, including procuring electricity from renewable sources, as well as recruiting and retaining the best industry professionals.”
BENUGO founder, Ben Warner said: “We welcome this exciting innovation as it illustrates BENUGO’S commitment to reducing our overall impact wherever possible.”
WSH will be reporting progress each year through their annual CDP submission, report, accounts and individual business websites. The full list of organisations making the pledge are:
The Woodspeen
Holroyd Howe

BaxterStorey launches the industry’s first in-house Service Academy #

BaxterStorey has launched its newest training initiative; the Service Academy. Designed to ensure hospitality staff across the business are equipped with skills and confidence to provide a service to rival that of a five-star hotel, the initiative is the first of its kind within the hospitality industry.

Presented to hospitality and catering insiders at a launch event at Hachette UK in London this week, the Academy complements BaxterStorey’s already award-winning learning and development initiatives including the Chef Academy and Barista Academy.

Noel Mahony, co-chief executive at BaxterStorey, said: “Our clients now look at hospitality service from a new perspective, with many bringing hospitality in-house but demand an offer to reflect that of a five-star hotel, or Michelin-star restaurant.

“The BaxterStorey Service Academy ensures our people are equipped to provide the very highest levels of service, matching the skillsets of those offering top-level service outside the contract catering industry.”

Bringing the training in-house has given BaxterStorey the opportunity to create a bespoke programme which exceeds industry standards, providing colleagues with confidence and knowledge to provide high quality service. Modules are focused on developing both soft and technical skills through workshop modules including hotel visit, afternoon tea and lunch experiences as well as food and wine masterclasses.

With those graduating from the course being awarded globally recognised qualifications, BaxterStorey is the first foodservice business in the UK to be accredited as an Approved Programme Provider (APP) of Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) qualifications, with Gabrielle Le Roux, Programme Developer at BaxterStorey becoming the first in-house APP educator in the food service industry.

Apprentices and other team members within the business will have the opportunity to achieve Level 1 in Wines and Level 2 in Wines and Spirits.

In addition to the one-year apprenticeship programme, colleagues will have access to a number of courses to help fine-tune their service skills. These include; Foundations of Coffee and Tea Brewing, Presentation and Communication Skills and Service Black and Whites.

Speaking at the launch of the Service Academy last night, Alastair Storey, chairman and chief executive officer of WSH, the parent company of BaxterStorey, and president of the Institute of Hospitality, said: “We are blessed to have very good chefs in the UK and I think there is a great deal of enthusiasm for people to get into the culinary world, but we must never forget the person at the point of service who
make an enormous difference.

“The skills that these people have - the ability to talk about the product, the ability to talk about the wines, and the ability to interpret the mood of the room, a table or a customer and react appropriately - these are critical skills. You can have the finest food in the world, but if you let the front of house down it doesn’t work and that is why training is so important.”

​BaxterStorey baristas scoop first and second place at 2018 Belgium Barista Championship #

Two baristas from BaxterStorey’s AXA headquarters contract in Brussels have taken first and second place in the 2018 Belgium Barista Championship.

BaxterStorey’s Remy Poirot and Erica Lamenter were taking part in the Speciality Coffee Association-organised championship at the Viva Sara Kaffée Kortrijk coffeehouse in Belgium last week.

Three finalists were invited to illustrate their creative flair and in-depth coffee knowledge to industry judges, and serve four espressos, four milk beverages and four signature drinks within 15 minutes.

In addition to explaining to judges their choice of coffee and demonstrating their understanding of their espresso machine, each barista was marked on their customer service and creativity. Both Remy and Erica used coffee beans roasted by local Belgium supplier Cuperus.

Jana Slamova, national barista trainer at BaxterStorey, said: “Both Remy and Erica are first-time competitors in the national championships, and we are so proud of their incredible achievements in this final. They worked very hard to prepare for the event and their performance has highlighted the extremely talented professionals they are.”

Earlier in the year, Remy and Erica also secured second and third place, respectively, in the 2017 BaxterStorey Barista Championships, which saw six baristas from across the business compete in a closely fought final at the Salvation Army International Headquarters in London.

Belgium Barista Championship winner Remy will now represent Belgium at the prestigious World Barista Championship 2018, which is being held in Amsterdam from 21-24 June.

Remy commented: “I am thrilled to have won - it was an adrenaline-fuelled day and very exciting. I developed a simple but effective signature drink, adding unrefined coconut sugar to complement the tropical flavours of the espresso and tangerine juice to bring creaminess to the drink. I’m really proud to be able to represent Belgium in the World Barista Championship, and can’t wait to compete in Amsterdam in June."

Essential Cuisine launches profitable new sauce collection #

With beef overtaking chicken as the number one protein eaten out-of-home^, Essential Cuisine is launching a brand new range of classic accompaniments, helping chefs save valuable time and giving sites an irresistible upsell opportunity worth over £55 per jar.  

The new flavours, Wild Mushroom and Peppercorn, have been created by the British company’s development chefs, using the finest quality ingredients, and are the first new products to emerge from the company’s state-of-the-art Innovation Kitchen opened last year. Both are supplied in a concentrated liquid format that means kitchens can simply mix with water and fresh double cream before serving.  
With operators looking to recoup margin from profitable starters and side dishes, Essential Cuisine’s new sauces can add £55 per jar to the bottom line. One 800g jar plus 600ml of fresh double cream results in a superior yield of five litres of product. With outlets charging an average sell out price of £2 per accompaniment*, 50 x 100ml servings can result in over £55 profit. 
For those that prefer the personal touch, the range has been created to play into the hands of skilled chefs and carry additional ingredients. However they are served, kitchens can reap the rewards of profitable customer favourites – recent research has revealed Peppercorn (44%), Wild Mushroom (18%) as the top two sauces for steak. 
Nigel Crane, managing director, Essential Cuisine, comments: “Offering incremental sauces and sides as accompaniments to protein, gives operators a big up-sell opportunity, helping to offset margin squeezes elsewhere on menus.
“Our new Sauce Collection presents chefs and kitchens with the perfect opportunity to drive increased menu margin, safeguard quality and consistency, save time, offer up classic flavours we know consumers love, and still get down to the business of creativity. We couldn’t be prouder that this range is the first to emerge from our Innovation Kitchen – watch this space for more additions to the collection soon.”
Able to be stored ambient for 12 months, even once opened, Essential Cuisine’s new Sauce Collection is also gluten-free.    
^MCA 2017
* Menu price analysis, based on 19 UK restaurant chains, November 2017

Essential brigade out in force for Chefs Adopt a School Week #

The Essential Cuisine team of chefs will be marking the second Chefs Adopt a School Week by visiting schools across the UK to yet again deliver inspirational and fun cookery workshops to pupils. 
Managing director of Essential Cuisine, Nigel Crane, whose company has long been a Royal Academy of Culinary Arts – the organisation behind the Chefs Adopt a School charity – patron, says the outreach work has never been more vital.
He says: “Good diet is such a basic consideration but we must help stave off an epidemic of poor nutrition and give children the tools to make better informed choices. One of the first things we do when a chef joins the team is ask them to become a champion of the local schools in their area. Engaging with kids at a grass-roots level is not only vital in them understanding the importance of their individual well-being, but is also key to helping them improve and hone basic kitchen skills, which will pay dividends as their lives progress. We’re proud that we can give something back. I urge all food businesses to engage with the Royal Academy during this week and beyond.”
Last year Essential Cuisine donated £8,000 to Chefs Adopt a School, as part of a promotion on packs of its class-leading Premier Veal Jus. Speaking at the time, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Sara Jayne Stanes OBE, called the move “a magnificent demonstration of support to emphasise the importance of getting [children] interested  cooking from an early age.”

This time around the Essential Cuisine chefs will be back on the road, working with schools in across Cheshire, Staffordshire, Hampshire and Gloucestershire. The manufacturer of stocks, jus, gravies, glaces and ready to use sauces, also regularly welcomes local schools to its Cheshire HQ for interactive tasting sessions.

Essential Cuisine chefs hailed as heroes after coming to the aid of RTA victim #

Four Essential Cuisine chefs have been praised after coming to the aid of a pedestrian struck by a car in East London.

Chefs Gary Kilminster, Robin Dudley, Jonathan Harvey-Barnes and Guy Norton, were on their way out to dinner after a full day at trade show Hotelympia, when they saw the lady, thought to be in her 70’s, get struck by a car moving slowly through traffic.

Gary, whose father was a paramedic for some 30 years, and is a trained first aider, was able to ensure the victim’s head and neck were properly supported, while Jonathan used his coat to keep her warm. Robin directed traffic and also came to the aid of the clearly in-shock, elderly driver as Guy summoned the police and ambulance services, guiding them to the scene.

The lady was taken to hospital with minor injuries and is recovering well; she later personally phoned the team to thank them for coming to her aid.

Gary Kilminster said: “It was just one of those things really, we just happened to be first on the scene and did what any good citizens would do. We were all extremely relieved to hear that the lady was ok – she sounded in good spirits on the phone and it was lovely that she took the time to thank us.”

Managing director of Essential Cuisine, Nigel Crane, added: “We’re extremely proud of the lads for their quick thinking and heroism in directing heavy traffic around the scene, ensuring the emergency services were quickly dispatched and for comforting both the victim and driver. Proof that true teamwork transcends the kitchen walls!” 

McCain Foodservice releases official ‘What’s Hot’ report on 2018’s top trends #

2018 will see consumers increasingly turning towards value, convenience, and informality when choosing to eat out, according to a new report revealed by McCain Foodservice.

Turnover in the food service sector is set to slow amidst continued consumer uncertainty, and with this in mind, it’s vital that foodservice professionals stay ahead of the curve.   Jo Simmons, McCain Foods senior brand manager, explains: “As new trends come and go, changes to what consumers eat, where they eat, and how they eat take place. Operators take influence from fresh new cuisines, bold new flavours make it on to menus, and new dining options emerge. Technology also has a big influence.

“With so many changes happening it can be hard to pick out the opportunities that will work for your business, and those that will make headlines and then disappear, so we’ve rounded up a few of the key ones that we believe can help caterers stay hot and ahead of the competition in the next year.”

The headline trends on the horizon for 2018:

Value Scrutiny: Value for money will be increasingly important as consumers scrutinise their spending decision. This doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers are continually chasing the cheapest option. Instead, they want hearty portions, great value food and excellent standards of service.

Convenience: 2017 saw a 6% rise in quick-service lunch visits, and this trend shows no signs of slowing. As the rise of home delivery shows, convenience is central to our busy lives. Making it as easy as possible for diners to get a great meal quickly and easily will be a key growth area across the industry this year.

Technology: 40% of 25-37 year olds prefer ordering food on their phones to table service, whilst 67% will spend more on their phones than when ordering in person. Our phones and tablets are now ever-present in our lifestyle habits. Finding ways of integrating the latest tech into a traditional foodservice industry could see businesses sink or swim.

Informality: When dining in consumers view eating as an opportunity to socialise, catch up and take a break from the business of modern life. To provide for this, many venues are seeing success by creating a more casual dining environment. Food that’s easy to share, communal seating, and ‘pay first, leave whenever’ approaches to service are all trends that will be hot in 2018.

Indulgence, Foodie Culture, Provenance & Sustainability, Meals that Look as Good as they Taste and Healthy Eating are other key trends that you can read about more in the report. 

CH&Co Group catering manager celebrates double win at Sue Ryder Southern Women Achievement Awards #

Beccy Harley, the catering manager for CH&Co Group at Sue Ryder Nettlebed Hospice in Henley-on-Thames, celebrated double success at the Sue Ryder Southern Women Achievement Awards.

In recognition of her inspirational and unwavering dedication to the hospice, the patients and their families, her team and the Sue Ryder charity, Beccy scooped two prestigious awards at a special event held at Reading Town Hall: the Sue Ryder Recognition Award and the Robyn Jones Southern Woman of Achievement Award – the highest accolade of the evening.

Beccy has worked at Nettlebed hospice for 18 years, providing all meals for patients, staff and visitors. Her person-centred approach ensures mealtimes are homely, as enjoyable as possible and a source of comfort in what are emotionally challenging circumstances. Always putting the patients first, she has worked every Christmas Day to give people a memorable last Christmas, with all the trimmings.

Acutely aware that any meal could be a patient’s last, Beccy does everything she can to make mealtimes special.  Menus are tailored to the individual, offer a wide variety of choice, and mealtimes are flexible. Beccy and her team are also happy to prepare something ‘off menu’ if that’s what a patient wants.

Beccy said: “I’m thrilled and overwhelmed to have won these awards. I love working at the hospice and being able to make a difference.  Food is so important in end-of-life care for patients and relatives, both physically and emotionally. I lost my husband to cancer so I know how comforting it is to see a loved one enjoy a meal and to share food with them.  Giving our patients and their families the finest, freshly-prepared food that they want to eat, when they want to eat it, is what drives me and the team.  These awards recognise their hard work too.”

Tim Jones, chairman of CH&Co Group and the husband of the late Robyn Jones OBE who inspired the Robyn Jones Southern Woman of Achievement Award, said: “My wholehearted congratulations to Beccy Harley. Her commitment to the Nettlebed Hospice patients and their families is incredible and she deserves such prestigious recognition. The Robyn Jones Southern Woman of Achievement Award is the highest accolade of the evening, as it celebrates the overall winner.  Beccy’s understanding of how to bring comfort to patients and relatives in such difficult times, her ‘above and beyond’ approach and her continued dedication really impressed the judges of this award, and there was no doubt that she was its clear and worthy recipient. Robyn was always a champion of the unsung hero and she’d be delighted by Beccy’s success.”

The Sue Ryder Southern Women Achievement Awards celebrates women from across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire who have achieved notable success and stand out as a role model and inspiration to other women.  The awards event also raises vital funds for the Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent and Nettlebed Hospices.

Flexy asks: Artificial Intelligence (AI) can streamline recruitment processes, but can it really identify the right people for a job in the hospitality sector? #

Recruitment in the hospitality industry is going through a challenging time. With increases in Living Wage, low unemployment, and the uncertain immigration process post Brexit, attracting talent is becoming increasingly competitive within the sector.
To adapt to these challenges, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been widely reported as a potential tool to assist with the recruitment process. AI can be used in a multitude of diverse ways, from the initial interaction with a candidate via a chat-bot, through to using Machine Learning to scan CVs and identify key skills and attributes which match a role.
However, in an industry where personality and cultural fit are so important, can AI improve traditional recruitment methods?
AI can be defined as the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
In recruitment, AI can be used from the very start of the candidate engagement process. Using chat-bots within social media platforms or company websites is a fantastic way to engage with potential candidates and start the filtering process to ascertain suitability based on skills, experience, location, and salary expectations. Over the past year several large technology firms have made chat-bot tools available for free, which means that even if you have limited technical knowledge you can create a chat-bot to interact with candidates and follow a basic decision tree to ascertain their suitability.
In the same the way chat-bots can filter candidates via conversation, CV sifting tools have become highly efficient at scanning CVs to identify relevant experience, skills, and even tone of voice; all thanks to AI. CV sifting tools powered by AI are particularly useful if you advertise on job boards, as job boards often generate hundreds of applications for a role but due to the “click-to-apply” feature many boards operate, applicants can often be irrelevant an unsuitable for the position.
Hospitality is an industry that is widely influenced by the personality traits of those who work within a company, and the growing popularity of video interviews, both live and recorded, have opened opportunity for AI to be deployed to analyse personality traits.
Google, IBM and Amazon have all released facial and voice evaluation tools which enable video analysis to identify dominant personality traits. This is achieved by using Natural Language Processing and Sentiment Analysis techniques to evaluate the facial expressions of candidates during a video interview and identifying their facial construct when they say specific words. This type of analysis is particularly effective at identifying whether someone is extroverted or introverted but can also be used to identify traits such as openness, contentiousness, neuroticism, and agreeableness.
Personality match can be one crucial factor in determining an individual’s suitability for a specific role but other factors including experience, performance, reliability and availability need to be considered to deliver a more holistic view of candidate suitability. A digitally powered recruitment process can continuously capture key data points from candidate’s interactions with the platform, which in turn can be used to train machine algorithms to predict workers scoring on key attributes like performance and reliability. This process is called Machine Learning (ML), which is a sub-branch of AI. The key idea behind ML is that it is possible to create algorithms that learn from and make predictions on data.    
In a highly competitive recruitment market, hospitality companies must innovate recruitment practices to compete with other sectors. Using AI as part of a wider recruitment strategy will help streamline processes and unlock local talent who otherwise may be disengaged by traditional recruitment techniques.

Speed makes its mark with The Planet Mark #

Speed appointed to support sustainability project

Speed has been appointed on a project-basis to raise the profile of The Planet Mark and its sustainability initiatives.  The Planet Mark is an internationally-recognised and trusted certification programme, recognising commitment to continuous improvement in sustainability. It is awarded to businesses, properties, new developments and projects that are committed to reducing their carbon emissions.
Founded in 2013, in partnership with the Eden Project, The Planet Mark aims to empower organisations and their people to make year-on-year progress in sustainability. Helping more than 100 organisations, Planet Mark-certified businesses are achieving move than 10% carbon savings per year per employee through energy use, waste, water, travel and procurement.
Speed’s dedicated Food & Hospitality team, which has worked on numerous sustainability initiatives within the industry, is supporting The Planet Mark on raising awareness of its Sustainability Certification, which measurably contributes to seven of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unveiled at a ‘Business and the Global Goals’ event, on 1 February 2018, the Certification comes as recent research revealed that as many as two in five firms are either ignoring or are having no meaningful engagement with the UN’s goals.

The project will see Speed manage the ongoing press office and secure in-depth thought leadership articles across key media. Activity will focus on raising the profile of the new Sustainability Certification and engage and inspire businesses to take action.
The Planet Mark founder, Steve Malkin, said: “Momentum has been building within the business community to take steps forward over the last two years. But latest evidence suggests those efforts could be falling short due to a lack of meaningful and measurable action. Now is the time to take action, and we believe Speed is the right PR partner to help us achieve our goals. Their industry knowledge and passion for our cause makes us confident we can make real strides forward.”

Cat Jennings, director of food & hospitality at Speed, said: “We had crossed paths with The Planet Mark at various sustainability events and initiatives within the industry, and they are renowned for their vision and the footprint they are leaving amongst businesses. We are looking forward to helping tell their fascinating story and empower companies to get on board.”

Compass celebrates medal haul at Hotelympia #

Compass Group UK & Ireland celebrated the achievement of its chefs at Hotelympia where they were awarded a host of medals. 

Over 60 chefs from across the business came together to showcase the exceptional quality of food served daily across the company. 

Altogether, Compass Group chefs won over 59 awards, including: 2 gold, 18 silver, 16 bronze, 12 merit awards, 9 best in class awards plus an incredible 2 Best of Show Special Category Awards.  

Some Award Highlights:
- James Larkins, Chartwells won ‘Best Restaurant Plate Exhibit 2018’ in the Best of Show Special Categories Award; on top of the Gold, Best in Class in Starter Plates and Merit Award in Restaurant Fish Courses he had already scooped.  
- Barry Fleming, Chartwells won ‘Best Static Show Piece 2018’ in the Best of Show Special Categories Award; alongside the gold award he has won earlier on in the week in the Work in Fat category.
- The Compass Group Culinary Team took home the Silver Award in the La Parade des Chefs competition, captained by Adam Thomason, Restaurant Associates. 
- The England National Team, which is made up of 3 Compass chefs out of the 10 (Jamie Gibbs, ESS, Rob Kennedy, Chartwells, and Dennis Mwakulua, Restaurant Associates), won the overall award for ‘Best La Parade Des Chefs’ National Team.  

Nick Vadis, culinary director at Compass Group UK & Ireland, said:  “It was fantastic to see our chefs bringing their skills, dedication and passion to the event. The culinary competitions at Hotelympia allow our chefs to showcase their outstanding talent among their peers. Competitions are a great environment for chefs to cook in and enables them to show off their culinary techniques and expertise. We had a number of chefs competing for the first time and they would have learnt so much from the experience. It was great to demonstrate the breadth and depth of skill of our culinary family. ”  
Chris Garside, managing director of Compass Group UK & Ireland, added:  “Our passion for great food and service sits at the very core of our DNA; I am so proud of what our chefs have achieved. They are great Ambassadors for Compass. They work incredibly hard every day to deliver high quality food for our clients and customers, so it’s great when they have the opportunity to showcase their talent to a wider audience. Congratulations to all our chefs who competed.”

The macaron – the small treat hitting 2018’s biggest trends #

20 March was National Macaron Day and Stéphanie Brillouet, marketing director at Délifrance UK, gave her take on everyone’s favourite patisserie, which continues to stand the test of time hitting 2018’s top food trends.

Stéphanie says: “There’s no patisserie treat that’s more deserving of its very own day. The macaron, in one form or another, has been around for hundreds of years, and yet it’s still on trend. We’ve identified four key trends in the patisserie market for 2018 that you can capitalise on with the humble macaron to brighten countertops, fill window displays, and tempt customers through your door.”

1. Eye-catching colours
“Clever colours are a key trend for 2018 – such as the growing buzz around ruby chocolate – and the macaron is the perfect platform to bring a rainbow of colours to your site. A range of bright, bold colours makes your counter top or window display more eye-catching and your patisserie offer even more Instagrammable – perfect for drawing customers in.”

2. Terrific textures
“Consumers expect variety, not just with colours, but with textures. Thankfully, the macaron provides the perfect texture twosome with every bite, with its smooth, soft filling contrasting with a crunchy, delicious exterior.”

3. A size for everyone
“Growth in the afternoon tea market has shown that consumers love to try and share a range of desserts, and this has made the world of miniature desserts a massive trend. We’ve seen a lot of interest in our micro macarons; part of our À la Folie! range of petits fours. These bite-sized, colourful, flavourful sweet treats can be combined with a wide range of desserts to create the most desirable dessert selection imaginable.”

4. Nostalgia reimagined
“People love classic patisserie, but this year we’re seeing the classic favourites being reimagined. New flavours, sweet and savoury combinations, different shapes and sizes – operators need to appeal to nostalgia but mix up their offer to stay on trend, and the macaron is the perfect patisserie to do just that.”

“Whether it’s on your counter or at the centre of your afternoon tea selection, give the macaron pride of place this National Macaron Day and beyond. It’s a small, simple and colourful way to make sure you stay on trend all-year round.”

Emerging trends inform new Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events direction #

CHANGING trends in meeting and event requirements are setting the course for a leading UK catering and events company.

Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events, catering and event management partner at 50 of the country’s best loved museums, sports stadia, heritage sites and visitor attractions, has seen a rise in the number of requests for experience-based corporate and private events in memorable and inspirational venues.
The company, whose portfolio includes venues as diverse as IWM London, Ascot Racecourse, historic Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, Newcastle United’s St James’ Park and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, said bookers are increasingly wanting experiential venues for their conferences and events to add impact and create more dynamic content in line with their objectives and brand.
And, in response it has launched Marks of Distinction, a strategy aimed at highlighting the benefits their portfolio of over 50 unique and unusual venues bring to brands, businesses and their attendees.
“Our clients tell us that unique venues with experiential elements have a very real impact on guest and delegate attendance and engagement” said Natasha Carr, UK venue & events marketing manager, at Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events.
“Which means that the lasting impact of the event is stronger and more beneficial to both the booker and attendees. We provide experiences that motivate teams, encourage attendance, reflect the host’s brand and allow for an experiential element to the event, bringing it to life.”                                                                                 

It also reports an increase in the number of bookers wanting to add tailored experiences, such as venue tours, team building activities, workshops and master classes, all of which can be arranged by the onsite teams to enhance the overall experience.
“With such a variety of choice Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events has a central Hub team who are on hand to help bookers find the most suitable and effective venues and activities for each occasion,” added Natasha.
“They provide friendly guidance and assistance to ensure objectives are met and the brief fulfilled, linking events to sporting greatness, history and heritage, iconic venues or stunning settings as appropriate.”

Sodexo charity dinner raises £185k for Stop Hunger #

Sodexo raised over £185,000 at its Stop Hunger Foundation charity dinner last month.

More than 450 guests attended the black-tie dinner at The Dorchester Hotel, London, the grand finale to the year’s fundraising activities for Stop Hunger, a campaign that aims to tackle poor nutrition in local communities across the UK and Ireland.

Throughout the evening guests learnt how the money raised promotes healthy lifestyles, provides food to those in need and supports charities such as FareShare, SSAFA and The Trussell Trust.

Sean Haley, regional chair, Sodexo UK & Ireland recognised a number of employees for their efforts in supporting the Foundation. Sarah Masson received the Volunteer Award for her enthusiasm for the #mystophungerpledge campaign. She was instrumental in recruiting and organising volunteering for Sodexo’s Energy and Resources colleagues.

Tim Wright was the winner of the Most Innovative Fundraising Idea Award for organising 15 of his colleagues to take part in the Dunwich Dynamo, a yearly, overnight 200km cycle from London to the Suffolk Coast. His great enthusiasm for the event attracted 15 colleagues in 2017 raising a whopping £3,400 for Stop Hunger.

Rezki Karar from Sodexo Government Services team won the Stop Hunger Day Initiative Award.  Rezki raised money by shaving his head and encouraged his colleagues to participate in a Regent’s Park run He has also been involved in several volunteering and fundraising activities for Stop Hunger throughout the year, including parachute jumping and climbing Mount Snowdon.

The final award of the night, the Charity Champion Award, went to audit and compliance manager Mark Welshman. His ongoing engagement with the Stop Hunger team and all the initiatives and campaigns put forward. As the Charity Champion for Government Services, he has been committed and passionate throughout the past two years, raising a significant amount for Stop Hunger. Mark has given up his own time and money as part of these endeavors too - spending weekends away with the team and jumping out of an airplane. Mark has even raised the Government Services target from £7.5 to £12k for this financial year.

The main event of the evening was the live auction with prizes ranging from tickets to Brighton & Hove Albion Football club, an exclusive tour of the House of Lords and a VIP weekend for two in Paris.

Thanks to hard work and support, we make it possible for hundreds of vulnerable people to get off the streets and enjoy a hot meal; give families on low income the chance to give their children the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults; and give disadvantaged young people a better understanding of how they can live a healthier lifestyle.

Sean Haley, Sodexo UK & Ireland regional chair, said: “Over the years, Stop Hunger has touched upon thousands of lives and continues to make a difference. I’m delighted how much the Sodexo Foundation has flourished – both internationally and in the UK & Ireland. Sodexo aims to make a difference by supporting our local communities, which is at the heart of everything we do and our corporate mission is to improve the quality of life for all our stakeholders.”

Gender balanced management teams make for safer and happier employees, study finds #

Study of 50,000 Sodexo employees finds teams with gender diversity achieve better results across the board
Sodexo has found teams managed by a balanced mix of men and women are more successful across a range of measurements including employee engagement and health and safety.
The five-year, one-of-a-kind study of 70 Sodexo entities across different functions represents 50,000 managers worldwide and tested the performance implications of gender inclusive work culture.

The study examined women across all levels of management – not just upper-level leadership positions – in order to investigate the “pipeline” that will ultimately affect gender balance at the top tier of businesses.

Sodexo’s study found that non-financial factors can also significantly benefit from a more equally structured leadership, with benefits including:
- Gender-balanced management reported an employee engagement rate that was 14 percentage points higher than other entities.
- Gender-balanced entities saw the number of accidents decrease by 12 percentage points more than other entities.
- Gender-balanced entities had an average client retention rate that was 9 percentage points higher than other entities.
- Gender-balanced entities had an average employee retention rate that was 8 percentage points higher than other entities.
- Operating margins significantly increased among more gender-balanced teams than other teams.

The pattern of results indicated that a near-equal balance of men and women in management was critical to observing gains in financial and non-financial KPIs. Once the proportion of women in management exceeded 60%, the benefits plateaued, confirming that a mix between 40% and 60% is necessary for optimal performance.
Analysts also found a direct correlation between the percentage of women in the total workforce and those in management, indicating gender-balanced workforces and leadership create an environment supportive of career growth for women. This lends support to the idea that gender parity in top leadership is closely related to the pipeline of women in the workforce. 
Sean Haley, chairman, Sodexo UK & Ireland said, “As a business, we have been committed to the advancement of women for a long time.

“By putting our head above the parapet and actually conducting research on our own workforce, we have been able to prove that gender-balanced leadership not only makes business sense, but can enhance the quality of life of our employees.

“Despite notable progress, we are fully aware more work needs to be done, which is why achieving gender balance is one of the three pillars of our Better Tomorrow 2025 vision.”
Sodexo, already a leader in diversity & inclusion, is breaking new ground in gender parity. Today, women represent 50% of our board. Thirty-two percent of senior leadership positions are held by women globally – a 6% increase at the very top levels since 2013.
Middle management and site management positions are balanced at 46%. Currently, 59% of the total workforce works within gender-balanced management. 
Rohini Anand, PhD, senior vice president, corporate responsibility and global chief diversity officer, Sodexo added, “These results add a new, compelling dimension to a growing body of research that demonstrates the business benefits of gender equity. 

“The distinctive nature of the study, with its examination of both financial and non-financial performance indicators across so many levels of management and the pipeline to leadership, is a significant piece of the overall picture on the importance of gender in the workforce for enhanced outcomes.”
The unique Sodexo Gender Balance Study originated in 2014 with Sodexo’s desire to improve its gender parity in leadership throughout the management of its 425,000 global workforce and to expand previous outside research on gender parity in the workplace.

Sodexo culinary team scoops Hotelympia gold / Adam Collison is Sodexo Chef of the Year #

A Sodexo culinary team won gold at Hotelympia in extraordinary circumstances in the La Parade des Chefs competition.

Adverse weather meant the Scotland culinary team was unable to attend, so at short notice Sodexo drafted in another five chefs to support the six-strong team and serve double the number of covers at the ExCeL event.

Captained by Sodexo Schools & Universities food innovation director Tom Allen, the team served 200 three-course menus to earn gold from judges.

Meanwhile, Adam Collison from Sodexo Corporate Services won Sodexo Chef of the Year on the live stage.

A hospitality chef at Sodexo’s Astra Zeneca contract, Adam was awarded silver, ‘best in class’ by a select panel of judges including Adam Handling, Cyrus Todiwala, Russell Bateman and Alyn Williams.

Nicholas Reid, Sodexo Corporate Services executive chef at Almac in Northern Ireland, was runner up, also getting silver.

Adam and Nicholas were among nine chefs from across Sodexo UK & Ireland taking part in the contest.

Adam’s first prize will be a culinary trip to the Portuguese capital Lisbon provided by sponsors Leathams.

Tom Allen, Sodexo Schools & Universities food innovation director and La Parade des Chefs Sodexo team captain, said: “I got a call on Saturday asking if we could serve another 100 covers as the Scottish national team couldn’t make it. I phoned around, pulled in a couple of favours, and by 11pm that night we had another five chefs. On Sunday, I started calling suppliers to get additional ingredients.

“We met up on Monday and started the preparation. I was very clear with the team we would approach the event in the spirit of the competition and restrict preparation beforehand, so after a briefing yesterday morning we set split the team into two, in one kitchen preparing starters and desserts, and main courses in the other.

“The judges were excellent and treated the service like they would normally, tasting according to the rules and taking random dishes from the pass. Of course we’re pleased to get gold, but we’re most pleased to have offered the fine dining experience all the diners expected.”

Adam Collison, hospitality chef, Sodexo Corporate Services, and Sodexo Chef of the Year winner, said: “I was a finalist in 2014, 2015 and 2016, but never placed before. This year I just felt much calmer and more composed because I’d been there three times before. My planning was much better all-round too – I labelled every single pan to avoid bringing unnecessary things into the kitchen with me. I knew if there was an item left on the tray then I meant I hadn’t executed the dishes exactly to plan.”

David Mulcahy, Sodexo food development director, said: “Congratulations to Adam on winning Sodexo Chef of the Year. He showed tremendous nerve under pressure to deliver an excellent menu to our team of judges.

“What a turnout from our La Parade des Chefs team too, doubling their numbers at short notice to ensure diners could enjoy a three-course meal that was literally gold standard! A superb effort from the original team and the additional chefs brought in to cover.”

Minister commits to helping tackle the catering equipment skills shortage #

Meeting highlighted need to develop new skills strategies and encourage apprenticeships.
CESA’s meeting on February 5 2018 with Rt Hon Anne Milton, the Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships, and Semta (the Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance) has resulted in the Minister committing to host a meeting to help the industry meet the challenge of the skills shortage. 
“The main discussion looked at the need to develop a responsive, employer-led, fit for purpose education skills system for employers large and small,” says Keith Warren, director of CESA.  “Just as importantly, it has to work for individuals entering the engineering sector and those already employed within it.” 
The meeting will involve 20-30 organisations, including trade associations such as CESA, equipment suppliers and major foodservice operators.  It will look at how the separate sectors can work together to develop strategies for careers development.  “Many people working in hospitality move over to develop a career in the catering equipment supply chain,” Warren points out.  “The synergies are clear.”
The Minister also offered to attend a round table to stimulate active engagement from employers in the business critical area of skills development. 
“We need a whole new set of strategies to meet the skills shortage challenge,” says Warren.  “We have to improve the employability of those leaving our schools and universities, and encourage them to look at a career in catering equipment.”  
One key issue raised by CESA members is that some schools and colleges no longer welcome representatives from SMEs coming in to offer careers advice.  “There seems to be an increasing focus on getting students into university, as opposed to following an apprenticeship route,” says Warren.  “The Minister was very concerned to hear these stories and intends to investigate the issue.   
“I would be grateful if any other catering equipment companies who have experienced this would contact the CESA Secretariat.  Encouraging apprenticeships is a key strategy in meeting the skills shortage.” 

GulfHost 2018: foodservice equipment companies can apply for grants of £2,500 #

CESA helps UK companies make most of dynamic ME trade show

UK catering equipment companies looking to access the Middle East can apply for grants of £2,500 to exhibit at GulfHost.  There are six TAP (Tradeshow Access Programme) grants on offer and companies can apply for them through CESA. 
GulfHost is the foodservice equipment exhibition that attracts thousands of buyers and specifiers from the wealthy, dynamic and rapidly growing ME market – the region’s catering industry awarded contracts worth US$103bn in 2015 alone.  The 2018 show takes place from 16-18 of September at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
As a DIT (Department of International Trade) Trade Challenge Partner, CESA is the official organiser of the UK Pavilion at the exhibition.  “Last year the debut GulfHost was a real success and we were delighted with the number of business wins we achieved,” says Steve Witt, managing director of IMC, who exhibited at the show in 2017.
“For 2018 the organisers have given us a better location within the show,” says Stephen Goodliff, chair of the CESA Export Group.  The UK pavilion covers 288 square meters, so space is limited.  “I would urge any UK companies considering coming to get their skates on – especially if they want to apply for a TAP grant.”
CESA will also offer its usual package of support for members who exhibit at GulfHost, including pre-show administration, technical back-up, marketing and networking. 
For information about GulfHost and the TAP grants, contact Jocelyn Carr at CESA on 020 7793 3029 or email  
CESA also has TAP grants available for companies exhibiting at EquipHotel, in Paris in November 2018, and the NAFEM Show, in Orlando, Florida in February 2019.  TAP grants are subject to companies meeting eligibility conditions. 

​Refrigeration: energy efficiency improves but some manufacturers ignore energy labelling #

CESA says members are 100% compliant and agrees with’s call for more monitoring
There’s good news and bad news in’s analysis of the catering refrigeration market since the introduction of Minimum Energy Performance Standards, says CESA.  But the Association warns ‘non-compliant’ manufacturers to get their energy labelling act together – or learn to enjoy prison food! is the respected quango, linked to the EU Commission, that monitors the implementation of EU regulations.  Recently it published an overview of the Professional Refrigerated Storage Cabinets (PRSCs) market, which is the sector covered by MEPS and the Energy Labelling and Ecodesign Directives. 
The good news is that, in the period since the directives were introduced in July 2016, there has been a significant shift in energy efficiency, with a drop in the number of models rated as ‘D’ and an increase in those rated ‘C’.  This has led to the average energy index (EEI) dropping from 63% to 59% over the 12 months to September 2017 (the smaller the figure, the more energy efficient the ‘average’ model is). 
However, also found that some manufacturers are lagging behind in their energy labelling product declaration.  It visited 23 manufacturers’ websites, finding that 56% of 1,914 models checked were not compliant, since the energy label was not clearly displayed.  
“Our refrigeration supplier members have invested heavily, not only in developing more energy efficient models, but also in paying for the tests that are required to achieve an energy label rating,” says Keith Warren, director of CESA.  “Manufacturers who are ignoring the regulations are saving a fortune and thus giving themselves a totally unfair competitive advantage.  They are also in breach of the law.” acknowledges that there were ‘grey areas’ in terms of product definition.  However, the quango calls on the authorities to monitor the situation more carefully, to force those manufacturers who are ignoring regulations to comply, since this is the only way buyers can make informed decisions.   
“The whole point of the regulations is to give buyers the chance to compare the energy efficiency of different products by creating a level playing field,” says Warren.  “CESA absolutely supports’s call for effective monitoring.” 
Anyone finding evidence of non-compliance can report it to DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change).  The document, called ‘Declaration overview of storage refrigerators,’ has already been circulated to CESA members.  Copies are available to download from the CESA website or can be obtained direct from the CESA Secretariat. 

CFSP awards at Hotelympia 2018 #

“CFSP will really help when I talk to customers making decisions about equipment”
A group of CFSP graduates were presented with their accreditations at Hotelympia 2018, in a ceremony on the CESA stand on Wednesday 7 March.  Glenn Roberts, chair of CESA, welcomed them and congratulated them on their hard work in learning and passing the course.  “It’s not supposed to be easy,” he said. “Our industry isn’t easy, and the knowledge CFSP gives us is a real benefit in these increasingly difficult times.
“CFSP has been a success story for CESA,” he added.  “We have tried to create a benchmark, a standard of knowledge and professionalism.  I’m delighted to say that we now have 487 CFSP graduates in the UK.  They are people who are both ambitious and dedicated to our industry.”
One of the new graduates is Janet Caveney of RH Hall.  “My main expertise is in cooking equipment,” she says.  “However CFSP has broadened my knowledge to include warewashers, ventilation, kitchen design and so on.  It will really help when I talk to customers making decisions about equipment.  It was very worthwhile.” 
The next CFSP programme runs on 19 and 20 June 2018.  For information on CFSP courses visit

Premier Foods extends its award-winning Dysphagia Solutions Programme #

Premier Foods is proud to introduce the second phase of its Dysphagia Solutions Programme, a guide to creating nutritious, safe and appetising meals, which helps to ensure dignity in dining with dysphagia.
Launched at an exclusive industry event on 21 March, the guide includes a series of creative and inspirational recipe ideas, alongside practical tips and training. Key industry representatives attended the event, including the National Association of Care Catering.
Recipes will follow the new International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI), which standardises the framework for texture modified foods. Alongside the new guide, Premier Foods will be working with industry bodies to offer training and workshops to support chefs and caterers, as they transition towards using the new IDDSI framework within their kitchens.
This phase follows the successful launch in 2012 of Premier Foods’ Healthcare Solutions Programme, designed to improve the standard of catering for dysphagia sufferers in the healthcare sector. The programme initially focused on diets required for dysphagia, but momentum gathered and solutions were also developed for dementia and diabetes sufferers. The programme has included a mix of practical training along with the Dysphagia Chef of the Year competition – a first for the industry. Whilst progress has been made in demystifying these often misunderstood conditions, the hard work doesn’t stop there. Premier Foods continues to work collaboratively with the industry to understand the needs of businesses and the real-time challenges they face throughout all stages of the supply chain.
Mark Taylor, foodservice channel controller at Premier Foods, comments: “Following the launch of the IDDSI in the UK, we wanted to help demystify the new framework and help caterers and chefs begin creating and using recipes suitable for their dysphagia patients and residents. Our programme will build on the previous success of our Healthcare Solutions programme launched in 2012 and will include a mix of practical training, workshops, on-going advice and support to the industry.”
Chefs and Caterers can download the Premier Foods guide to International Dysphagia Diet Standards at