Tag Archives: Restaurant
According to statistics from the ONS, visitor numbers to the UK are slightly down year on year by about 2%; with 2.9 million overseas visits in March 2019.
However, 2018 was a record-breaking year in terms of tourists so the figures are not in any way alarming.
Between January and March 2019, there were 7.8 million inbound visits to the UK. This is just 1% below the inbound visits in the same period in 2018. Overall, overseas visitors to the UK spent £22.7 B in the twelve months to March 2019. This is down a more worrying 8% compared to the previous twelve-month period.
In June and July, tourism gave a huge boost to the economy with the hosting of the Cricket World Cup. Hampshire County Cricket Club hosted five matches in the long-awaited tournament. This brought a total of £18.3 million to Southampton alone. While Birmingham is predicted to generate a staggering £32.1 million from the tournament.
Many of the fans have travelled from Pakistan and India to watch the cricket. The recent India versus Pakistan match witnessing a staggering 750,000 applications for the 26,000-seat stadium. The importance of sporting global events in terms of boosting the economy cannot be underestimated.
At the end of June, the government announced a deal to prepare Britain for an extra 9 million visitors per year. This is heralded as a major boost for the pub and hospitality sectors in particular. A Hospitality and Tourism Skills Board will be created to promote and market hospitality jobs as viable career options. A three-year industry led skills and recruitment campaign will also be funded.
In addition, local tourism zones will be created alongside a new business events strategy and more investment in infrastructure. The deal will also support the creation of 10,000 new apprenticeships for anyone building a career in tourism or hospitality.
Hospitality sector trade body UK Hospitality hailed it as a landmark moment as chief executive, Kate Nicholls explains. “This sector deal marks a tremendous moment for all of us in the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries. The move will be absolutely critical in changing the perception of the sector within Government and the wider public opinion, and acknowledges hospitality is key to the country’s economic growth.”
The Rise of Chinese Visitors
Finally, China’s rising wealth has resulted in a huge growth of tourism abroad, making Chinese people the world’s most abundant tourists. A new travel trends study by TripAdvisor reveals that travellers from China have shown one of the biggest increases in views of UK destinations, with an increase of 133% in Chinese travellers.
“Overall, these results are great news for the UK hospitality industry – we’re seeing real growth in interest from many countries and resoundingly good reviews from travellers,” said Fabrizio Orlando, industry relations manager, TripAdvisor.
Summer is well and truly upon us with the seasonal sporting tournaments reaching their conclusions and the temperatures finally rising. This means that eateries are eagerly anticipating a rising number of visitors; and with competition fierce, new restaurant food trends are emerging to give restaurants the edge over their competitors.
As expected, due to the barbeque season, there have been price increases in home-produced lamb, beef and poultry. France has shown unexpected interest in UK lamb and imported beef is in shorter supply. As a result, suppliers are advising alternative cuts. These not only make use of the whole animal but are representing better value.
With crab prices high, due in part to a high demand from China, native lobsters are being perceived as at an interesting alternative. Native king scallops have taken over from queen scallops, which should be avoided due to sustainability issues.
The berry season in Britain has got off to a flying start with excellent growing conditions. With the tradition of Wimbledon, strawberries have come into their own followed by raspberries, blueberries and blackberries as crops ripen. Some restaurants are using fresh berries to flavour and garnish cocktails and other fancy drinks as well as incorporating them into desserts.
As far as vegetables are concerned, Jersey Royal potatoes are extremely good quality and value this year. This is a relief after the weather adversely affected last year’s overall potato crop.
Mushrooms have, well, mushroomed in popularity with a range of varieties available across the summer. Morels, St George’s and puffballs are joined by the Scottish-grown girolle mushrooms which are due in season in August, bringing a fresh and fruity tang to dishes.
Vegan Tops All
Millennials introduced us to the term influencers and as a genre, they are responsible for a change in tastes. Compared with a year ago, customers are looking for healthier options, driven by millennials.
One restaurant chain that has seen this change is Greene King, with boss Nick Mackenzie explaining that veganism is becoming increasingly popular in his pubs. He says: “it isn’t just millennials but on a wider basis consumer trends are shifting. Most of our menus have vegan options and healthy eating is a big part of it. The trend in veganism is one that will continue.”
On the theme of veganism, a few hitherto unknown items are hitting the headlines. Watch out for aquafaba, the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas that used to go down the drain and is now whipped into an egg replacer for baked goods and sauces. Or in the chocolate mousse pictured.
Meanwhile America is going nuts over the health benefits of tea made from avocado leaves. Whether or not this will take off over here remains to be seen; but the beauty spotting potential restaurant foods trends is some never get beyond a fad.
A fun quiz to start this week triggered by the question what’s in season now. The answer is at the bottom of the page.
- Who represented Ireland more than once at the Eurovision Song Contest in the 1980s?
- What bird does anserine refer to?
- Which actor had the starring role in Walker, Texas Ranger?
- Finally, what one word links these answers? Read on for clues!
Now, what’s in season currently? It’s a good time for asparagus, basil and beetroot which are reaching their prime in terms of ripeness and taste. Carrots and courgettes are at their best over the next two months and we are beginning to see blackberries and blackcurrants ripen.
Artichokes and cherries are coming along nicely as are broad beans and broccoli, not to mention the seasonal favourites of redcurrants and raspberries.
One berry that may not be very well known is the tayberry which should be ready for picking by the end of July. Similar to the loganberry, the tayberry is a cross between a blackberry and a red raspberry.
Cone-shaped, it has a strong aromatic flavour and is named after Scotland’s Tay River. If you want to know what one tastes like, try Waterhouse Fayre who produces an amazing array of jams from hybrids such as tayberries, tummelberries and boysenberries. The berries are either grown on site or sourced from local growers in the South West.
Have you heard of samphire? There are two types of this sea vegetable – marsh and rock – but only marsh samphire is widely available. Marsh samphire has vibrant green stalks, similar to baby asparagus, with a distinctively crisp and salty taste. It can be used raw in salad, though it tends to be very salty so it is more often boiled or steamed for a few minutes.
But the good news is that it is now ready for consumption! Head over to Devon and visit Riverford if you want to buy samphire that has been grown in an organically certified Devon field that was flooded by the sea.
Finally, it’s what you’ve been waiting for: the great British marrow is almost ripe! Marrows are commonly cultivated in the British Isles but it is the marrow growing competitions that send people into a frenzy. The British record is held by a marrow that weighed 171lbs. By the way, the courgette is actually just an immature marrow. If you head to Dorset, you can find all sorts of vegetables, maybe not of record-breaking dimensions, at Wessex Plants (1988) Ltd, a family business supplying professional growers, mainly in the South West of the UK. The present range of plants includes cabbage, cauliflower, calabrese, sprouts, leeks, onions and purple sprouting broccoli amongst others.
- Johnny Logan
- Chuck Norris
What links them all? They’re all berries of course and with Wimbledon started, so has the season for strawberries and cream.
More than simply a swimming pool, the Clifton Lido in Bristol has gained a well-earned reputation for fine food. With a restaurant and a poolside bar, the former restored Victorian swimming pool has been designed for contemporary luxury.
Having first opened its doors in 1850, the swimming pool changed hands many times until its final closure in 1990. The threat of turning the building into flats was ever-present until 2006, when the Glass Boat company purchased the site. And following an extensive restoration project, the Lido opened to the public two years later. It now boasts a Grade II listing and a record as the oldest heated outdoor swimming pool in Britain.
Restaurant and Bar
The restaurant overlooks the pool on the original viewing gallery. It offers a relaxed and informal space with floor to ceiling doors sliding back to allow entry for the elements. The menus incorporate Moorish and Mediterranean cuisine, with a strong Spanish lilt, with ingredients sourced from small-scale hand-picked suppliers.
The set menu offers delicacies such as raw rhubarb, fennel, salted almond and goat’s curd salad for starters and warm North African mezze with falafel, tahini sauce and warm flat bread for mains followed by Basque-style burnt cheesecake, rhubarb and creme fraiche Pedro Ximenez and raisin ice cream for dessert.
The transformation of the venue into a chilled-out restaurant has been a resounding success, with “relaxed and unpretentious dining; where suits and robes sit cheek by jowl to enjoy great ingredients.”
According to maintenance manager, Paul Wyatt, the kitchen equipment has been instrumental in this success, with a three-year old Rational electric oven working hard in the kitchen to supply perfect cuisine to diners.
“We have an ad hoc contract with AC Services (Southern) with the oven” he explains. “It is serviced once a year but the company is always on hand should any minor problems arise.” Typically these issues comprise of general wear and tear due to the oven being constantly in use, but rarely, if ever do any big problems arise.
Paul has an affinity with Rational, as part of his job is to also look after the Bristol Glassboat restaurant.This is owned by the same company, and situated on Welshback in Bristol’s historic floating harbour. The venue has fast become an iconic eating house in Bristol, with tables that look out to the water through large, restored wooden windows, with views around the harbourside and to the city.
The restaurant opened 30 years ago, with the original boat dragged from the muddy waters of the river Severn and lovingly restored in the early 1980s. The Glassboat Brasserie menu consists of a classic French menu, carefully chosen and prepared using the best ingredients.
The food is simple in style but exquisite in taste, with a massive choice: rabbit terrine, cornichons, celeriac remoulade, provencale fish soup, aioli, rouille, crouton, fried pigs head, smoked eel and potato pancakes are just some of the delicacies on the menu.
And yet again, behind the success lies a Rational 101 SH oven, five years old and still going strong. “The big advantage of this appliance is that it is self cleaning,” continues Paul. “The chef just turns it on and it is ready for use. The reliability and performance is outstanding and plays a huge role in the continuing success and reputation of the Glassboat.”
In the past, fast food or food-to-go comprised a burger, chips, pizza, chicken or a sandwich grabbed from a supermarket. Today, the choice is immense and growing rapidly.
Food-to-go is defined as a product that is ordered, bought and collected (or delivered) over the counter usually a portable single portion, designed for out-of-home consumption and not served on a plate.
According to the HIM and MCA UK Food To Go Market Report 2019, the UK market is set to be worth £21.2bn in 2019. This is 3% up on the previous year.
Evolution of Taste
This evolution of the food-to-go requires innovation and diversity and the industry is responding fast. When searching for a snack, more than a third (34%) of consumers look for a healthy product; while almost half (49%) say they would chose a savoury snack over a sugary option (Mintel 2018).
Both food-to-go specialists and leading supermarkets have seen a strong recent focus on hot food with consumers preferring this over the traditional lunchtime sandwich and crisps. However, sandwiches still hold a massive market share. The traditional egg and cress or tuna and sweetcorn fillings are being challenged by more adventurous choices. These include chimichurri flatbread pockets, halloumi toasts and avocado with vegan dressing.
The trend for more interesting, nutritious, healthier food has been fuelled hugely by social media. In particular Instagram, which acts as a visual diet platform. Users are constantly posting images of their food. The key influencers are having a significant impact on food trends, especially among the younger generation. If it looks good in a photo, it’s good enough to eat!
It’s not just menus that are being adapted – key catering companies are changing the way that they operate too. For instance, brewery S.A. Brain & Co has invested heavily in the development of chef talent with the launch of the Skills Hub and Creative Kitchen (SHACK). This is a state-of-the-art training concept set to benefit its own kitchens and those of the wider industry.
Based in Cardiff, SHACK includes equipment trials and training on food-specific creations, menu launches and essential kitchen techniques. This 24-week programme involves category management, recipe building, market research and capacity management.
The changes can also be seen in more traditional events such as the Iftar. This is the historic breaking-the-fast meal during the month of Ramadan. According to a report in Eastern Eye, plates of curry, biriani, samosas and pakoras are giving way to lighter and healthier options. More restaurants are now catering to the trend with small plates menus for sharing.
The report says there is less of an appetite for fried and fatty foods and a shift towards grilled meats, salads and sharing desserts. This is particularly among young Muslims after 19 hours each day of going without food and drink.
Many pop-up kitchens, fast food outlets and catering vans are embracing new food-to-go trends and challenges. Food festivals are on the rise in virtually every city in the UK at some point in the year. People are more willing than ever to experiment with new tastes, from vegan to meat-free to tastes from other continents.
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?
If you venture deep into the heart of Cheltenham, you will find a hidden gem in the form of the Manor By The Lake. This exquisite Victorian mansion is located within seven acres of award-winning gardens and is a visual delight.
Picture perfect for any kind of celebration from corporate away-days to lavish weddings, the Manor By The Lake has a few tricks up its sleeve. Behind the intricately carved oak panels, ornately painted ceilings and marble fireplaces lies a pulsating and busy kitchen.
“We installed Rational ovens when the venue was converted five years ago as we had limited space. The building is also Grade II listed which brought with it restrictions on equipment usage. The ovens suited us perfectly in terms of providing an arena to produce our dishes. But once a month, Rational uses our venue as a Cook Live demo site.”
“80% of our core business is weddings, so on the days without events, we are able to accommodate the training staff and also learn more about the capabilities of the ovens ourselves,” he comments.
Because of the versatility of the Rational ovens, Norbert and his staff are able to offer total precision to guests. “Consistency is key,” continues Norbert. With upwards of 200 guests at a wedding, it is vital that all of the food choices arrive at the same time and at the correct temperature. The pre-programming function of the Rational ovens makes this possible every time.
Maintaining the Quality
The Manor retains AC Services (Southern) to monitor and maintain the equipment on a yearly contract. Sometimes, things go wrong such as a recent problem with a door. But as Norbert explains, AC Services solved the problem and a new part was ordered and delivered overnight. “Obviously things can go wrong in a busy kitchen but any problems are quickly and efficiently sorted.”
In the first year of opening, the Manor By The Lake covered 60 weddings ; last year for all events the total produced by the Rational ovens was 24,000 covers.
Norbert puts this down to the venue’s attraction as well as the ability of the kitchen to produce what the client wants. “We pride ourselves on delivering the client’s culinary requirements,” he continues. “The versatility of the Rational ovens allows us to cater for the current trends in diversity when it comes to food.”
Manor History Provides Venue
The Manor By The Lake began life as Arle Court, built between 1854-1858. In 1904 Arle Court and its contents went under the hammer in a two-day sale and was bought by a Herbert Unwin, a Yorkshire businessman. During the 1950s, Arle Court stood empty until it was purchased by Ealing Studios as headquarters and film location set.
In 2010, the Manor was put up for sale again and was purchased in 2013 by Tammy Madge and Michael Chittenden. They restored the Manor back to its former 1858 glory with enhanced facilities to create an exclusive use venue for weddings, special occasions and business functions. All of which makes it a truly picture perfect venue in which to serve high quality catering consistently.
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.
Mince pies have been spotted in the shops and some stores have already set up their Christmas stock. Light yoghurt has been removed from WeightWatchers no-sin list. The oldest cheese in the world has been found in Egypt dating back 3,200 years.
Meanwhile closer to home, it has been revealed that South West food and drink exports have reached £838m which is very good news for the region.
Unsurprisingly, seafood has been the biggest export at £176m with dairy products the second most popular at £147m. Oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, including nuts and olives, showed the largest increase of any food and drink product, up 26% to £17m. This represents an increase year on year of 8.7%.
South West Triumphs
Paul Shand, head of exports in the South West for the Department for International Trade, said: “South West food and drink producers are rapidly developing a reputation around the world for their high quality food and drink.” It goes to show that the food and drink industry is thriving and despite the uncertain economic background, people are still demanding quality food from reputable sources.
In Wales, there are also a few pats on the back with Welsh food and drink businesses triumphing in this year’s Great Taste awards, proving once again that food and drink from Wales has a deserved reputation for quality and taste. A whopping 153 products from Wales, from independent artisan producers to larger distributors, were recognised in the awards, with 110 Welsh products achieving one star, 31 getting two stars and 12 being deemed worthy of the three-stars accolade.
Described as the Oscars of the culinary world, Great Taste is organised by the Guild of Fine Food and is the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink. Among the winners were Forte’s Ice Cream’s mascarpone and caramelised fig ice cream and organic Zambian forest honey from Tropical Forest Products. The latter was the first company to import organic honey and beeswax from Africa, nowadays importing honey and beeswax from forest beekeepers in Zambia, Ethiopia and Cameroon. Apart from the delicious flavour, the company’s development work makes a change to the livelihoods of beekeepers and their families, and ensures the continued protection of the forest by the local communities who benefit from them.
Forte’s finds the purest and finest ingredients in the world and use them to produce the best ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt available. This has led to the creation of over 35 flavours of ice creams, sorbets and frozen yoghurts all made with fresh milk, double cream and only the finest ingredients.
Finally, a Somerset restaurant has been named the best in the whole of the South West, a nice surprise for the restaurant during its 25th year. The New Farm Restaurant in South Petherton stormed to two major awards: Best South West Restaurant and No 1 Place to Go – the latter being the biggest award of the night.
John Sheaves, chief executive of organisers, Taste of the West, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the response from the South West’s food and drink industry to our awards programme this year. These awards underpin our core values and strengthen our regional brand, a brand which is attracting considerable interest from new markets.”