Category Archives: Events
Open only to the trade, the first show opened 17 years ago and since then, has expanded enormously to embrace all aspects of the speciality food market.
Kara Bowen, Event Manager, said “Speciality & Fine Food Fair has, without a doubt, been at the forefront of the UK’s gourmet food and drink industry for nearly 18 years. Buyers from retail, foodservice and wholesale rely on the Fair as it provides an exclusive opportunity for discovery and inspiration. It is also a fantastic platform for producers to grow their business.”
Debut and Returns
This year, more than 700 food and drink producers attended, including nearly 200 suppliers making their debut. Among a number of new features, the old favourites such as the Discovery Zone, the Great Taste Awards and the Chocolate Trail were eagerly awaited. The Discovery Zone unveiled the latest food and drink delights from new businesses. Its stands are exclusively reserved for companies who have only been trading in the UK for up to 36 months.
Despite the unpopular sugar tax, chocolate and confectionery are still firm favourites. The Speciality & Fine Food Fair is heralded as the UK’s finest trade showcase of luxury and gourmet chocolate. The Speciality Chocolate Trail did not disappoint and led visitors through the halls of Olympia to over 50 fine and artisan chocolate producers.
Savour the Flavour: Live Kitchen, also drew the crowds. It featured practical tips and advice from some of the industry’s best known chefs and personalities.
This demonstration was supplemented with Food for Thought which offered visitors workshops on trending topics, and Scale Up which provided in-depth round-table discussions on key business queries. Topics covered included Cooking Successfully with Allergies, Mastering Cheese and The Proof is the Provenance.
A company that attracted a lot of interest was Grub, which offered edible insects. Apparently, as well as being tasty, insects are nutritious and sustainable, high in protein, minerals like iron and calcium and containing essential amino acids like Omega 3 and 6!
The Speciality & Fine Food Fair offers a platform for artisan food and drink, from centuries old heritage brands to up-and-coming new food businesses. The success of the 2017 show is to be repeated next year from 2 to 4 September at the same venue.
So far the summer has been a success with hundreds of events being staged across the South West and people enjoying a few good weeks of sun. Now all schools have broken up and the annual problem of what to do with the kids is yet again frustrating parents. Now is the time to check out the many South West summer events of which here is a sample.
A well-hidden treasure is to be found at Morwellham Quay, a beautifully preserved Victorian village in Devon. This is a World Heritage site on the River Tamar, which features an historic port, a village and a copper mine.
However, Morwellham is better known for its narrow-gauge Mine Railway, which transports visitors along the banks of the Tamar and into the George and Charlotte copper mine. Here, the past is brought to life with real insights into the working conditions of Victorian miners. From 12 – 13 August, the venue is holding a Summer Festival of Steam Punk, celebrating the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s visit featuring music, dancing and lots of other events.
Glastonbury Abbey is hosting a King Arthur Workshop throughout the month of August which is guaranteed to keep the younger and older members of the family interested. Members of the Living History Team will be offering King Arthur-themed interactive family drama workshops, travelling back in time to the days of the Round Table and Excalibur. The event promises to be great fun for the whole family who can discover the past in unique style and see the myths and legends of Arthurian times from a new angle. The event runs on various dates from 1 – 29 August.
The ‘Midsummer Mayhem’ Family Fun Day is taking place on 5 August at The Bishops Palace in Wells Somerset. The South Lawn will be given over to the annual day with games for all ages, a bouncy castle, dressing up, face painting, crafts and activities and whether you bring a picnic or enjoy the food from The Bishop’s Table, the event is expected to draw large crowds.
Dip into the Arts
If however, you want some quality adult time for yourself, then take yourself down to the Iford Arts Festival, an internationally renowned event taking place in the Peto Garden of Iford Manor, near Bath in the South West of England.
According to the website, “captivating and intimate opera performances are staged in-the-round for an audience of 90 in the miniature Italianate cloister and are all sung in English.” Informal promenades are on offer together with seated cloister concerts are part of the festival programme and the award winning gardens present the perfect backdrop.
Finally, make a note in your diaries (4 November) for the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival, the UK’s largest winter carnival. It has its roots back in the 1600s, when the people of Somerset took effigies of Guy Fawkes to be burnt after the foiled Gunpowder plot. Nowadays, the procession comprises over 100 bright floats, music and dancing and is visited by crowds of up to 150,000, who all stay around until the procession ends to watch ‘squibbing’, described as “an explosive tradition where hundreds of fireworks on sticks are held out along the road, giving the effect of light raining down.”
There are so many South West summer events, why not take advantage of the events on offer and take a day out to visit the region to see for yourself.
There can be no better location for a trade show than the Three Counties Showground in rural Malvern. The town where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein often met for a social pint (check out the Unicorn pub) is overshadowed by the Malvern Hills. The showground lies at the foot of the hills and has a vast amount of space to host the annual Food & Drink Trade Show. The show was billed as a unique blend of inspirational speciality food and drink products and exhibitors ranged from small, regional suppliers to international traders.
Decision makers from the food service and hospitality, caterers, cafes, guest houses, hotels and restaurants, holiday parks, takeaways and pubs attended the event. Representatives from numerous retail outlets from delicatessens to farm shops and grocers, supermarkets to tourist attractions, garden centres and independent stores also came to see what was on new in food and drink.
Food & Drink Trade Show Offers
The show offers were a fantastic incentive for visitors, with price deductions and free tasters for anyone purchasing at the show. Boddington’s Berries offered 10% of any orders placed at the show. Ethical Addictions Coffee promised free delivery, installation and training on all Fracino espresso machines ordered or a free grinder. Particularly popular was When in Rome who offered free shipping and a wooden wine refill dispenser. While those ordering over 20 wine boxes also could get 20 free refillable bottles.
There were plenty of other goodies. Blacks Cheese showed off its range of award-winning cheese made allegedly, “with love, milk and some magic.” Celtic Vale’s Natural Mineral Water and Hatterrall Ridge Spring Water are bottled at source from two natural springs locally situated in the Herefordshire/Welsh borders.
Aagrah Foods exhibited its Kashmiri and Indian Tarka cooking sauces, handmade in Yorkshire. While local company Hamptons Sweet Cakes went down a treat! And Hay Wines revealed its exclusive range of Proseccos, including the UK’s only zero sugar Prosecco. The selection also included good-value organic, vegan, low-sulphite, natural wines featuring the only sparkling orange wine.
The Demo Kitchen was very well populated, with chef demonstrations taking place on the Love Food Roadshow‘s demonstration kitchen. Hosted by celebrity chef, Felice Tocchini, the kitchen featured a range of exciting and informative cookery demonstrations.
Other chefs included Andy Link, chef patron at the acclaimed Riverside Inn at Aymestry, a finalist in the ‘Best Eating Out’ category at the Visit Herefordshire Awards for Excellence 2016. Local chef Matt Slocombe recently won the ‘Best Cider Pub’ in the Great British Pub awards. His pub, the Crown Inn at Woolhope was recognised for its Sunday lunches in the Best British Roast Dinner Awards. Yvette Farrell, Principal of Harts Barn Cookery School, demonstrated her signature Taste of Forest Menu. This comprised forest mushroom ravioli, griddled wild boar with wilted buttered garlic greens.
The Malvern Food & Drink Trade Show organisers were delighted with the turnout, the quality of visitors and welcoming a number of newcomers to the event.
Now in its seventh year, the show returned triumphantly to the NEC with a multitude of speakers, stands and awards for food retailers. It was heralded as the biggest show to date with over 450 exhibitors on hand to showcase their food, beverage, gifts and equipment products.
This specialist retail event not only offered innovation but product sampling, informative sessions and of course, the annual Farm Shop & Deli Awards ceremony. Overall, there were 13 category winners and nine regional winners, recognising the best specialist independent UK retailers. The winners were selected from a plethora of entries and over 3,000 consumer votes.
South West Representation
The South West region was proudly represented and Hobbs House Bakery from Tetbury in Gloucestershire came away with Baker of the Year and South West regional winner. Winners of the first ever Newcomer of the Year Award, Brace of Butchers from Dorchester, also reached the finals in the Butcher of the Year category.
Apart from the awards, there were a number of sessions held by experienced and stimulating speakers. Topics covered learning how to maximise profits whilst embracing innovation, chaired by renowned chef, Richard Fox. Saira Khan hosted a talk on customer engagement. Paul Hargreaves CEO of Cotswold Fayre, showed visitors how to harness people power and how to build a workplace community to empower teams and enable retailers to retain their top talent.
The predominant theme of the show was innovation. The Farm Shop & Deli Show showcased concepts and creations in products, ingredients, drinks, equipment and digital tools. New Fori Bars, marketed as “the love child of premium jerky and a top-notch granola bar,” and proved popular with the visitors. These are meat-based snack protein-bars-with-a-twist combining high-quality meat with fruit and seeds available in Piri Piri Chicken, Moroccan Lamb and Chilli Beef varieties. Based in Llanelli South Wales, the company uses organic apricots and dates avoiding sulphites and sorbates.
Other innovative products included:
- Low Sugar Brownies, Blondies, and Greenies from Adonis Smart Foods created in response to a lack of low sugar snacks and contain mainly nuts, seeds and fibres.
- Raisthorpe Oak-Aged Yorkshire Gin which takes mineral water from an ancient spring in Raisthorpe and then distils this with watercress and fresh botanicals.
Dragon’s Pantry was held during the show and was an immediate success. Daring entrepreneurs braved a panel of industry ‘dragons’ to pitch new products and in return received professional (even brutal) advice on perfecting their pitch before braving the presentation sessions.
Finally, one of the most attended events was the 2017 Britain’s Best Loaf competition, sponsored by Rank Hovis, which took place at the Farm Shop & Deli Show. There were five categories – sourdough, wholegrain, white, innovation and gluten-free and the competition was harsh!
Another show and another success from the NEC. The Farm Shop & Deli Show will return to the same venue next April.
According to a 2016 report, the UK events industry sector is worth a minimum of £42.3B to the UK economy. Conferences and meetings are the most lucrative, followed by exhibitions and trade events with sporting events a close third.
With over 25,000 businesses in the sector, it is a market that is continuing to grow and for caterers, this presents an ideal opportunity.
2016 saw a notable rise in demand for conferences and meetings. This has been put down to the growing need for companies to communicate with staff and contacts face-to-face.
In addition, certain industries, such as pharmaceutical and finance, have seen changes to laws and regulations. This has led to a rise in meetings, as companies rush to update staff. Add Brexit to the mix as companies meet with clients to discuss the proposed changes and the result is clear: corporate is coming back.
The rise of the unusual venue
There are more than 7,000 major outdoor events held each year from festivals, agricultural shows, sporting and charity events through to smaller local craft events. This shows the capacity of the UK events industry to effectively host such events.
One area that has been increasing in popularity is the unique and unusual venue market. These venues range from wineries, sporting stadia, guildhalls, zoos, ships, theatres, castles, racecourses, visitor attractions, museums and distilleries. In fact anywhere that can accommodate people.
Unusual venues have always been very popular for corporate events. The government and public sector are particularly fond of unusual venues, which are used for 30% of their business.
However, choosing an unusual venue is not a random act. Corporate organisers choose a venue that has to motivate, inspire and encourage their clients. Although the classic purpose-built conference centre or hotel group still take most market share, unusual and unique venues are rapidly catching up.
How unique are you?
Unique is described as “something arresting, with individualism and personality, something outside of convention, defined by its difference”. Unusual venues offer rarity, and are pleasantly surprising, and rewarding and often capitalise on the UK’s culture, history and heritage. Castles and museums may be tourist attractions but for the events organisers, they’re also ideal venues.
Regardless of the venue, attendees have to be fed, and for the catering industry the UK events market is massively lucrative. If you are involved in catering, keep your eyes open for venues that could be suitable for corporate meetings and suggest them to events organisers. Or maybe suggest your own venue. Meetings and conferences are making a comeback, so make sure you jump on the bandwagon!
In sport, Barcelona have shown that they have the power to overcome with a stunning unexpected 6-1 win over Paris St Germain to reach the quarter finals of the Champions League. While England move onto the edge of back to back Grand Slams with a visit to Ireland to seal it.
March and April are busy months for sport. Austria is hosting the Special Olympics World Winter Games from 14 to 24 March. With 4.4 million athletes from 170 countries, the Special Olympics organisation is the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with any intellectual disability.
For golfing fans, April 3 signifies the start of the Masters Tournament in Augusta, USA. The Tournament was first played in 1934 and has been an eagerly viewed sporting favourite ever since.
For those who like facts and figures, Jack Nicklaus has the most Master victories, chalking up six wins between 1963 and 1986. The youngest winner of the Masters was Tiger Woods, who was 21 years, 104 days old when he won in 1997 and the youngest entrant was Guan Tianlang at the tender age of 14 years and 5 months.
April 8 is a massive day in the horse racing calendar when punters try their luck on the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse. This National Hunt race is a handicap steeplechase over four miles 3½ furlongs, with 30 fences over two circuits. First run in 1839, it stirs the nation like no other horse racing event, with millions spent on betting for the race.
If you fancy something a little more interactive and local, try the Dawlish Walking Festival 21 April to 1 May. The festival is organised by Destination Dawlish, a partnership project aiming to encourage more walking and cycling in and around Dawlish. The walking schedule includes long rambles as well as short explorations.
Or how does a spooky walk through Cheltenham sound? Cheltenham Ghost Tour takes place on Friday 14 April. It is one of the events that the town has put on for locals and visitors. The darker side of Regency Cheltenham will be revealed, with tales of “unexplained supernatural events such as spooky maids at one of the town’s major hotels, murderous butlers, Cheltenham’s very own Jack the Ripper suspect, and tales of witchcraft from further afield in the Cotswolds!”
If, however, you prefer something a little less daunting, then there’s always Dinosaur Quest, taking place at Kents Cavern Prehistoric Caves, Torquay. From 1 to 23 April, there will be cave tours all day every day with lots of Easter activities.
With Easter coming up, there are plenty of events to choose from. These include Agatha Christie’s home, Greenway which will be opened up for a Cadbury Egg Hunt from 1 April. Clues will be given to point you in the right direction to gain chocolate treats.
Spring is in the air and caterers, pubs, restaurants and event hosts are gearing up to welcome the public. If you are a caterer, then make sure that your kitchen appliances are in full working order. Book a service with AC Services and have peace of mind that your equipment is in the best working order to satisfy demand. And then why not promote your own spring events.
2017 has got off to a great start in the food industry. Despite the shortages of vegetables in the supermarkets thanks to the bad weather in Spain, the UK is continuing its tradition of excellence in terms of exhibitions.
The first big show of the year, the Great Hospitality Show took place at the NEC from 23 to 25 January.
Packed with products and exhibitors, this is the UK’s largest event for the hospitality and foodservice industry in 2017. It has also been heralded as the only show focusing on the business of hospitality.
Trends and Innovations
The show provides a platform for networking and a showcase for cutting edge products across catering equipment, food and drink, interiors and technology. The event featured a wide range of fresh talent, future trends and innovations to help the industry. The three days saw numerous debates, seminars and demonstrations.
The Salon Culinaire at Great Hospitality Show encompassed a broad range of classes for competitors of all levels, from cocktail mixology to preparing a best end of lamb to filleting lemon sole. The Business Briefing Stage provided an invaluable selection of business seminars. These targeted the main current issues surrounding British hospitality, delivering industry insight, debate and discussion on the trends making the headlines.
The Staff Canteen Live allowed visitors to witness the culinary skills of some of the UK’s leading chefs in a highly interactive environment. Chefs were able to offer advice and take questions throughout their whole cooking demonstration and explain their cooking skills to visitors. Chefs included Glynn Purnell of Purnell’s with by head pastry chef, Luke Butcher, Dom Chapman from The Beehive, Shay Cooper from The Goring Hotel London and André Garrett, executive chef at Cliveden House.
Great Product Awards
The Great Product Awards were unveiled during the Great Hospitality Show and attracted a great deal of attention. The 12 shortlisted entrants were selected from the sectors of food and drink, catering equipment, technology and interiors and tableware.
The entrants included the SuperFast Thermapen 4 from Electronic Temperature Instruments Limited. This accurately measures the temperature of a product in just three seconds, saving chefs time in busy kitchens.
NAH Foods Ltd showcased its Konjac allergen free spaghetti. This only needs to be heated through rather than cooked thus making it a quick and easy product for chefs.
The GIZGO pod from iQi Charge Ltd is a portable charger with an integrated iPhone and android cable plus two USB ports. This product allows customers to charge their phones at the table, helping businesses increase footfall, dwell time and revenue.
The eventual winner was BGL Rieber’s Thermoport Midi-K, insulated food transport box.
The show returns in 2019. In the meantime, at AC Services (Southern) we will be watching the trends in hospitality industry closely to continue to provide the best service for our many clients.
Armistice Day has hit the headlines, at least on the back pages of the tabloids, thanks to the Prime Minister’s intervention in the debate over whether international footballers should wear the poppy emblem on the field on 11 November.
Calling the ban decision “utterly outrageous”, Theresa May has backed the FA and SFA’s rejection of the ban on England and Scotland’s footballers wearing black armbands bearing poppies in their 11 November World Cup qualifying match.
Although FIFA insists that the football laws prohibit political or religious messages from players’ kit, many, including the FA believe that displaying poppies represents respect for the fallen. In a statement, the FA said: “The FA intend to pay appropriate tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice by having the England team wear black armbands bearing poppies in our fixture on Armistice Day.”
The strength of feeling echoes the sentiment around the country about remembering the Great War. Events are taking place this weekend across the nation, with many centred in the South West and Wales. On Saturday 12 November 2016, the University of Worcester’s annual Women’s History Conference is taking place with debates about the significance of the First World War as an agent of social change for women. This conference will focus on women’s voluntary involvement in charities, organisations and local politics.
Tanks and Poppies
Moving further south, the Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset is continuing its exhibition of the story of the tank, from its invention in 1915 through the 20th century and into the future. On 13 November, a commemorative service will take place, attended by serving soldiers, veterans and their families and members of the public. The service will take place in the Cold War Hall with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Royal Armoured Corps Memorial, followed by a unique display of poppies dropped from planes. The service is free to attend on a first-come, first-served basis.
In Wales, Caernarfon Castle is the first location in Wales to host the ‘Poppies: Weeping Window’, a display by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. The concept is a cascade comprising several thousand handmade ceramic poppies, originally seen at the Tower of London as part of the installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’. Caernarfon Castle is hosting a number of WWI commemoration events, as part of the Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918 national centenary programme of remembrance.
The Devon Remembers Heritage Project is giving local people a chance to explore the county’s experience in the First World War, led by the South West Heritage Trust. There will be a programme of high profile events, talks and activities around Devon as well as First World War learning events.
At the core of the project is the establishment of the Devon Remembers Collection within the Devon Archives and Local Studies Collection, a collection of archive material related to Devon’s contribution to the Great War, which will permanently available to all those interested.
Whatever the event, here at AC Services (Southern) we will be on hand to help with caterers, restaurants and pubs who may be staging commemorative events. If you need any advice or have any problems with your Rational ovens, contact us and we will be more than happy to help you.
A chocolate fair: no other combination of words brings more satisfaction. And the Speciality Chocolate Fair, which took place last week at the Speciality and Fine Food Fair at Olympia lived up to all expectations.
As the UK’s only trade event for fine and artisan chocolate, the Speciality Chocolate Fair brought together a host of chocolate-related events including a live demonstration theatre with line-up of chocolatiers and pastry chefs.
Of particular interest was smoked chocolate, one of the most delightful delicacies on show. The Indian Chocolate stand offered Earth Loaf’s smoked salt and almond chocolate. This uses 72% dark chocolate with cacao husk smoked sea salt, palmyra sugar and North Indian almonds.
However, the main show covered a whole range of edibles and exhibitions. Demonstrations took place in the Fine Food Live kitchen focusing on practical advice and tips on the industry’s current trends from some of the most experienced chefs and personalities.
The Business Mentoring Centre was available throughout the show. It had SME experts on hand to offer free bespoke advice on any aspect of running a business. Attracting a lot of attention was the Small Producer Village, a dedicated area within Speciality and Fine Food Fair for brand new companies to the industry.
The Innovation Zone and pitching stage was a new section this year, presented by Grocery Accelerator. This was largest of its kind at a UK trade show and represented a one-stop location for exciting new products to be discovered.
Great Taste Awards
Then there were the Great Taste Awards where all top 50 finalists were showcased. The Great Taste Award overall winner was announced on the evening of the second night. Great Taste is the stamp of approval for great-tasting food and drink. It has been recognised as the UK’s largest and most trusted accreditation scheme for food producers.
The finalists included Delicioso UK, with pistachio nut oil, almond and walnut oil; Bramley and Gage with sweet vermouth, 6 o’clock gin and 6 o’clock damson gin; and coconut jam from Coconut Merchant.
Seminars included talks on a variety of interesting and topical subjects such as the future rise of fermented food, with their probiotic benefits. My personal favourite was entitled ‘chocolate and wine, making the best of both.’ Speaker, Jane Parkinson demonstrated wines that work brilliantly with different types of chocolate, dispelling the myth that chocolate can’t pair with wine. Tanya Maher answered questions on raw food, including what sweeteners are available to use in raw food uncooking and why eat dessert first.
As always the show was a huge success and was extremely well attended. Next year, the Speciality and Fine Food Fair runs from 3 to 5 September at Olympia so put it in the diary now!
England is renowned for its quaint traditions, especially Gloucestershire, where strange and ancient events take place annually. Where else can you see cheeses rolling down a hill, football matches in rivers or burning tar barrels carried on the backs of local townsfolk?
Here at AC Services (Southern) we relish the unusual and the quirky and the town of Painswick in Gloucestershire is up there amongst the best. Every year, on the Sunday after the Feast of the Nativity of St. Mary (in everyone’s calendar, surely), there is the Painswick Clypping Ceremony.
This year taking place Sunday 25 September, the event is still going strong since it was revived in Victorian times. The Clypping ceremony involves the parishioners of St. Mary’s at Painswick joining hands around the church exterior and dancing around it singing their Clypping Hymn as part of a patronal festival.
Puppy Dog Pie is an integral part of the festival. Although myth has it that a local innkeeper served up his pet pooch when he ran out of meat, today the only meat that the Puppy Dog Pie contains is chunks of beef! However, in keeping with the old tradition, china dogs (neither too small to be swallowed nor too big to detract from the flavour) are symbolically baked in the pies.
Ducks and Giant Otters
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, make your way to the Slimbridge Wetland Centre where there is the launch of a new Celebrity Dusty Duck Trail this year to celebrate its 70th anniversary. The trail features six-foot-tall Dusty along with 14 giant models designed by celebrities. The event is on until 1 September but if you miss out, there is always the Giant LEGO® Trail at the same venue from 17 September to 6 November. The LEGO® brick models include a giant otter and a huge twelve-times life-sized dragonfly!
If you can’t think of anything else to do on 11 September, try the Speech House Vintage Show, a steam and vintage machinery family day out in the Forest of Dean. Children’s amusements, trade stalls, live music, falconry displays and duck herding are just some of the events taking place in Coleford.
Also at Speech House on 2 October is the Forest Showcase Food & Drink Festival with a wide selection of over 100 local food stalls ranging from handmade scotch eggs, artisan breads, local beers, preserves, farmhouse ciders, cheeses, homemade cakes and pastries. Not to be missed is the turnip tossing competition.
And don’t miss the Newent Onion Fayre on 10 September 2016. Hazarding a wild guess, this show is presumably focused on onions: apparently there’s a traditional onion eating contest, best onion and other competitions and even the opportunity to enjoy some onion soup! There’s also live music, a dog show and a funfair for those who really don’t like onions.
It’s never dull in Gloucestershire so take advantage of the events at the end of the summer. Do something out of the ordinary and eat whatever takes your fancy!