Category Archives: News
So the big day is not far away, for which the country stocks up on totally unnecessary items for the festive period just in case they are needed. It’s amazing what you find on your shelves in February.
But rejoice, it’s at least another year before we hear those dreaded words again – Black Friday – and to put it in a political context, it’s only two more Brexit ministers till Christmas.
Shops have initiated Operation Santa Claus Frenzy and kids are busy writing lists using the Argos catalogue as a template.
If you followed my advice, you will have ordered the necessary cleaning accessories and booked to have your oven checked over before the holidays begin. If you haven’t, then get on to it today. Put it on that list! For those who live by the chaos theory, although the offices are closed on the key dates, we will still have engineers on call on the days in between because we know that sometimes bad things happen at the worst possible time. But just in case you are in any doubt, see below for clarification of our Christmas working hours.
AC Services Christmas Opening Times 2018
Here are AC Services Christmas opening times for 2018:
- Thursday 20th December – normal opening hours – 8.15 a.m. to 5.15 p.m
- Friday 21st December – normal opening hours – 8.15 a.m. to 5.15 p.m
- Saturday 22nd December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
- Sunday 23rd December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
- Monday 24th December – Christmas Eve – office open – 8.15am to 3 p.m
- Tuesday 25th December – Christmas Day, CLOSED
- Wednesday 26th December – Boxing Day, CLOSED
- Thursday 27th December – office open 8.30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (engineers available)
- Friday 28th December – office open 8.30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (engineers available)
- Saturday 29th December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
- Sunday 30th December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
- Monday 31st December – office open – 8.30am to 3 p.m
- Tuesday 1st January – CLOSED
It’s back to normal working hours on Wednesday 2nd January.
If you have an emergency with your appliance telephone 01454 322222 and press the appropriate option so we can help you as quickly as we can. If you have a non-urgent issue, leave a message for when the office is next open.
Importantly, don’t forget to order stock parts and cleaning products. The VERY LAST DATE for guaranteed Christmas delivery for an order to be placed is Wednesday 19th December at 5 p.m. We recommend that you CHECK your stock now, to make sure that you have everything you need.
The BBC Good Food Shows have kicked off the season. Last week, it was the turn of the NEC to host one of the most eagerly-awaited food shows of the year.
With Christmas just around the corner, the flagship Winter Show offered a feast for visitors of produce and entertainment. Top chefs joined exhibitors to present a veritable smorgasbord of culinary delights. These included demonstrations, new products and fabulous retail opportunities.
The Birmingham Winter Show combined the UK’s greatest cookery experts, with plenty of festive inspiration and live entertainment in the Big Kitchen and other stages. Greeting visitors to the NEC was the show’s new contribution, Street Food. Brand new for 2018, delicious street food made a successful appearance at the Show. An army of street food vendors in the outside areas, brought a huge selection of ready to eat food for all visitors.
The Big Kitchen is always the highlight of the show. Here top celebrity chefs cook festive recipes and share tips for seasonal winter foods. Tom Kerridge and Michael Roux Junior were just two of the famous names demonstrating their skills to the public. The highlight was the demonstration by everyone’s favourite Bake Off judge, Mary Berry.
This year, the Big Kitchen was sponsored by Travelsphere, who offered additional free themed sessions to the menu. This included a taste of India with Cyrus Todiwala, chef patron of Cafe Spice Namaste, award-winning Pan-Indian restaurant in London and also Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen and The River Restaurant (in Goa). A taste of Spain was presented by José Pizarro described as the Godfather of Spanish cooking.
BBC Good Food Stage
Barney Desmazery hosted the BBC Good Food stage. There, he offered live interviews into our favourite chefs’ success and seasonal advice from some local foodie experts too. The sessions involved an interview with Nadiya Hussain and a masterclass from Stacie Stewart.
The BBC Good Food Pop-Up Restaurant offered a sit-down meal, of two or three courses, inspired by some of the most popular seasonal dishes from the country’s leading food website, www.bbcgoodfood.com. The succulent menu presented delights such as:
- chicken, leek, smoked bacon and apricot terrine with watercress salad,
- baked goat’s cheese with beetroot, honey and thyme and
- main courses including garlic cheese-stuffed turkey breast wrapped in pancetta, with parmesan roast potatoes, buttered sprouts and glazed carrots.
The Winter Kitchen, sponsored by Magimix inspired by a range of seasonal dishes for the festive season with contributions from Mary Berry, James Martin, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith amongst many other top chefs. Complementary to this was the Skills School where a number of experts shared their secrets from knife skills with Zwilling to sourdough masterclasses.
At AC Services Southern, we think it’s always a good idea to attend the Good Food Shows. These help us to learn new trends and to judge consumer reactions. That way our business never gets stale.
Tradition plays a major role in choosing Christmas food. At some point before the big day, we decide where and when to do The Big Shop. And it’s a major event in the calendar. Whether it’s off to one of the high street supermarkets or down to the local butcher for the Christmas turkey.
But tastes change significantly: more and more people, especially younger members of the family are making life choices. Some become vegans or vegetarians, some are gluten or lactose intolerant, others demand free range…so as a commercial buyer, where do you source your Christmas turkey?
Turkey All Round
Wherever you are in South West England and South Wales, there is an easy way to find your closest turkey farm by using the NFU finder . Just enter your postcode and set the range. The list of local farms pops up for you to contact like Harts in Gloucestershire
If you are near Exeter, Rosamondford Turkey Farm provides traditional, naturally reared Devon turkeys. The turkeys roam the pastures and are fed on the finest locally produced ingredients. All turkeys are dry-plucked and hand finished to avoiding bruising or marking of the bird. All birds are grown, prepared and supplied on the farm premises. They are only fed a natural cereal and vegetable protein diet without additives or animal proteins. The flavour comes from dense meat and natural marbling.
In South Devon is Scobbiscombe Farm, a National Trust owned farm in Kingston. The turkeys have been specially bred to grow slowly. The farm also supplies the ‘TINY’ breed of turkey. This is a smaller bird without compromising on the importance of rearing to full maturity.
As a member of the Traditional Farmfresh Turkey Association, assurance is provided of the highest quality turkey and the highest standards in welfare, traditional methods and hygiene. As far as the turkeys go their welfare is identical to that of birds reared on well−run organic enterprises. The turkeys arrive as day-old chicks at the end of June each year and are carefully reared under heat lamps until 5-6 weeks of age. They are fed on a proprietary turkey food which is supplemented with home-grown cereals from 10 weeks of age and they live until approximately 23 weeks of age twice the age that many supermarket turkeys will live.
Organic turkey is available in many places but if you are catering in Wales, there is the award-winning organic and free range poultry from Capestone Organic Poultry Ltd . Today the business is run by Justin Scale, the fifth generation to farm at Capestone with all poultry reared, produced and processed on site.
Traditional organic farming methods and working with nature produce a slower-growing bird, reared and produced from slow growing bronze strains. The turkeys have constant daytime access to lush organic pastures on which they are free to roam and forage from four weeks of age.
Don’t Forget the Sprouts
Just space to mention fruit and veg: from fruit to vegetables and from dairy to salads, Milfords supplies a vast area in the south west supplying loose and pre-packed fruit across Devon, Dorchester and Somerset locally from the West Country whenever possible.
In Wales, Peter Broughton Cardiff, is one of Wales’ largest independent fresh fruit and vegetable suppliers. Their fleet of refrigerated trucks, trailers and vans are ready to distribute food, offering exceptional freshness and quality. From kale to carrots, from swede to purple sprouting broccoli, everything is catered for!
Wherever you get your Christmas turkey, it’s still not too late to source locally.
We all forget something at this time of year. Sometimes the little things don’t matter, like forgetting to stock up on batteries for those annoying, noisy little gadgets that relatives take great delight in buying for the younger members of the family. But if you run out of cleaning products for your appliance, then it could be very costly indeed.
You must make sure that you have equipped yourself with plenty of oven cleaning materials.
Rational Self-Cooking-Centers have automatic cleaning programmes built into their software which makes life a lot easier. When combined with the right proprietary cleaning materials from AC Services, the ovens are not just clean but hygienic. A word of warning: using non-compatible products can cause long-term damage to your oven, can invalidate any warranty and can cause all sorts of costly problems, so make sure that you buy the products from us. It’s akin to putting petrol into a diesel car.
The most important thing is not to forget to place your order for your oven cleaning materials in sufficient time. If you are a catering establishment, there are so many things to consider at Christmas: the food, the décor, the orders, the extra staff…it all mounts up.
And most people have a tendency to leave things until the last moment. When they finally do remember, or simply get around to doing it, it’s often too late. So don’t leave it to the last moment to order your cleaning materials.
Lucky for you, our online shop is a lifesaver! Our aim, as always is to maintain the highest levels of customer service and although online sales may appear simply impersonal transactions, we still want to maintain the personal touch by making it a fast and simple process. It takes no time at all to enter an order and wait for the despatch of the goods.
The On-line Rational Cleaning Range
Our cleaning products are as follows:
- Rational Oven Cleaner Tab (x100): highly concentrated tablets specially developed. A new complex set of active ingredients designed to guarantee maximum cleaning power.
- Tablets for Rational Oven Care (x150) with special scale-dissolving ingredients contained to prevent limescale building up. They give reliability without a water softener and the need for time-consuming descaling.
- Rational Rinse Tablets (x50) highly effective care products ensuring active protection.
- Rational’s Grill Cleaner (10 litres) for use with a hand spray gun.
- Rational Rinse Aid (10 litres).
To order your Rational cleaning products, simply go to our online shop or call us on 01454 322222 for more advice.
11 November 2018 marks a significant date in the history of the world. At 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month, the First World War – the Great War – ended. Germany signed the armistice prepared by Britain and France and the guns fell silent. Britain, France and all of the countries that supported them, celebrated the end of a heinous war that lasted four years and four months. Millions died, not only in battle but from the terrible living conditions they faced during that time.
Since then, the red poppy has become a symbol of peace and remembrance used since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war. It was inspired by the WWI poem In Flanders Fields then adopted by military veterans’ groups in parts of the British Empire and then throughout the world.
Lest We Forget
Remembrance Day 2018 commemorations will take on a special centenary meaning for all those involved. Across the country, beacons will be lit and special services taking place to mark the 100 years since the end of the war. Weymouth is conducting a Beacon Lighting event, known nationally as the `Battles Over’ taking place at the Nothe Fort starting at 6pm on 11 November. The event will feature performances from the Bovington Military Wives Choir and the Decadettes followed by a service and will encompass elements of the traditional Remembrance Service normally held at Holy Trinity Church.
In Wales, Gwent’s St Woolos Cathedral will host a free day of events to mark the centenary with music from the U3A choir, Newport rugby club choir, and the local Boys’ Brigade band. Re-enactments will include a World War One surgeon, a Monmouthshire Regiment infantryman, and a member of the Royal Flying Corps. Caerleon Remembers will mark the centenary with a tribute of words and music from local choirs as well as an exhibition. The concert will take place on Saturday, November 10 from 7pm at St Cadoc’s Church. 100 red poppies will also be seen on the Wales Air Ambulance (WAA) aircraft as a sign of respect.
Poppy of Honour 2018
In Wincanton, a commemorative Poppy of Honour has already been unveiled. Over 250,000 individual volunteers and businesses have joined forces to create an eight-foot steel and glass poppy-shaped sculpture, the first memorial of its kind, dedicated to the 1,117,635 British and Commonwealth service personnel, killed or declared missing in action in the war. 1,117,635 individual poppies are contained within, all labelled with the details of the men and women who died. In early 2019, the Poppy will embark on a major tour around the United Kingdom and Southern Ireland, before being displayed at the Tower of London.
And in Bristol, The Bristol Festival of Remembrance will take place at Bristol Cathedral on 10 November, presented by Terry Waite CBE. The evening begins with orchestral pieces, choral works, readings and a performance by local children, and the night will finish with a performance of Karl Jenkins’ The Peacemakers, a piece dedicated to all those who have lost their lives during armed conflict. On 11 November, also at Bristol Cathedral is Duruflé’s Requiem performed by Bristol Cathedral Choir. Admission is free.
Finally, the annual act of remembrance at Wells Cathedral this year will feature John Rutter’s Requiem, a free event taking place from 3-4pm on 11 November followed by a devotional service, interspersed with War Poetry.
Autumn is well and truly upon us. With the best summer in decades behind us, it’s now time to look forward to the Christmas season. In the South West, plenty has been going on involving the food industry. Not least the beginning of construction on the new South West food innovation centre. And elsewhere in Wales food is in the news.
Wilmott Dixon secured the £11.3 million construction contract from North Somerset Council to build the FoodWorksSW facility in Weston-super-Mare. This will provide specialist facilities and technical support and will create around 250 new jobs.
The facility is designed to provide a range of specialist facilities and technical support for food and drink manufacturers across the South West region. It will help new businesses to get started and established producers to expand. A private sector-led project advisory group is liaising with the council on the ins and outs of the food industry.
In other news, it appears that the South West is on schedule for a record breaking year of exports. Somerset exported £10.5bn worth of goods in the first half of 2018, up on the same period last year. A lot of the credit is down to the region’s food and drink sector with new businesses popping up constantly.
One of these is a new wine school for the South West. This has just been launched with the support of a trio of the region’s well known wine experts. The South West Wine School will offer WSET Level 1 and 2 courses at Kenton Park Estate in Devon from the beginning of next year. The venture aims to make learning about wine “fun and enjoyable for enthusiasts of all levels”.
Wales Food Fights Back
Wales has also been in the news recently, with an alarming statistic about the presence of fast food restaurants. It seems that in part of Wales, a staggering 73% of all restaurants are selling fast food. The culprit is Blaenau Gwent with 55 out of 75 outlets takeaway venues. According to a recent report, Wales has seen a rise of 48% in fast food outlets from 2010 to 2018. While in the UK average increase is 34%.
Based on figures from the Office of National Statistics, Wales has had 670 fast food outlets open in the past eight years. Neath Port Talbot saw its numbers more than double from 50 to 105. People are simply too busy to cook, says Professor Haboubi, chair of the Welsh Obesity Society adding, “it is not the businesses’ fault, we have a societal disease“. However, Wales is not taking this lightly, with many initiatives planned to address the issue including the opening of a new food academy.
Recipe for Success
Celebrity chef Bryn Williams launched a Wales food academy offering Coleg Cambria students the opportunity to work and train in his restaurants. Launched last week at Cambria’s Y Celstryn restaurant in Deeside, the Bryn Williams Academy is aiming to help plug the ever-increasing skills gap in catering and hospitality.
“There are so many more places to eat, so many more kitchens and restaurants… the talent pool has spread so there is a very thin layer now and that needs addressing. It’s so important we inspire the children of today to become chefs in the future because the industry has grown beyond all comprehension,” he explains.
AC Services October News
Here at AC Services we’re investigating the advantages of the Rational connected cooking function. Launched last year this is an intelligent cloud-based networked solution that enables the setting of remote cooking functions and maintenance monitoring. We’ll let those in the SW and Wales food businesses know more in 2019.
Boutique hotels are categorised as small and intimate establishments, far away from the mighty conglomerates that appear in every town and city of the UK. These hotels are usually located in the most hip and fashionable urban areas. Their charm generally lies in their stylish design decor and personal touches that distinguish them from other hotel brands.
Interestingly, it wasn’t until 1981 that the first official boutique hotel opened in London.
Over the past two years, the sector has seen stellar growth. Independent hotel rooms still comprise more than half of the serviced accommodation rooms in the UK. The Independent Hotel Show managed to encapsulate the enthusiasm for the future development of the sector.
Over the two days seminars addressed relevant topics and offered advice to independent and boutique hotel owners and managers. These seminars covered everything, from managing websites to design using limited space, offering the best service possible and tips and tactics to ramp up food and beverage options to keep menus fresh.
Among the more interesting discussions was one on trends for the future. A hotel stay is more than just a room for the night and customers expect more than just the basic levels. Guests want to know what else is on offer. This has led to the rise of combination hotels. A basic example is the hotel and spa. This has expanded to giddy heights such as a hotel and art gallery in Beijing and a hotel and perfumery in Paris. These hotels are now known as slashy hotels. This term first came to prominence in the film, Zoolander, where it referred to model/actors.
On a more local level, visitors want to book a whole experience in one place. The 2018 Independent Hotel Show offered invaluable advice on how hotels can best offer local expertise and knowledge via local experience packages. The Show also focused on the importance of technology offering convenience. These include being able to control the temperature and lighting in the room via apps, and virtual concierge to allow guests to make requests quickly without needing to leave the room.
Other trends involve pop-up hotels, especially those associated with festivals or other events. This trend is complemented by glamping, described as a hybrid of camping and hotel-stays. For the catering industry, this is a major opportunity, especially for mobile caterers in the locality.
Finally, the centrepiece of the 2018 Independent Hotel Show was the Hotel Bedroom of the Future immersive installation. Luxury bedroom specialists Two’s Company built this “inspired by the results of several intense research sessions with industry experts”.
We may moan about the cost of living and in particular, the cost of food but a report commissioned from data research company Euromonitor shows that in the UK, in fact, we are better off than most of the world.
On average, Britons spend 8% of their total household expenditure on food eaten at home. Only America and Singapore spend less. In context, Nigerians spend 59% of their household budget on food to be eaten at home with Greeks spending 16%.
What is more, UK food consumption is the cheapest in Western Europe at 8% less than the EU average. We are spending less on food than our grandparents ever did! While housing and leisure costs have doubled in the past 60 years, the amount of household income spent on food has more than halved.
Why is this? There are many reasons, notably technology, loyalty and discounters.
Constantly advancing technology has led to food production becoming more efficient with the mechanisation of farming and speeding up of production. Transportation, storage and distribution have also improved considerably. UK trade between other countries also plays a major role. The UK currently imports about half of all its food simply because it works out cheaper to do it that way.
Nowadays, people shop around. There is very little loyalty to brands or stores and large weekly shops have given way to more frequent shopping. Discounters such as Aldi and Lidl and Jack’s are also key to the shopping routine. The former two stores have 13% of the UK’s grocery market.
Are there any threats to this state of affairs? Of course there are. The weather is a variable as always. Take 2018 as a classic example. Huge storms (remember the Beast from the East?) followed by a summer of scorching heat have wreaked havoc on crops with increased prices in supermarkets. For example, between March and July the wholesale cost of carrots rose by 80% and wheat by 20%.
Then there is the reliance on imported food. Here we must mention Brexit which has already caused the fall of the pound against the euro and the dollar, and trade disputes. Marmitegate led to Tesco temporarily dropping Unilever products when the manufacturer increased its prices. An update on the sales of Vegemite over this period is currently not available.
According to Lord Price, Conservative trade minister, a no-deal Brexit will lead to “a pretty significant increase in the cost of fruit and veg, the cost of meat and the cost of dairy products“. We will see.
Finally, our global tastes and habits are changing. There is much more demand for fresh produce rather than processed food. The vegetarian/vegan movement is extremely popular and there are more calls for organic food. Countries like China (a massive population) are becoming more affluent and making different choices when it comes to food.
It seems that the low cost of food in the UK may not be long lasting. Manufacturers and food producers will have to keep their eyes and ears open. They will need to be amenable to diversification and innovation to keep prices as low as possible through the coming uncertainty of variables such as Brexit and the weather.
It barely seems any time at all since the last Restaurant Show but apparently, it has been a whole year. And last week, it returned to Olympia in London. The Restaurant Show 2018 incorporated The Bar and Pub Show and the Catering Equipment Expo.
These three brought the hospitality industry together. Catering for those owning, operating and working in restaurants, hotels, pub, bars and hospitality establishments across the UK.
As always, the event attracted hordes of visitors for companies showcasing their products. Seminar subjects were wide ranging. From digital storytelling: the secret ingredient for social media success to what’s next for casual dining and some strong advice on creating the ultimate cheeseboard!
Other topics included combining the art of hospitality with smarter technology and the influence of the fast-moving world of coffee as well as the importance of the correct background music to create exactly the right ambience.
National Chef of the Year
One of the highlights of the three-day event was the National Chef of the Year competition. This has been running since 1972 and has become one of the UK’s most respected and sought-after culinary titles.
The ceremony saw Kuba Winkowski, head chef from The Feathered Nest Inn crowned as the new National Chef of the Year. His menu included native lobster, oyster emulsion, Yorkshire grouse, quince, and sticky toffee dessert. The runner-up spot went to George Blogg, head chef at Gravetye Manor. With Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle taking third place in the dramatic cook-off.
The Catering Equipment Expo proved to be the place to get a great deal on the latest products. A range of catering equipment was on display, from cookers to fridges and those strange-looking but essential items that only a cook can recognise. Among the exhibitors was Rational displaying its SelfCooking Center and VarioCooking Centers.
Food Glorious Food
Food and drink, obviously were plentiful with over 400 suppliers exhibiting at this year’s event. New products included Drunken Dairy Ltd’s selection of booze-infused dairy and free-from ice creams and vegan sorbets. The Handmade Cake Company launched its Vegan Belgian Chocolate Cake, specially designed to be 100% vegan.
The Restaurant Show 2018 celebrated its 30th birthday with an abundance of products, seminars and events aimed at anyone involved in the catering industry. Visitors were delighted with the range of advice and new initiatives aimed at maintaining the restaurant industry’s standards in the modern world, with everything needed to sustain a successful business under one roof at Olympia.
Innovation has always been the catchword for this Show. Exhibitors, seminars, live demos and new features all showcase the latest in the food industry. Billed as the number one event for business growth and expansion in the food profession, the Show was well attended by a range of food and drink entrepreneurs striving for success.
The Show ranges from the food demo arena to the franchise area, where there were businesses opportunities for sale aplenty. From sustainability through to plant-based sustenance to plastic straws, it seemed there was no subject matter left unturned.
The Delivery Zone focused on the increasing demand for delivery with more restaurants providing this option to their customers. The zone highlighted the many suppliers of the transport to get food to the customer. It also included new packaging methods to keep the food safe along the way.
The Show had discussions touching on a variety of contemporary issues. Many of these featured advances in technology as a baseline. For instance, the discussion on how to leave better feedback at a restaurant brought up digital comment boxes, such as Blurtbox. This is an intuitive app that allows guests to log in and leave private, anonymous feedback. The restaurant can then respond to these in real time. The app is centred upon the massive impact of smartphone usage, which is perfect for the modern consumer.
One of the most interesting and modern issues featured street food. A street food trader was frustrated with the outdated process of finding a pitch so he founded StreetDots. This has resulted in a network of premium trading pitches or ‘dots’ to be booked via an app. The technology gives traders the freedom to trade with no long-term commitment.
Another seminar covered the way technology helps retain staff and customers, as what happens at the table is key to their satisfaction. Customers want their order to be taken quickly and accurately. Staff want to be equipped with technology that works quickly and efficiently making their jobs easier. The forum suggested many ways to improve the service, for example by centralising customer information, analytics and marketing database in one system. Or investing in intuitive touchscreen interfaces, making them easier for staff to use and which are less likely to cause problems for customers.
Technology and innovation were at the forefront of the Food Entrepreneur Show 2018, with ideas and advice on how to ensure that the catering industry is up to date with new ideas and techniques to keep up with modern demands from discerning customers.