Tag Archives: Pubs
Food is seasonal and spring is the time for new crops to be harvested. There is an abundance of all-year round produce which we enjoy as part of our staple diets, such as potatoes, onions, beef, bananas, chicken and cabbage.
But some food sparks great anticipation. Not least in this category is asparagus which is coming in to fruition as we speak.
Around the world, we herald the arrival of this humble vegetable with excitement and even festivals. The British Asparagus Festival, celebrates the start of the asparagus season where a fleet of vintage cars takes the crop to its final destination from the Vale of Evesham.
From Asparagus to Lamb
Asparagus is the young shoots of a cultivated lily plant. It is one of the delicacies of the vegetable world although it is notoriously labour intensive to grow. French asparagus is purple, the British and American varieties are green whereas in Spain and Holland, asparagus is white. And as far as nutrition goes, all types have high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium.
Other food coming in May includes strawberries, gooseberries, carrots and tomatoes. At their very best are spring greens, sorrel, peas, new potatoes, halibut, crab, rhubarb and of course, spring lamb. Spring lamb, also called early or summer lamb, is three to five months old.
Also keep an eye out for aubergines, the fruit that thinks it’s a vegetable and which has gained new interest with the vegan and vegetarian options now readily available. Although it is native to South-East Asia, it now grows all over the world with a huge range of varieties from the bulbous, glossy, deep purple zeppelin-shaped version to the scarcely-bigger-than-a-pea variety.
Fruit Picker Shortage?
Last summer, the great British farming community began to raise concern about fruit pickers. The majority of pickers come from abroad on a seasonal basis. In fact, according to the National Farmers Union, only 1% of the annual 60,000 seasonal farm workers are British. The industry relies on overseas labour which they worry will be deeply affected by Brexit. The vast majority come from Eastern Europe, particularly Bulgaria and Romania. With a stay of execution until Halloween, the farmers might breathe a sigh of relief for this year, but the problem still looms.
Last year, labour shortages driven by economic shifts affected strawberry crops in particular; with produce left rotting in the fields and hydroponic poly-tunnels. At the time, there was also a reported 30 to 40% shortfall in labour.
Some are campaigning for a seasonal agricultural workers scheme that could include countries outside of the EU. This would allow pickers to come and work for a defined and limited period of time as a solution. Or some maintain that the best way to avoid a crisis is to entice more Brits to work the field. The early hours, long days, physical toll and seasonality are offset by the joy of working in the open air and earning as much as you can pick.
The weather is changing and the nights are getting lighter, which can only mean one thing…summer. And with summer comes festivals, in particular food festivals, and we have gathered some of the best to consider.
Music or Not?
The Big Feastival is taking place on Alex James’ Farm in the Cotswolds from Friday 23 August to Monday 26. It will welcome some of the world’s top chefs. They will demonstrate their expertise in cooking skills live on The NEFF Big Kitchen stage. Raymond Blanc and Tom Brown are just two of the names who will headline, together with a host of music acts including the Zutons, Elbow and the Fun Lovin Criminals. Look out for the Collaboration Kitchen. Here special edition dishes will be served up with all proceeds going to Charity Partner, Action Against Hunger.
The Food Rocks festival will take place on 7-8 September 2019 in Lyme Regis. This presents some of the best food, producers and suppliers that Dorset and the South West has to offer. The festival brings together top chefs, exhibitors, locals. The main stage will showcase a diverse mix of interactive cookery demonstrations, talks and tastings across the weekend. Highlights include the Glenarm Estate beef supper club and the crab and mackerel supper club
Venue-based Food Festivals
Smoked & Uncut at THE PIG near Bath on 15 June features a line-up of handpicked classic and contemporary artists, including Imelda May and the Kaiser Chiefs, home-made festi-food, local ales and cocktails. Family style feasts will feature heavily with the focus on alfresco dining under canvas. While Mark’s ‘Ruby Murray House’ which will be dishing up indulgent home-style Indian curry.
24 and 25 August sees The River Cottage Festival taking place at River Cottage HQ, Axminster with food, music, talks, master-classes and a host of children’s activities. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free food will be available and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall himself will be in attendance.
Coming Together Locally in May
Moving across the border, the Caernarfon Food Festival is on May 11 2019. It promises to be “perfect for foodies to explore the food and drink producers from the local area.” The event will feature market stalls of food and drink, live cooking demonstrations and freshly cooked street food, celebrating local food and drink produce. There will also be live music from local bands, artists and choirs.
Also in May (18-19) is the Spring Tide Food Festival on Hive Beach near Bridport. This is a food festival jam-packed full of activities and things to eat and drink. The aim of the festival is to combine the network of artisan food and drink producers from Somerset, East Devon and Dorset to “welcome in the new season of food and ingredients in style, to celebrate the pleasure that can be had in the growing and cultivation, the production and cooking and consumption of tasty food and drink.”
Any Reason to Hold a Festival?
Finally, there must be a mention of the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling on May 27, 2019 when a 4kg cheese is thrown off a terrifyingly steep hill chased by people in Brockworth, Gloucester. In theory, the aim of cheese-rolling is to be the first person to catch the wheel of cheese; but nowadays, the majority of people participate in the event to raise money for local charities and other good causes.
Lots of food festivals this summer in the South West of England and South Wales. So if you’re a catering business, think what food festival could you hold this summer to boost trade? Or where you might go as a mobile caterer?
Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about the Great British pub industry. Not only are there 49,500 pubs in the UK but beer and pubs contribute £22bn to the UK’s GDP. They generate £13bn in tax revenue with the sector supporting around 900,000 jobs. At any given time, 0.7% of the world is drunk which makes 50 million people drunk right now!
Last week, Olympia played host to PUB19, the only dedicated show for the UK pub industry. With 200 exhibitors and a host of seminars, PUB19 offered an important opportunity to keep up-to-date with the latest trends, share ideas, network and gain inspiration. First launched in 2015 to celebrate the UK pub industry’s innovations, products, trends, services and people; PUB brings together key trade associations, decision makers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, pub owners and pub companies.
Pub19 Talks and Workshops
This year was a huge success, with great attention paid to the talks and workshops. These ranged from improving the pub experience, using social media and offering the latest in pub food trends. One talk that proved popular was entitled Profit is in the Kitchen held in the PUB Trends Bar, in partnership with Fever-Tree. It focused on making sure the kitchen is as profitable and efficient as possible to make food enticing, appetising and current.
Another insightful talk came from Tim Martin, veteran pub landlord and founder and chairman of Britain’s largest pub chain, J D Wetherspoon. Growth in the Face of Adversity shared his views on the recipe for success, deserting social media and the impact of Brexit. With uncertainty ahead, he motioned the changes that must be met whatever the outcome of the move.
The Taste Table was particularly popular. Tastings emerged as the most popular consumer experience for pub-goers according to the 2019 PUB Trends Survey. The hands-on sessions were aimed at those looking for advice, training and inspiration around great food and drink.
The sessions were targeted at keeping visitors up-to-date with the latest trends. They included tastings of alcohol free spirits, or distilled botanicals. This is one of the fastest growing segment of the entire drinks industry; with the value of alcohol free spirits sold in the UK growing from £17.5 million to £25.9 million in the year to June 2018. However, there was probably more attendance at the gin tasting event!
More Useful Facts
To end, here are a few more facts to digest: around 13 million tourists visit pubs every year. 82% of the beer sold in the UK is made in the UK. 20 million pints of beer are enjoyed every day brewed from the 1113 breweries operating in Britain. And my particular favourite: there is a cloud of alcohol in outer space which is enough to make four trillion-trillion drinks. Let it rain.
PUB20 is already in place for next February. So be sure you book the days to visit or exhibit well in advance.
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”.
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.
So far this year we have been spoiled rotten. Not only have we had the best run of good weather since 1976 but the World Cup has boosted the country like never before…well, not since 1990. Images of English football fans enjoying themselves have been flashed around the world.
There is no doubt that had we won the World Cup, the economy would have benefited exponentially. In the short term it has provided a major boost for pubs and clubs as people gathered to watch the games. These are the sort of in-country tourists that are often forgotten.
And don’t forget Mr Trump’s ‘I’ll Fix Brexit Singlehandedly’ tour. His controversial presence in the UK has sent pictures around the world, with people from all nations curious to see how he was received. The myriad snaps of him in Marine One on his way to iconic locations such as Blenheim Palace, Chequers, Windsor Castle and the inside of the Sun newspaper offices put the UK at the forefront of the world’s media.
2018 Inbound Tourism Forecast
The VisitBritain forecast for 2018 is for 41.7 million visits, an increase of 4.4% on 2017 which saw record highs with overseas visitors reaching 40.3 million. £26.9 billion in visitor spending is forecast, an increase of 6.8% on 2017.
Brexit looms with uncertainty as always and the ongoing value of the pound is a key variable. In financial terms, the pound remains much lower than its pre-referendum level and is forecast to continue to be weak throughout the medium term, indicating that Britain will remain a good value-for-money destination.
A spokesman from GlobalData commented: “The pound’s Brexit drop has rendered business and leisure trips to the UK more affordable, luring a growing number of European travellers.”
The UK economy has been boosted also by the emergence of countries such as Russia and Brazil from recession. China, India and much of South East Asia are continuing to grow at a rapid pace and residents of these countries are making plans to visit Britain.
Regional Success and the Future
Figures show 2017 was a record year for tourists in the South West, with South Devon particularly bolstered by a rise in tourism numbers. Some of the towns that attracted the most attention were Teignmouth, Dawlish, Salcombe and Exmouth, with 75% of visits to the website in 2017 from new visitors.
Bristol is hoping that its new museum, Being Brunel will attract more visitors. And the amazing weather has led to more and more people heading for the South West beaches.
With all indications that tourism will remain constantly buoyant over the next five years, it is an ideal opportunity for the food industry to capitalise on the current food diversity trends. Street food, pop-up restaurants and alternative food venues can help to create a Britain that can be lauded for its food as well as its locations. Catering should remain confident in its future investments to profit from tourists from home and abroad.
According to the BBC’s Good Food guide, there are new restaurant food trends that diners are enjoying in 2018.
The keywords are health, the environment and the community which have translated into exciting new trends in food and drink.
One of the most innovative is gut-friendly foods, which comprise probiotics like kimchi, kefir and miso and prebiotics such as onions, garlic and other alliums. It’s all about plant-based diets and root-to-stem eating.
Diets are focused on produce rather than meat with people shifting away from highly processed foods towards whole foods. In addition, there are now a reported 550,000 vegans in the UK, up 360% over the past 10 years. This means that tastes are shifting and restaurant food is having to become more adventurous and creative to accommodate this new demographic.
The faux meat industry is booming as more chefs embrace ingredients such as chickpeas, falafel, tempeh and tofu, and food technicians globally are working hard to develop a range of faux meat products.
In America, there’s a company that not only produces a totally plant-based burger but there’s a secret, not-on-the-market-yet added ingredient called heme which gives the faux meat a blood-like appearance for those who (used to) like their meat rare.
The Arrival of Hemp
Hemp is the new superfood. It is a highly nutritious source of “quality plant-based protein” according to Paul Benhaim, the CEO of Elixinol Global, which makes hemp product.
Hemp is an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Perhaps the easiest way to consumer hemp is via the seeds which a number of restaurants are now using as a garnish. Despite coming from the same plant species as cannabis, the tetrahydrocannabinol (the hallucinogenic component in cannabis) level in hemp is minimal.
Increasingly, restaurants are using all parts of a food to minimise waste. This root-to-stem eating is a fantastic foodie trend requires diners to eat the whole fruit or vegetable.
For example, don’t throw broccoli stems away. Simply slice them into little discs and roast them as an alternative to croutons. In the same way, pickles can be made out of watermelon rind and crunchy garnishes made from baked potato peelings.
I Can’t Believe …
Keep an eye out for the new craft cultured butter. Butter Culture has produced a new batch of churned cultured butter. This uses local Jersey cow milk produced from English bred Jersey dairy cows, a healthy bacteria culture and a dash of naturally mineral rich Himalayan pink rock salt. It is a traditional Scandinavian recipe. The lactose eat the sugars and carbohydrates in the cream and produce specific lactic acids. These are incredibly rich in butter flavours.
Also note that the unicorn trend so popular at the beginning of the year is out and purple is in. Apparently, instagram is responsible in part for this trend…purple food is incredibly photogenic.
Finally, drinks. 2018 is seeing the return of historic small beers with low ABV, mead, port and vermouth appearing on cocktail bar menus. This reaffirms the idea that alcohol should be for enjoyment, rather than just the obvious side effects. Confirming once again the key restaurant food trends are health combined with flavour.
It’s getting close to one of the biggest summer events of the year. Now people are deciding where they are going to be. In the pub? With friends? A street party? Yes, it’s the annual FA Cup Final on May 19. And apparently there’s the little matter of a Royal Wedding in London on the same day!
Hot on the heels of the birth of Prince Louis, the Royals will yet again be forced into the spotlight. Every aspect of the bride will be scrutinised from dress, shoes, hair and makeup to bridesmaids and family members. In parallel with the infamous Edward VIII, the global scrutiny will yet again be on an American divorcee’s influence on the Royal family. It will be a day to remember.
Festivals and Events
The wedding heralds the arrival of the summer entertainment season, with festivals and events happening all around the South West and Wales. There’s plenty to choose from.
If you are looking for something a bit different, try the Pop-up Pandas art installation at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park with over 100 painted pandas to discover. Each panda is hand-painted. Themes range from different artistic styles and elements of Chinese culture to English seasonal events and clothing traditions. The exhibition opens on 5 May.
How about celebrating Somerset Day? Held on May 11th, it honours King Alfred the Great’s routing of the Vikings from his Somerset stronghold in May 878? The day is actually more like a week. So there is plenty to do, from the Cheese and Cider Night at Wincanton Racecourse to the Great Somerset Tea Party.
The Foodies Festival, the UK’s biggest food festival returns to Durdham Downs, Bristol from May 11-13, featuring Great British Bake Off winners baking live in The Cake & Desserts Theatre and top local chefs cooking their signature recipes in the Stoves Chefs Theatre. There are workshops galore including Prosecco and parmesan tasting, beer and chocolate tasting. As well as talks on the power of plant-based proteins and Kombucha.
Since being founded in 2004 as part of the Cowbridge Charter Trust’s 750-year celebrations, Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival has grown from a one-day event to a whole weekend of foodie family fun. Now it has over 100 food and drink exhibitors, food demonstrations, musical entertainment. All spread around the town of Cowbridge.
If you are looking for somewhere later in the summer, make your way to Wales for the Big Cheese 27 to 29 July. Set in one of Europe’s largest castles, Caerphilly hosts an extravaganza of street entertainers, living history encampments, music, dance, traditional funfair, folk dancing, falconry, fire eating, minstrels, and troubadours. Attracting over 80,000 people annually, the Big Cheese weekend is a free event.
So what do all these summer events have in common (apart from the wedding!)? Each took a local interest, turned it into a reason to celebrate and then into an annual event. Often it’s a group of businesses coming together for mutual benefit.
Yes summer events might be hassle to organise. But much like Christmas they provide valuable revenue and profit for the catering trade.
Producers across the country are embracing local and organic ingredients and eco-friendly manufacturing methods, and Gloucestershire food producers are no different. Snuggled in the heart of England, Gloucestershire boasts a food heritage that goes back centuries.
Simon Weaver’s Cotswold Organic Dairy produces some amazingly creamy and award-winning cheeses. The company farms organically in the Cotswolds at Kirkham Farm where Fresian cows feed on organically grown grass. The milk travels a mere five metres to the creamery every morning where expert cheesemakers turn it into a delicious range of artisan products.
Choose from Organic Cotswold Brie, Blue-Veined Brie or Herb Brie. Importantly, the farm encourages and promotes wildlife with no artificial fertilisers or chemicals used to grow crops, and the creamery itself is powered using renewable energy sources.
Jess’s Ladies produces milk, cream and yoghurt and is run by the Vaughan family who milk 80 cows on a farm. The cows (the Ladies) produce un-homogenised, pasteurised milk on site. This is taken straight to local shelves to ensure the best possible flavour. Each lady is known by name and milked personally. As the milk is not homogenised, the milk retains its natural composition. The most recent addition to the menu is luxurious natural yoghurt, made by hand.
The Cotswold Farmer has been part of the local food community since the 1970s, priding itself on environmental responsibility. The company has sustained a well-deserved reputation for its sausages, using a mixture of ingredients and recipes. Toulouse Style pork sausages, Italian Style, Spicy Spanish Style, Cotswold Herb Garden Style are all on the menu. Their ingredients include red wine, garlic, toasted fennel seeds and traditional Italian and Spanish herbs and spices.
Also on offer are Cotswold Gluten Free pork sausages and as alternatives to pork, venison sausages and St Georges beef sausages. The pigs are bred and reared on the family farm in the North Cotswolds.
Acres of Orchards
Another of Gloucestershire food producers is Day’s Cottage. It has over 20 acres of orchards to help the company produce award-winning apple juice for more than 20 years. Pure apple juice, cider and perry are all manufactured using traditional methods and apples from traditional, mature orchards in Gloucestershire.
No additives or preservatives are used in manufacture. The juice of over 1kg of fresh fruit fills each 75cl bottle. The orchards are all free from sprays, chemicals or artificial fertilisers. The ciders and perry are fermented and matured in oak barrels. Only old varieties are used, such as Morgan Sweet and Foxwhelp apples and Brown Bess and Blakeney Red pears.
Ethical Addictions based in Kingsholm, Gloucester, is a small family company that sources high quality coffee buying direct from the growers. The coffee comes from villages in Brazil and Tanzania. Products include the Grizzly Bear Ethical Coffee Blend and shade grown coffee.
Finally if you’re after raw coconut oil why not try out Bula Batiki which works with Fijian islanders directly to ensure their communities benefit.
Proving once again that there are some unusual as well as mainstream food producers in the counties served by AC Services (Southern).
What happens to a Rational oven when you leave it outside over Christmas? Simple, AC Services comes along, picks it up and repairs it! That is what happened to Nick Beardsley, joint owner of the Cotswold Food Club. Nick runs the Old Fleece, the Old Lodge, Fostons Ash and the Britannia, all pubs located around the Cotswold area.
Due to a major power surge just before Christmas, the main motherboard on the SCC WE 101 electric Rational oven at the Old Fleece was damaged and the chefs were unable to use the appliance.
Being a critical piece of equipment over that period, Nick had no choice but to replace his prized oven with a temporary one which led to the Rational oven being left outside. A quick call to AC Services and the engineers turned up to assess the situation.
“We assumed that the cold and the outside environment would have damaged the oven beyond repair but as it turned out, the engineers were quite happy to take it away.
We were delighted when we were told that it could be repaired and we could have it back,” explains Nick. “It was even better news for our chef who had been moaning about the quality of the replacement being inferior to the Rational model.”
The Old Fleece
The family-run venue is located between Stroud and Nailsworth and is a 250 year-old former coaching inn. It has been run by the Beardsley family for 25 years and Nick’s son, who was actually born in the Old Fleece, has recently taken over as manager.
The pub caters for numerous events, from staff parties to corporate lunches with chef, Aurel serving up a variety of food either from a set menu or bespoke. He is particularly noted for his Sunday roasts with the pub full at the weekend with hungry customers eager to try his food.
All pubs and hotel belonging to the Cotswold Food Club are set in historic buildings offering high quality, locally sourced food and drink in a relaxed and friendly environment. The group’s own farm in Woodchester supplies a limited amount of lamb and Gloucester Old Spot pork and venison, supplemented from farms in Gloucestershire, therefore offering only traceable, free-range meat.
“We were so pleased to get our oven back in perfect working order,” concludes Nick. “However, we were more impressed with the service offered by AC Services.
Unlike our previous maintenance contractors, the company turned up with everything on the van that might be required to repair the oven and then took it away when it was clear that it needed attention.
We have an adhoc contract with the company so we just paid for a single call out and we are extremely happy with the outcome.”
If you require information about our services and maintenance packages, call AC Services (Southern) on 01454 322222.