Tag Archives: Show report


Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2017

Speciality & fine foodAnother September, another Speciality & Fine Food Fair at Olympia. The venue opened its doors to the eager hordes of visitors and exhibitors to this prestigious event from 3 to 5 September.

Open only to the trade, the first show opened 17 years ago and since then, has expanded enormously to embrace all aspects of the speciality food market.

Kara Bowen, Event Manager, said “Speciality & Fine Food Fair has, without a doubt, been at the forefront of the UK’s gourmet food and drink industry for nearly 18 years. Buyers from retail, foodservice and wholesale rely on the Fair as it provides an exclusive opportunity for discovery and inspiration. It is also a fantastic platform for producers to grow their business.”

Debut and Returns

This year, more than 700 food and drink producers attended, including nearly 200 suppliers making their debut. Among a number of new features, the old favourites such as the Discovery Zone, the Great Taste Awards and the Chocolate Trail were eagerly awaited. The Discovery Zone unveiled the latest food and drink delights from new businesses. Its stands are exclusively reserved for companies who have only been trading in the UK for up to 36 months.

Despite the unpopular sugar tax, chocolate and confectionery are still firm favourites. The Speciality & Fine Food Fair is heralded as the UK’s finest trade showcase of luxury and gourmet chocolate. The Speciality Chocolate Trail did not disappoint and led visitors through the halls of Olympia to over 50 fine and artisan chocolate producers.


Savour the Flavour: Live Kitchen, also drew the crowds. It featured practical tips and advice from some of the industry’s best known chefs and personalities.

This demonstration was supplemented with Food for Thought which offered visitors workshops on trending topics, and Scale Up which provided in-depth round-table discussions on key business queries. Topics covered included Cooking Successfully with Allergies, Mastering Cheese and The Proof is the Provenance.

A company that attracted a lot of interest was Grub, which offered edible insects. Apparently, as well as being tasty, insects are nutritious and sustainable, high in protein, minerals like iron and calcium and containing essential amino acids like Omega 3 and 6!

The Speciality & Fine Food Fair offers a platform for artisan food and drink, from centuries old heritage brands to up-and-coming new food businesses. The success of the 2017 show is to be repeated next year from 2 to 4 September at the same venue.


Published Date: 19th September 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Events, News
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The Catering Equipment Show 2017

Catering Equipment ShowThe NEC at Birmingham played host to the Catering Equipment Show last week from 5-6 June.

Commercial Kitchen is the multi-award nominated trade show for the UK’s catering equipment industry and attracts over 2,000 visitors.

Visitors and exhibitors

Exhibitors came from all parts of the industry, with over 80 leading industry suppliers showcasing innovative catering equipment, devices and services. The show attracted representatives from big names like EAT, Pret, Costa, Sainsbury’s, Subway, Tesco, Debenhams, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Casual Dining Group, ASK Italian, Mitchells & Butlers, Zizzi, Greene King, Thwaites, Whitbread, Gate Gourmet, Merlin Entertainment Sodexo, Brakes, National Trust and Bourne Leisure.

In addition there were visitors from the widest range of public and private sector industries from independent restaurants, schools and universities, to local authorities and attractions.

There were plenty of people to see and hear at the show. Conversation sessions included Vivek Singh, executive chef and founder of The Cinnamon Collection, Claire Clark MBE and Robert Quehan, head chef at The Redwood Bistro, Bishopstoke Park.

Panel discussions covered pub kitchens, sustainability, kitchen design, the important role of equipment distributors, multi-site restaurant innovation, foodservice consultants, hospital kitchens and prison kitchens.

Rational Oven Award

The show also featured the Commercial Kitchen Innovation Challenge Awards where the top ten exhibitors to have secured the most visitor votes were invited to pitch their new innovations. The results saw four companies receiving gold awards, four being awarded silver and two taking home bronze. The Rational SelfCookingCenter XL was awarded silver.

AC Services (Southern) was delighted to see the Rational appliance recognised and appreciated for its reliability, performance and innovation.

A Show to Attend?

For those in the catering business, it’s worth considering whether to attend next year’s Catering Equipment Show. Perhaps the words of two key attendees may help.

. “We are always looking for the latest in technology to improve our kitchens’ efficiency and food quality. Commercial Kitchen is the perfect event to identify tomorrow’s technology today and network with industry experts,” Kumour Uddin, executive group chef at Anglian Country Inns .

As someone who wants the best equipment for our teams and customers, Commercial Kitchen and the Catering Equipment Show is a good and very relevant show for me. I look forward to attending again and watching this important event grow over the coming years.” Dirk Wissmann, senior equipment buyer at Pret A Manger.


Published Date: 13th June 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre
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Food & Drink Trade Show Malvern

Food & Drink Trade Show MalvernThere can be no better location for a trade show than the Three Counties Showground in rural Malvern. The town where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein often met for a social pint (check out the Unicorn pub) is overshadowed by the  Malvern Hills. The showground lies at the foot of the hills and has a vast amount of space to host the annual Food & Drink Trade Show. The show was billed as a unique blend of inspirational speciality food and drink products and exhibitors ranged from small, regional suppliers to international traders.

Decision makers from the food service and hospitality, caterers, cafes, guest houses, hotels and restaurants, holiday parks, takeaways and pubs attended the event. Representatives from numerous retail outlets from delicatessens to farm shops and grocers, supermarkets to tourist attractions, garden centres and independent stores also came to see what was on new in food and drink.

Food & Drink Trade Show Offers

The show offers were a fantastic incentive for visitors, with price deductions and free tasters for anyone purchasing at the show. Boddington’s Berries offered 10% of any orders placed at the show. Ethical Addictions Coffee promised free delivery, installation and training on all Fracino espresso machines ordered or a free grinder. Particularly popular was When in Rome who offered free shipping and a wooden wine refill dispenser. While those ordering over 20 wine boxes also could get 20 free refillable bottles.

There were plenty of other goodies. Blacks Cheese showed off its range of award-winning cheese made allegedly, “with love, milk and some magic.” Celtic Vale’s Natural Mineral Water and Hatterrall Ridge Spring Water are bottled at source from two natural springs locally situated in the Herefordshire/Welsh borders.

Aagrah Foods exhibited its Kashmiri and Indian Tarka cooking sauces, handmade in Yorkshire. While local company Hamptons Sweet Cakes went down a treat! And Hay Wines revealed its exclusive range of Proseccos, including the UK’s only zero sugar Prosecco. The selection also included good-value organic, vegan, low-sulphite, natural wines featuring the only sparkling orange wine.

Demo Kitchen

The Demo Kitchen was very well populated, with chef demonstrations taking place on the Love Food Roadshow‘s demonstration kitchen. Hosted by celebrity chef, Felice Tocchini, the kitchen featured a range of exciting and informative cookery demonstrations.

Other chefs included Andy Link, chef patron at the acclaimed Riverside Inn at Aymestry, a finalist in the ‘Best Eating Out’ category at the Visit Herefordshire Awards for Excellence 2016. Local chef Matt Slocombe recently won the ‘Best Cider Pub’ in the Great British Pub awards. His pub, the Crown Inn at Woolhope was recognised for its Sunday lunches in the Best British Roast Dinner Awards. Yvette Farrell, Principal of Harts Barn Cookery School, demonstrated her signature Taste of Forest Menu. This comprised forest mushroom ravioli, griddled wild boar with wilted buttered garlic greens.

The Malvern Food & Drink Trade Show organisers were delighted with the turnout, the quality of visitors and welcoming a number of newcomers to the event.


Published Date: 9th May 2017
Category: Blog, Events, News
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Farm Shop and Deli Show 2017

Farm shop & deli show 2017Yet again, the NEC in Birmingham played host to a popular and exciting trade show, this time the Farm Shop & Deli Show from 24 to 26 April.

Now in its seventh year, the show returned triumphantly to the NEC with a multitude of speakers, stands and awards for food retailers. It was heralded as the biggest show to date with over 450 exhibitors on hand to showcase their food, beverage, gifts and equipment products.

This specialist retail event not only offered innovation but product sampling, informative sessions and of course, the annual Farm Shop & Deli Awards ceremony. Overall, there were 13 category winners and nine regional winners, recognising the best specialist independent UK retailers. The winners were selected from a plethora of entries and over 3,000 consumer votes.

South West Representation

The South West region was proudly represented and Hobbs House Bakery from Tetbury in Gloucestershire came away with Baker of the Year and South West regional winner. Winners of the first ever Newcomer of the Year Award, Brace of Butchers from Dorchester, also reached the finals in the Butcher of the Year category.

Apart from the awards, there were a number of sessions held by experienced and stimulating speakers. Topics covered learning how to maximise profits whilst embracing innovation, chaired by renowned chef, Richard Fox. Saira Khan hosted a talk on customer engagement. Paul Hargreaves CEO of Cotswold Fayre, showed visitors how to harness people power and how to build a workplace community to empower teams and enable retailers to retain their top talent.


The predominant theme of the show was innovation. The Farm Shop & Deli Show showcased concepts and creations in products, ingredients, drinks, equipment and digital tools. New Fori Bars, marketed as “the love child of premium jerky and a top-notch granola bar,” and proved popular with the visitors. These are meat-based snack protein-bars-with-a-twist combining high-quality meat with fruit and seeds available in Piri Piri Chicken, Moroccan Lamb and Chilli Beef varieties. Based in Llanelli South Wales, the company uses organic apricots and dates avoiding sulphites and sorbates.

Other innovative products included:

  • Low Sugar Brownies, Blondies, and Greenies from Adonis Smart Foods created in response to a lack of low sugar snacks and contain mainly nuts, seeds and fibres.
  • Raisthorpe Oak-Aged Yorkshire Gin which takes mineral water from an ancient spring in Raisthorpe and then distils this with watercress and fresh botanicals.

Dragon’s Pantry was held during the show and was an immediate success. Daring entrepreneurs braved a panel of industry ‘dragons’ to pitch new products and in return received professional (even brutal) advice on perfecting their pitch before braving the presentation sessions.

Finally, one of the most attended events was the 2017 Britain’s Best Loaf competition, sponsored by Rank Hovis, which took place at the Farm Shop & Deli Show. There were five categories – sourdough, wholegrain, white, innovation and gluten-free and the competition was harsh!

Another show and another success from the NEC. The Farm Shop & Deli Show will return to the same venue next April.


Published Date: 2nd May 2017
Category: Blog, Events, News
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Hotel, Catering and Retail Show

Hotel, Catering and Retail ShowFrom now until the end of summer, the South Coast will be busy with tourists and visitors from far afield. All hoping to take advantage of the beaches and seaside events that the region offers. It started early in Bournemouth, with the International Centre hosting the Hotel, Catering and Retail Trade Show on 14-15th March.

Featuring innovative products, plentiful food and drink product tastings, and discussions on the latest trends and developments, the show was as always a chance for suppliers and key industry players to interact and exchange ideas and advice.

New Products

Over 100 exhibitors took centre stage with many launching new products and services. Curio Spirits Company launched its Cornish Cup, a drink inspired by the traditional punch used in the British Navy during the 17th century. The five main ingredients are all natural, and sourced locally: spirits, water, sugar, citrus and tea.

The Pampas Plains company was new to the show. It has just launched the flatiron steak to both trade customers and catering customers and sources meat from around the world.

Piddle Brewery introduced Dorset’s first Gluten-Free Beer. Independently tested and certified by Coeliac UK, the brewery has taken its existing 4.3% best seller, Cocky IPA and made it gluten free.

New for 2017, the Purbeck Ice Cream  team has introduced three new flavours of ice cream – Dorset Truffle, Salted Maple and Chai Latte and an incredible new Pineapple sorbet. All made on the farm in Dorset. Not to be outdone New Forest Ice Cream unveiled two brand new, wonderfully indulgent ice creams, Choc Chip Cookie Dough and the Berry & Apple Crumble Ice Cream.

Demos Galore

However the show was not all about products. Leading chefs demonstrated their favourite signature dishes and culinary skills in the Demo Kitchen. Mixologists sprang into action in the Liquid Hall. Artisan Producers from Dorset and Hampshire exhibited in both halls, bringing some local flavours which appealed to both retail and food service buyers.

Seminars included a Food Allergen Masterclass. This was an introductory session on how to ensure that providing for the free-from customer is not an afterthought. An excellent talk on Food and Culture, Heritage and Tradition focusing on the iconic cream tea. How we see it today, tomorrow and potentially how we will see it in 20 years time.

Other talks included how surplus food can help change lives from FareShare UK. Every day eight million people in the UK struggle to feed themselves. FareShare depots nationwide help to tackle this problem, providing a positive solution for surplus food.

There was something for everyone at the Hotel, Catering and Retail Show which will return to the same venue next year. Not just a product platform, the show encourages anyone involved in the industry to network and exchange information. This helps the catering corps provide the best to the public. And the importance of those information exchanges is why AC Services Southern shares these show reports.


Published Date: 21st March 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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PUB17 at Olympia Show Report

PUB17 Show LogoA recent report from Oxford Economics (OE), commissioned by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), has found that the beer and pub industry in Britain employs nearly 900,000 people with a contribution of £23.1bn to the British economy. There are more than 49,000 pubs across the country. With more pubs now serving food as a profitable sideline, there is great interest in this sector.

So as the only dedicated trade show for the pub industry in the UK, you would expect PUB17 to be popular. And to the delight but not the surprise of the organisers, it was bigger and more attended than ever before, showing an 8% increase year on year.

The two-day show took place at Olympia from 7 to 8 February, with more than 3,700 visitors coming through the doors. Over 200 exhibitors showcased their products and dozens of free-to-attend talks from the leading lights of the industry took place. The talks were categorised into three areas: the Taste Table, the PUB Theatre and the Margin Masterclass.

Relevant Seminars

These talks targeted current and relevant issues, from Brexit to recruitment and retention in the hospitality industry. Wotzon gave a masterclass on a new app that lets user find out everything they want to know about a pub, and Borough Wines tapped into the potential of using kegged wines.

One of the most direct talks came from JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin  who argued that two taxes are killing pubs – business rates and VAT. He advocated that the “industry campaigns to prioritise excise duty help supermarkets as well as pubs”.

Supermarkets pay about 2% of their sales as business rates whereas pubs are assessed for business rates at about 12% of sales. By the same equation, pubs pay 20% VAT on food sales, whereas supermarkets pay almost nothing. He went on to state that “the message from the industry needs to ring out loud and clear – lower excise duty is important, but tax equality is paramount.

Great Success

PUB17 was a great success with visitors, exhibitors and organisers all satisfied with the turnout and the feedback. George Nightingale, owner of Spoken Bar in Exmouth, said: “PUB17 was a showcase of must-have brands in the industry, but most importantly some of the latest products and innovations.”

Sam Gunn, PUB17 marketing manager said: “PUB17 was another fantastic show and we are thrilled with the results. Its success is testament to the importance of providing a show dedicated to pubs, which keeps publicans up-to-date with trends, provides them with new ideas and insight, and networking opportunities with like-minded individuals.”

PUB18 will return to London on 6th and 7th February 2018.


Published Date: 21st February 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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The Great Hospitality Show

Great Hospitality Show Logo2017 has got off to a great start in the food industry. Despite the shortages of vegetables in the supermarkets thanks to the bad weather in Spain, the UK is continuing its tradition of excellence in terms of exhibitions.

The first big show of the year, the Great Hospitality Show took place at the NEC from 23 to 25 January.

Packed with products and exhibitors, this is the UK’s largest event for the hospitality and foodservice industry in 2017. It has also been heralded as the only show focusing on the business of hospitality.

Trends and Innovations

The show provides a platform for networking and a showcase for cutting edge products across catering equipment, food and drink, interiors and technology. The event featured a wide range of fresh talent, future trends and innovations to help the industry. The three days saw numerous debates, seminars and demonstrations.

The Salon Culinaire at Great Hospitality Show encompassed a broad range of classes for competitors of all levels, from cocktail mixology to preparing a best end of lamb to filleting lemon sole. The Business Briefing Stage provided an invaluable selection of business seminars. These targeted the main current issues surrounding British hospitality, delivering industry insight, debate and discussion on the trends making the headlines.

The Staff Canteen Live allowed visitors to witness the culinary skills of some of the UK’s leading chefs in a highly interactive environment. Chefs were able to offer advice and take questions throughout their whole cooking demonstration and explain their cooking skills to visitors. Chefs included Glynn Purnell of Purnell’s with by head pastry chef, Luke Butcher, Dom Chapman from The Beehive, Shay Cooper from The Goring Hotel London and André Garrett, executive chef at Cliveden House.

Great Product Awards

The Great Product Awards were unveiled during the Great Hospitality Show and attracted a great deal of attention. The 12 shortlisted entrants were selected from the sectors of food and drink, catering equipment, technology and interiors and tableware.

The entrants included the SuperFast Thermapen 4 from Electronic Temperature Instruments Limited. This accurately measures the temperature of a product in just three seconds, saving chefs time in busy kitchens.

NAH Foods Ltd showcased its Konjac allergen free spaghetti. This only needs to be heated through rather than cooked thus making it a quick and easy product for chefs.

The GIZGO pod from iQi Charge Ltd is a portable charger with an integrated iPhone and android cable plus two USB ports. This product allows customers to charge their phones at the table, helping businesses increase footfall, dwell time and revenue.

The eventual winner was BGL Rieber’s Thermoport Midi-K, insulated food transport box.

The show returns in 2019. In the meantime, at AC Services (Southern) we will be watching the trends in hospitality industry closely to continue to provide the best service for our many clients.


Published Date: 7th February 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Events, News



BBC Good Food Show 2016 Birmingham

BBC Good Food Show BirminghamIt was Birmingham’s turn to host the latest BBC Good Food Show and the halls of the NEC were filled to bursting point with visitors and exhibitors.

The show itself travels the length and breadth of the country, with venues at Glasgow SECC, London Olympia, Hampton Court Palace and Birmingham. The NEC hosts the show twice a year in the winter and in the summer.

Even the bitter cold spell didn’t discourage visitors. They flocked in their thousands to mingle with TV celebrity chefs and take away inspiration from the demonstrations and vast amounts of delicious food on display.

As usual, the stars were out in force. TV favourites Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood kept the crowds entertained as did the Hairy Bikers, Raymond Blanc and the winner of the 2015 Great British Bake Off, Nadiya Hussain. Other celebrity chefs included Tom Kerridge, James Martin, Michel Roux Jr, Barney Desmazery and Marcus Bean. Also spotted in the lineout was Eddie the Eagle Edwards!

For all food lovers, there was plenty of action at the show. Wherever you looked, something food-related was happening. The ever-popular Supertheatre was standing room only for most of the event, with celebrity chefs showing their culinary skills over the three days. There were cookery demonstrations ranging from baking to roasting to the more exotic. Both hosts and guests enjoyed the freedom of the dedicated area to create traditional and innovative food.

Staged Events

Another popular event was the BBC Good Food Stage where live interviews and demonstrations with the nation’s favourite chefs and experts took place. Similarly, the BBC Good Food Kitchen enabled visitors to dine on dishes inspired by recipes by bbcgoodfood.com

For those just wanting to browse and experience different foods, there were shopping opportunities at every turn, from local producer markets to international food pavilions where food from all continents was available for purchase. With November being ‘World Vegan Month’, the BBC Good Food Show revealed tasty treats and food for all vegan palettes, with some exciting new flavours and brands.

New products included additive free handmade breads and patisseries from Hedonist Bakery like the Farmers Country Grain loaf which was packed with grains and nuts. Munchy Seeds provided various flavours including honey, chilli and even sweet varieties like choccy apricot enriched with omega 3.

The BBC Good Food Shows are all about live entertainment, cooking inspiration, shopping and tasting in combination with award-winning UK’s chefs and experts cooking live. The NEC will be hosting next year’s summer spectacular, but there are shows taking place everywhere around the country. So go along and be inspired.


Published Date: 6th December 2016
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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Independent Hotel Show: A Voice for the Industry

Independent Hotel ShowThe Independent Hotel Show 2016 took place last week at Olympia West, London. The show has established itself as the UK’s largest business event supporting the luxury, independent hotel and boutique hotel sector. This year it attracted more visitors than ever.

Over 300 innovative product and service providers alongside expert key speakers at the Seminar Programme were present over the two-day event for advice and innovations to improve the efficiency and profitability of independent hoteliers.

Industry Report

One of the most influential events was the Zeitgeist Talk and report . Commissioned by the Independent Hotel Show, and penned by Melvin Gold Consulting Ltd, this thought leadership discussion summarised and emphasised the key issues facing independent hotels operating in the UK today.

Although acknowledging that the UK independent hotel sector is shrinking, the discussion revealed that the sector is still strong and continues to wield great influence. Independent hotel rooms still comprise more than half of the serviced accommodation rooms in the UK. The discussion cited the seaside resorts as excellent examples of best practice and innovation that emanate in independent hotels in reigniting tourism.

Five key differentiating factors for independent hotels in today’s hotel market were identified: individuality; locality; freedom; personality and innovation.

The talk concluded that “there is little doubt that the hotel brands will continue their growth and equally that some independent hotels might fall by the wayside. Some may choose to rebrand but the majority will remain … the best will provide leadership and innovation for the whole hotel sector and this report highlights key topics, actions and opportunities that are likely to underpin their success.”

Way Out, Way Forward

Other seminars covered the Brexit effect, marketing trends, and advice on current best online practices presented by eviivo. This talk explained the importance of efficiently promoting and selling rooms throughout the coming year using online media to the maximum.

There was also an excellent seminar on what the future looks like from an aesthetic viewpoint: what’s the right balance between classic and progressive? How can every hotel have its own visual identity?

The emphasis was firmly upon creative thinking and looking to the future. The seminars were extremely well attended by hotel managers and owners seeking to accommodate the evolving needs and priorities of tomorrow’s consumer.

As far as awards go, Kate Levin was crowned Independent Hotelier of the Year and The Laslett was pronounced the Most Outstanding New Hotel.

The Independent Hotel Show gives a voice to the hotelier within the sector and offers a forum for participants in this sector to meet and exchange values and ideas. Next year’s show is already in the planning stages so remember to put it in your diary to attend.


Published Date: 25th October 2016
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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Three for the Price of One

Restaurant Show 2016 plus Bar ShowThe Restaurant Show 2016, billed as the ultimate destination for the hospitality industry to connect, celebrate and discover, took place last week at Olympia in London.

Over three days, the exhibition attracted some of the most well-known chefs and decision-makers in the industry as well as hordes of visitors!

This year, the show was held in conjunction with two other exhibitions. The Bar & Pub Show, delivered in partnership with The Morning Advertiser, and The Conscious Hospitality Show. In addition, The Restaurant Show also included a new dedicated area, Catering Equipment Expo to showcase the latest trends in the presentation of food and drink from around the world.

Bar & Pub Show

The Bar & Pub Show was a huge success, catering for those involved in the management and ownership of UK pubs and bars. Live events covered a range of relevant issues including design, front of house and tableware and entertainment providers. In short anything that could boost the financial opportunities for the great British pub trade.

The Conscious Hospitality Show highlighted the changes in how people view their food. The age of the conscious consumer has arrived and the show discussed a variety of topics, including health and nutrition, responsible sourcing, sustainability and ethical business practices.

Restaurant Show 2016

A major highlight of the Restaurant Show 2016 was the live line-ups, featuring some of the industry’s most exciting names, led by Phil Vickery, who showcased their signature dishes.

The OpenTable Insights session on running and growing a restaurant featured insights, real-life success stories and advice. The favourite event appeared to be the World Steak Challenge, where visitors had the opportunity to sample the world’s best steak! Edible insects were also a popular attraction.

The introduction of a new area, the Liquid Hub gave visitors the opportunity to learn about alternative drinks, with an interesting talk on the popularity of Japanese sake and new wines from unusual climates.

A range of topics were discussed on the main stage. This included a fascinating discussion on how to capture a slice of the lucrative family dining market, where the psychology of eating out as a family was presented.

As usual, Restaurant Show 2016 heralded an impressive line-up of expert speakers and passionate visitors. Along with the other shows, Olympia was once again bombarded by hordes of eager visitors. The next Restaurant Show has already been lined up for October 2017 so put it in your diary now.


Published Date: 11th October 2016
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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