Tag Archives: mass catering
There is really only one subject dominating the news at the moment and that is the issue of free school meals. School lunches have been offered for decades. Those in primary education in the 1960s and 1970s will probably still recall the trays of overboiled cabbage and swede, and solid pastry mince beef pies.
The great British school lunch menu has come a long way since then, with a choice of much healthier and more nutritious meals. The last week or so however, has seen a storm brewing over the axing of free school lunches due to Government budget pressures.
The Education Department has revealed that it does not think that “a free school lunch for every child in the first three years of primary school… is a sensible use of public money”.
Free school lunches came into effect in September 2014 and at the time, the introduction caused a great deal of consternation within schools as 2,700 primary schools had to install new catering facilities before they could even think about offering free meals.
However, the majority rose to the challenge and adapted their kitchens for the provision required. And the policy has shown results, with many schools reporting an increase in the uptake of cooked school lunches, not only by those entitled to free lunches.
Entitlement to Free Meals
With the old scheme, all children in reception, Years 1 and 2 automatically qualified for free school meals in England and Scotland. In Year 3, free meal eligibility is linked to benefits.
Now, parents earning up to £7,400 a year are entitled to a free school meal. The average cost of a lunch is £2.30, which equals £46 per month per child. Multiply that by two or three or four children at school and the cost rises to £92, £138 and £184 per month respectively.
Perhaps it is understandable why the National Union of Teachers general secretary Kevin Courtney said cancelling the universal offer of a hot meal in the day “mean-spirited and wrong-headed”.
Valentine Mulholland, head of policy at the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “after the nightmare of bringing this policy in at breakneck speed and all the capital funding spent to upgrade kitchens and dining facilities, it’s pretty sad to see this U-turn.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “we continue to support the country’s most disadvantaged children through free school meals, the £2.5bn funding given to schools through the Pupil Premium to support their education and the recently announced £26m investment to kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in at least 1,700 schools.”
Best Meal of the Day
The only alternative on the table so far is free breakfasts, which are vastly cheaper at a 10th of the price, and if this is the case, then the catering staff may have to change the menus so that children get maximum nutritional value from the first meal of the day.
A sugar tax on fizzy drinks has just been announced and it is believed that the revenue from that (expected to be £200m+) could be reinvested in breakfasts. The days of the full English breakfast may be returning, with the most nutritional meals being served up to provide energy for the rest of the day.
BREAKING NEWS! Mary Berry has been spotted chatting with Marcus Bean, Nadiya Hussain and a whole host of other top chefs. But rumours of a rival show to the Great British Bake Off have, were quashed as the chefs were united at the annual Good Food Show Birmingham NEC from 30 November – 3 December 2017.
With four days of live entertainment, shopping, innovative products and cooking demonstrations galore, over 450 exhibitors took part. They were joined by an exciting menu of top chefs and cookery experts. Mary Berry, Tom Kerridge, Michel Roux Jr, James Martin, The Hairy Bikers, Raymond Blanc, Anjula Devi and Nadiya Hussain were in attendance bringing demonstrations and advice to the masses who came through the halls.
The Big Kitchen super-theatre was the highlight of the Good Food Show Birmingham. Here the celebrity chefs cooked festive recipes and warming winter foods. This year brought a new element to the first day. Visitors who had booked the session, were able to enjoy a free Eat Like a Local session.
New for this year was the Friends and Family Festive Kitchen, hosted by Chris Bavin. Live cookery demonstrations and inspired recipe ideas gave plenty of thought for the Christmas period. These included ideas for a Caribbean Christmas and the perfect Christmas dessert.
There were plenty of other opportunities for the public to hone their cookery skills in the Skills School. On offer were masterclasses in Naked Cake Decorating with Sophie Godwin and a Sourdough Workshop with the BBC Good Food cookery team.
There was also the chance to learn a range of knife skills from the Zwilling professionals. This included different sharpening techniques, which type of knife should be used, how to use a knife for specific techniques and how to master the pinch grip.
Finally in the Skill School was the Sipsmith Gin Tasting. Historically, alcoholic tipples were almost exclusively served warm as a cosy way to get through the long, cold nights. The Sipsmith masterclasses offered tips on serving the ideal hot G&T.
Whisky and Northern Ireland Highlights
There was special interest in The Whisky Blending Lab from The Whisky Lounge. Blended whisky has apparently been ignored for far too long. So the idea was for visitors to construct their very own blended whisky. Those who took part not only blended the whisky but named it and walked away with a labelled bottled miniature!
Our final highlight was the Taste the Greatness of Northern Ireland Sampling Theatre and Pavilion. This was hosted by chef, Paula McIntyre, alongside a selection of producers. According to the showguide “Northern Ireland is a place of greatness because of a deep down determination to make the best of everything they’ve got. That same determination has taken hold of producers, processors and restaurateurs alike and is winning awards and international acclaim by producing world class ingredients and causing an explosion of authentic producers.”
Perfect for getting us in the mood for Christmas, the Good Food Show Birmingham returns to the NEC at the same time next year.
Fast food and mass catering may appear to be the invention of the 20th century but catering for the masses transcends millennia. Evidence has been excavated at the site of the Pyramids. This revealed a mess hall for the workers, long benches and tables and fish and meat bones. Armies throughout history were fed en masse (possibly not with the healthiest food but fed nonetheless) so catering as a trade has a long heritage.
The modern idea of fast food evolved with the inception of the motor industry where it became easier for people to pop into a store to buy a burger. By the 1950s in the USA, fast food was in full swing. It wasn’t long before heavy advertising and the introduction of children’s meals made it a firm favourite. Today, the global contribution of fast food outlet revenue is in the region of £500 billion.
Fast Food Growing
According to a recent report in the Guardian, the total number of takeaway food shops in England has risen by 4,000 in the past three years. This is an increase of 8%. There are currently 56,638 takeaways in England. They comprises more than 25% of all the country’s food outlets.
Many of the 326 local authorities in the UK have seen significant increases in the number of fast food outlets. Between 2014 and 2017, 20 record rises of more than 20%. Only 40 councils (12%) have seen the number of fast food outlets fall or stay the same.
Since 2012, the fast food and mass catering industry has performed relatively well. Takeaway operators have responded to higher levels of consumer expenditure by introducing higher quality food, often using organic produce and ensuring low-fat, low-sugar and low-salt meal options.
Despite the constant criticism of unhealthy and high calorific food content, fast food is still very popular . Reasons include affordable prices, busy lifestyles and increasing on-the-go consumption. There is also a much wider variety of products available to accommodate different dietary requirements.
With any mass catering, the emphasis is on efficiency and hygiene. This is true whether it is for a fast food chain or a mess hall, hotel, hospital, airline or school. Too many instances of bad practice resulting in food poisoning or infection have been traced to bad habits in the kitchen or inadequate cooking facilities.
An oven, such as the Rational units, must not only cook the food but also synchronise the cooking of each individual element. It should also be fast and reliable in performance. In addition, the oven must be regularly serviced and checked. This is best as part of an ongoing maintenance regime to ensure top performance.
Contact AC Services on 01454 322222 if you are a fast food and mass catering organisation for appliance best practice .
It’s a veritable smorgasbord this week with events related to the food industry. lunch! 17 opened at ExCeL London for two days, welcoming visitors in their thousands. For those who missed the show, worry not, there’s another one, the Food Entrepreneur Show opening this Wednesday. And 5 other shows at Excel.
lunch! 17 offered up its biggest and best show yet, with a new venue, over 330 exhibitors, two education theatres, thousands of products and tons of tasty treats. Dedicated to the food-to-go sector, the show celebrated its 10th anniversary with a packed itinerary. This included a number of influential keynote speakers.
lunch! 2017 saw the return of the Innovation Challenge Awards, showcasing the most innovative products in the food-to-go sector. This year, there were 70 new products presented to the public.
In addition, the Start Up Zone presented a plethora of start-up companies from across the food-to-go sector. 24 companies not normally found at trade shows displayed giving visitors the opportunity to see, taste and source innovative products. New companies included 4SOME Health, C’go Drinks, Doughlicious Ltd, Iraw Healthy Habits and The Hangry Food Company Ltd.
The Café Life Awards 2017 organised by the Café Society took place at the end of the first day of lunch! This was acclaimed as celebrating the leading operators in the café industry, hosted by celebrity chef Theo Randall. The awards “highlighted those involved in the sector who are pioneering and leading the market, whether in the development of new products or the creation of excellence in the high street.”
The Live Challenges this year included the Da Vinci Gourmet Speciality Drink Challenge, the Norseland Toasted Cheese Sandwich Challenge, the Florette Food to Go Challenge, New York Bakery Croll Challenge and the judging of the Café New Drink Innovation Award.
Food Entrepreneur Show and Five Others
Following lunch! 17 at ExCeL is the Food Entrepreneur Show 2017 on 26 and 27 September 2017. Exhibitors, suppliers, feature zones, live demos and talk shows are all on the menu. The show is the best opportunity for any entrepreneur striving for success in the food and drink industry.
The show runs alongside the Takeaway & Restaurant Innovation Expo, Restaurant Technology Live, Bar Technology Live, Hotel Technology Live, Restaurant Design Show and Street Food Live. So something for everybody!
The seminars and talks promise to be entertaining and informative, with subjects such as Marketing in 2017, Bear Traps, The Recipe For Future Takeaway Success, How Sustainable is Your Restaurant? And my particular favourite, Busy Fools, Honey Pots & Burgers.
Food & Drink Innovation Awards
The Food & Drink Innovation Awards at the Food Entrepreneur Show recognise the pioneers that have made an outstanding impact on the food industry in the last year. Four awards are up for grabs to those who have a product or service that is breaking boundaries in the food sector.
In addition, throughout both days of the show, the FoodTalk Radio Show will be interviewing new exhibitors, gaining insights into the concepts behind their products, services, and business. The event is completely free to attend and all of the seminars and features are free too.
As the gateway to South West England, the region has much to offer in terms of fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish.
Powells of Olveston is located in South Gloucestershire and is passionate about the produce it sells, and with good reason.
Powells sources all of its produce locally and ethically, working closely with local farmers and fishermen. This enables it to guarantee traceability on all meat and fish and ensure it is of the highest quality. The company offers lamb, pork (including sausages), chicken, duck, beef and line caught and dayboat caught fish.
It is the fish for which Powells is renowned. It’s wet fish includes cod, bass, dover and lemon sole, pollack, halibut and haddock. While the oily fish includes mackerel, salmon, trout, sardines, herrings and whitebait.
Another company that is making its mark in Bristol is Plough to Plate. Launched in 2003 Plough to Plate has built a superb reputation. So it is known for “sourcing the finest hand crafted and artisan products and supplying them to discerning chefs and specialist retailers throughout the region”.
Plough to Plate offers everything from micro-brewery beers, award-winning cheeses, hand raised pork pies, authentic charcuterie, slow risen breads and artisan chocolates. Billed as “an encyclopedia of regional fine food”, the company also sources unusual or exotic items. These include fresh truffles or a 25-year old DOCG balsamic vinegar.
Arthur David promises food with service! Founded in 1962, the company now grows its own produce, often supplying products unavailable at market. Fruit is succulent, such as red skinned Victoria plums as well as Muscat grapes, Discovery apples, English Somerset cobnuts. While vegetables available include baby leeks, baby carrots, baby turnips and all the coloured baby beets. More unusual vegetables include new season coloured carrots in purple, white and yellow, along with a range of purple and orange cauliflowers.
Another of the farm producers is Frocester Fayre Farm Shop. It has an abundance of meat, from Welsh Black and Aberdeen Angus cattle reared at Church Farm. All cattle are fed on a diet of grass, silage and barley, all grown on the farm. 150 hens and 20 ducks supply the shop and kitchen with eggs.
The owners butcher and sell all the meat in the shop. With the pork and lamb left to hang for a week, whilst the beef is hung for a minimum of three weeks. From this meat come delicious sausages, burgers, meat products and delicious faggots, all made in the farm shop’s kitchen.
Frocester aims to “use as many local ingredients as we can keeping ‘food miles’ and our ‘carbon footprint’ to a minimum. We are a genuine family business and our aim is to give all our customers excellent quality food at affordable prices”.
Finally, Jekka’s Herb Farm farm boasts the largest collection of culinary herbs in the UK. Jekka’s Herbetum was created in the grounds of the farm in 2013. It is a gastronomic delight for anyone interested in good food containing over 300 culinary herbs carefully planted in raised beds.
Recent research has suggested that the sector’s workforce could begin to drop by 2021. Given that the industry employs almost 10% of the entire UK workforce and since the economic crisis has grown its contribution to the economy faster than any other sector, it is a valid concern.
Currently, hospitality is the sixth largest contributor to export earnings and fourth largest employer, accounting for 4.49 million people or 10% of the workforce and over 180,000 businesses.
EU Workers and a Booming Market
The sector’s economic contribution could now decrease due to cost pressures from wages and business rates together with the labour squeeze. Figures show that around 65,000 hospitality staff come from EU workers. If this workforce is unavailable then labour productivity will cease to improve and will remain at 2016 levels. The report suggests a “1% fall in the number of people directly employed in the sector compared to 2016 to 3.17m, with the economic contribution the sector makes also starting to fall from its current level of £73bn.”
It’s not all bad news: the hotel industry has been booming . London is predicted to be at 80% occupancy by the end of the year, with average room prices reaching £142 and 8,000 new rooms in the pipeline. ‘Staycationers’ are being credited with a rise in regional travel, with more domestic visitors travelling around the UK.
To fill the potential labour force gap, plans are already in place. According to Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, “over 700,000 Europeans work in hospitality and tourism and although we are determined to rely less on EU service workers over the coming years it will take time. The industry would need to recruit an additional 65,000 UK workers each year in addition to the ongoing recruitment of 200,000 workers to replace churn and to power growth.”
Filling the Void
The BHA is calling for a detailed study by the Migration Advisory Committee on behalf of the government on the number of visas. This should cover “all strategically important sectors including hospitality and tourism, the fourth largest industry in the UK. Britain needs services workers as well as scientists and engineers.”
However, the Office for National Statistics reported an increase of 13.6% since last year in the number of 16-24 year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET). This, according to the BHA is a labour force! And it’s not the only sector of society that has potential. “[Our] strategy focuses on three main sections of the populations – the unemployed, returners to the labour market such as older people, and the next generation. So far our industry has delivered 67,000 apprenticeships, work experiences, and career opportunities through the BHA’s Big Hospitality Conversation for Britain’s young people,” continues Ufi Ibrahim.
The hotel and hospitality industry offers a massive opportunity for those who are unemployed, looking to enter the workplace or who want a career change, from front of house to backroom staff to kitchen operatives. Calls for government to enhance and promote those opportunities are welcomed by all to ensure we have the hospitality staff we need.
During the summer season, we cannot rely on the weather to be clement enough for us to spend a day at the beach so for many, the welcome attraction of a theme park or other local venues is quite literally, a port in a storm.
Amusement parks are popular destinations throughout the world generating billions in revenue for the relevant countries and operators. The largest and most profitable is beyond doubt the Walt Disney Company with more than 16 billion U.S. dollars in revenue from its parks followed by Universal Studios Theme Parks.
Although the UK is unable to compete on such a scale, the amusement parks that we have see significant visitors annually. Alton Towers competes with Thorpe Park and Drayton Manor Park as the leading theme park attractions in the UK. In 2016, the most visited free attraction was, for the ninth consecutive year, The British Museum with nearly 6.5 million visitors. This was closely followed by the National Gallery which had more than 6.2 million visitors and the Tower of London topped the list of paid-for attractions with 2.7 million visitors.
Going to the Zoo
Interestingly, Chester Zoo experienced its highest ever ranking, in second place, with nearly 1.9 million visitors and this seems to be a new trend, as a new survey from VisitEngland shows that gardens and zoos saw the most significant growth in visitors to attractions last year. The survey collected information from over 1,500 English attractions, and reported that stately houses and castles saw an increase of 7% in visitor numbers, and country parks a 4% increase. Gardens and zoos showed a growth of 8%.
According to VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe, “there are so many outstanding attractions offering year-round experiences throughout the country and it’s great to see Brits enjoyed 2016’s ‘Year of the English Garden’. Attractions are a much loved and valuable part of the tourism landscape, adding colour and variety to the visitor experience and encouraging people to get out and explore, driving the value of tourism across the regions.”
However, if you prefer the thrills and spills of adrenaline pumping rides, then you will have to wait another five years for what is being deemed the biggest, best and most advanced theme park to hit UK shores…a theme park to rival Disneyland Paris!
London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), is behind the idea and is planning to have the resort constructed on the Swanscombe Peninsula in North Kent to be opened by 2022. The company has stated that it would create at least “five themed areas including a cartoon circus, Starfleet Command, Action Square, Port Paramount and Entertainment City”.
If the plans are approved then the theme park would not only offer more than 50 rides but it would also come with a 2,000 seat theatre putting on shows to rival the best of the West End. Rides at the park will be inspired by Paramount Films as well as the BBC and Aardman Animations.
There is no doubt that theme park attractions bring in a fortune in revenue to the UK with caterers and catering staff comprising a major part of the workforce. At AC Services (Southern), we have a vested interest in all food and drink related issues, so we welcome the possible arrival of a new theme park.
The use of apps has helped to ease the way people order food. Recent research shows that the use of restaurant apps has increased across all age categories. Now about a third of all customers use apps to order and pay for food.
The way food is delivered has also changed over the past few years, with companies such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and Hello Fresh recruiting madly in order to fulfil demand. It is now easier than ever to order food to go.
In 2016, fast food registered a current foodservice value growth of 3%. This was thanks to affordable prices, the growing popularity of food to go and the wide range of products now available to cater for different dietary requirements. Last year, McDonald’s was at the top of the fast food chain with 6% of foodservice value sales.
According to the Cardlytics Spending Index, spending in fast food, quick service restaurants leapt by 34.1% in the past year. There are a number of reasons for this rise, including the pricing war between supermarkets. Their cheaper price means we have more money to treat ourselves. Another reason is the increasing popularity of paying via contactless card.
“The average spend in QSR outlets is generally under £10,” said Smith of Cardlytics. “It is possible that people previously paid for their meals in cash, but are now using contactless, meaning the transactions are captured by our data.”
There are also more choices when it comes to fast food. This has traditionally been associated with burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and in general food that has been deemed as not nutritionally valuable.
However, fast food is getting healthier and bolder. Pret A Manger recently made permanent its 40-item Veggie Pret pop-up experiment in London, with plans for expansion. Sushi shops have become a particular favourite. Major chains have been promising to source fresher ingredients with fewer additives and free-range chicken is showing up on more menus.
The fast food industry is booming. More and more drive-thrus and pop-up restaurants are being set up and the choice is far broader than ever before. The nature of the industry means that many operators are open for longer than traditional restaurants and cafes. There is therefore more wear and tear on ovens and cookers. At AC Services (Southern), we advise fast food outlets to regularly check and service their ovens. This includes having a daily cleaning regime in order to maintain optimum performance.