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All Posts By Cristina Diaconu

José Pizarro Takes Over The Swan Inn Pub in Esher

The Swan Inn Pub in Esher is being taken over by popular London Chef José Pizarro. Opening in early March, the Swan Inn will bring José’s family cooking values to Esher while maintaining a British Pub feel. The menu will include José tapas favourites to share, such as his unforgettable croquetas, tortilla and 100% 5J Jamón Ibérico. The a la carte menu will feature classic pub favourites that have been given a José twist alongside signature regional Spanish dishes using locally sourced produce.

“For years I have dreamed of opening a pub but this is the first time it has been the right building in the right place. I love Esher! This is a special year for me. We call it 20:25 – 20 years since I came to England and 25 since I became a chef. To
start the year in this spectacular fashion is my best possible New Year present. Forget No Way José, I’m a Yes Way José,” said Chef Pizarro.

José and his team have spent weeks walking around Esher talking to as many local residents and visitors as possible to
learn about the area and the people who live there to really understand what will work.

Keeing with pub traditions, there will be a wide selection of real ales, draught beers and of course Estrella Damm on offer. Wines will predominantly be of Spanish origin with a small selection of European and English favourites to compliment the wine list.

The pub will offer breakfast, tapas, and an a la carte menu that includes some of Pizarro’s well-loved dishes, as well as a private dining room for celebrations. Al fresco dining will be available in the warmer months complete with an outside kitchen and food cooked over open fires. If diners fancy staying over, there are 5 cosy rooms in the converted barn next door for overnight stays.

“I am very excited for this next chapter,” said José. “There is not much else that is better than sitting infront of a roaring fireplace with local friends enjoying a pint, and I can’t wait to have that at The Swan.”

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The 11th Local Produce Show

The best of local food and drink from the South will be showcased at the Business South Local Produce Show returning on 22 January. The event, which is a sell-out in exhibition stands this year, has been established for over a decade. It is the foremost show of its kind in the region. It brings together high-quality local producers with influential catering and hospitality trade buyers.

The Show, which is organised by Business South, and sponsored by Cavendish Ships Stores, Carnival UK, Cunard, Halo Conferences & Events, Hampshire Fare, Hampshire Farmers’ Markets, New Forest Marque, and Paris Smith, aims to support the local and rural economies whilst developing food and drink supply chains.

Over 60 local producers will be exhibiting on the day including Mozzo Coffee, Hambledon Vineyard, Hildon Water, Lyburn Cheese and The Olive Architects.

For chefs and buyers, the event provides an invaluable opportunity to source new and exciting ingredients whilst supporting the regional economy and its local producers. Previous buyers have included; Carnival UK, University of Southampton, Ideal Collection, Hampshire County Council and Hilton at the Ageas.

New for 2019 will be a Meet the Buyers panel enabling producers to pitch their produce directly to a panel of buyers, and a seminar supporting the Rural Economy. A Business Advice drop in clinic will also be available for all exhibitors and business owners to use throughout the day.

Conker Spirit, Dorset’s first gin distillery has exhibited at the event for several years “Having the opportunity to meet with potential partners face to face is so important to us,” explained Rupert Holloway Head Distiller and Founder of Conker Spirit. “We pride ourselves on the quality of our spirits, but our buyers are looking for more than just the product, it’s our brand and the story behind our products that can only be fully demonstrated if we personally meet people. The Local Produce Show always enables us to meet new contacts, but also to build upon our relationships with contacts that we have met at the Show previously.”

Paul Rostand of speciality biscuit makers the Great British Biscotti Co. will be opening the event. “We have previously exhibited at the Local Produce Trade Show and I’m delighted to be opening the event this year. As a business, the Show enables us to build local partnerships which often go on to become customers. We have an objective in 2019 to build upon the food service arm of the business and with many hotels and caterers attending the event, the Show will be the perfect way for us to start the year and work towards this.”

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The Alchemist Acquires Another London Venue

Premium bar and restaurant operators, The Alchemist, have started 2019 with the announcement of an acquisition of a further London venue, adding to its ever-growing presence across the capital. The news follows the success of its recently opened St Martin’s Lane site (November 2018), and will see the operator bring its trademark of theatre served to Embassy Gardens, as part of the huge redevelopment of Nine Elms.

Already set to be a busy 2019, Embassy Gardens will mark the brand’s fourth London venue behind Bevis Marks, St Martin’s Lane, and the upcoming Old Street. Further acquisitions are  expected to be announced in the coming months.

“We are delighted with the new site and are excited to be part of the developing community at Nine Elms, there is huge rejuvenation currently underway, from Vauxhall to Battersea Power Station, as evidenced by the extension to the Northern Line next year. We are fully committed to ongoing investment in the capital where we continue to see great trade and growth in our much loved venue at Bevis Marks, as well as a brilliant start to life in the West End on St Martin’s lane. We have a talented operations support team based in the city and very much see opportunity to continue the brand evolution in London,” said Simon Potts, managing director of The Alchemist.

Following a £1.4 million investment, the new Embassy Garden’s venue is set to open in September, creating 70 full and part-time jobs for Londoners. The bar and restaurant will span over an impressive 5,200 sq. ft., accommodating 105 restaurant covers, complemented by a beautiful outdoor space hosting an additional 78 covers. Theatre and immersive experiences are at The Alchemist’s core and this, coupled with innovative presentation and sensational settings will provide an unrivalled all-day drinking and dining destination for residents, workers and tourists at Embassy Gardens.

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Gaucho Group Appoints New Executive Chef

Gaucho has announced that the appointment of Max Castaldo as the group’s new Executive chef. Born in Argentina, Max has worked at some of the world’s most renowned South American and Asian restaurants, giving him a wealth of experience producing top quality food and leading multiple teams of chefs.

Max’s role at Gaucho will see him researching and developing the restaurant’s menus on an ongoing basis, with his experience in consultation vital to his role in coaching and training chefs. His comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of a kitchen will be beneficial to the group, as well as his strong commitment to quality, sustainability and innovation.

Max’s most recent position was at The Lanesborough Hotel, where he worked as Head Chef (and interim Executive Chef) from July 2017. This role saw him overseeing the hotel’s F&B outlets and events, including Céleste, the 1 Michelin-starred restaurant. There, he managed a brigade of over 50 chefs, working with the Executive Head of Food and Beverage to develop new menus for all outlets of the hotel, with a focus on seasonality and local produce.

Beginning his career in 2010 at Nobu Berkeley Street, Max gained fantastic experience with Japanese cuisine working at their sushi bar. Following this he moved to 3 Michelin starred restaurant Lasarte in Barcelona as junior sous chef, working across various sections of the kitchen, Max gained invaluable knowledge producing food of the highest standard. Using cooking styles and techniques synonymous with Michelin-quality food, he moved to Sushisamba as sous chef, responsible for delivering a high volume of impeccable fusion food.

In 2013 Max moved to the Rosewood Hotel taking on the role of senior sous chef, overseeing kitchen operations and maintaining the highest-quality standard of food. Max began working as head chef of W London Hotel in 2016 where he oversaw the hotel’s culinary department, he fully restructured and developed the F&B concept, creating innovative dishes and bespoke menus for each outlet separately.

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Long Tail Mixers Launch in Selfridges

Newly-launched Long Tail Mixers, a UK-based mixer brand uniquely crafted to pair perfectly with dark spirits, has announced that they are now stocked in the flagship Selfridges store on Oxford Street in London.

From January 2019, the three Long Tail Mixers flavours of Blood Orange, Island Spice and Ginger Lime will be available to purchase in store. Innovatively changing the way people drink rums, bourbons and whiskies, these complementary fruity and zesty drink mixers bring the ideal tastes and aromas to go with any dark spirit, creating perfectly balanced mixed drinks and cocktails.

“We are delighted to have launched into Selfridges, and be counted among their great roster of top brands in store. They understand the uniqueness of our brand and the movement in the dark spirits market, and jumped on the opportunity to offer consumers something new and exciting. We’re excited to work with them and have our products featured in their flagship London store,” commented on the launch co-founders Alex Jollivet and Tom Wiggett.

Developed by lifelong friends, Alex Jollivet and Tom Wiggett, Long Tail Mixers was born from the cultures and flavours that come with drinking dark spirits that they experienced during their travels. Disappointed with what was available on the market to accompany dark spirits, they set out to create their own mixers using flavours that are fresh and invigorating, but not overpowering, and to produce mixers that complement the spirit’s flavour, rather than mask it.

The mixers’ three flavours – Blood Orange, Island Spice and Ginger Lime – are inspired by the sights, smells, and tastes that enhance and balance the flavour notes of dark spirits, blended from natural ingredients with carbonated spring water.

Long Tail Mixers bring new choices and fresh flavours to the mixer market, and create a new experience with every drink – bringing dark spirits to a new light. They re available now at Selfridges on Oxford Street in London: 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB.

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Crussh Launches High Street’s First Vegan Feta ‘Cheese’

Crussh Fit Food & Juice Bars has launched the high street’s first vegan feta ‘cheese’ as part of a wrap.  The Butternut, harissa & vegan ‘feta’ wrap (£3.99) is now available at all 35 stores across London.

The launch is part of the brand’s ‘Powered by Plants’ campaign, an initiative that sees eight new vegan products launch across all Crussh branches, celebrating plants in all their glory.  Highlights include Red pepper & corn chowder (£3.75), Lemon tart pot (£2.75) Banana & coconut cacao spread bagel(£2.50) and freshly pressed Power Greens Juice (from £4.00).

The healthy food and juice chain also announced that it has turned its Soho store (Broadwick Street) 100% plant-based for the entire month of January as part of Veganuary, boasting over 70 vegan recipes.  Turning one store completely plant-based will allow the healthy food & juice chain to see how consumers respond to a fully vegan Crussh, and whether this may be a sustainable business model for the future.

Already a destination for vegans, Crussh stores across London and the South East boast a food & drink range that is already over 45% plant-based (an increase from 22% in Jan 2017), currently selling over 50 vegan products at all of its sites, including best-sellers Jackfruit Tinga Fit Bowl, served with sweet potato mash, guacamole & fresh slaw and an Avocado, red pepper & cashew nut tapenade wrap. Over 70% of the Crussh food range is vegetarian.

Always pioneering in the health & wellness market, Crussh, London’s original green juice retailer, was first to introduce dairy-free porridge to the high street, launched back in early 2000s, and, most recently, was the first launch a vegan ‘cheese’ toastie, in Jan 2018. Crussh currently offers the broadest range of alternative milks on the high street, at all of its locations – soya, almond, coconut and oat.

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Halo Top & Deliveroo Bring you FREE Tubs of Ice Cream

As the self-care trend continues to surge, #JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out) is quickly becoming the new #FOMO (fear of missing out), and people are ditching those cumbersome plans en masse. Even Deliveroo has seen an increasing trend of orders spiking over the winter, proving that Brits prefer a night in with their favourite food over braving the cold outside.

With the dreary weather making #JOMO even more enticing this January, Halo Top will launch Halo Top Drop to make those cozy moments at home even better by delivering 20,000 tubs of FREE ice cream straight to people’s doorstep!

From 16 – 31 January, America’s most talked about feel-good ice cream brand is partnering with Deliveroo to help people relax and reset by offering consumers based in London and Brighton free tubs of delicious Halo Top ice cream. Each order placed via Deliveroo Editions will include one free tub of Halo Top, while supplies last (up to 20,000 orders).

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Halo Top and Deliveroo will also give out a further 5,000 tubs of ice cream to tired commuters on their way home! A thousand tubs a day will be handed out from 21st-25th Jan at either Euston or Clapham Junction stations from 6.00pm to brighten up people’s evenings as they head home in the dark.

At only 280-360 calories per tub, consumers can feel good spooning into delicious ice cream, as they say yasss to #JOMO from the comfort of their homes. Customers will receive one of the seven-core flavours based on availability: Sea Salt Caramel, Mint Chip, Chocolate Flavoured, Vanilla Bean, Cinnamon Roll, Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

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D&D London’s Live Your Lunch Break Campaign

D&D announced a year-long campaign for 2019 to raise awareness for the activities of a number of charities aimed at improving the quality of people’s lives. The group-wide initiative will see D&D partner with a selection of dedicated charities throughout 2019, working alongside them to provide customers with good value, delicious lunches and a curated line-up of inspiring speakers and lunch break activities.

In collaboration with selected charity partners, an eclectic monthly schedule of activity will be on offer, including ‘in-conversations with’ motivational and entrepreneurial experts, monthly book clubs with guest authors, and pop up fitness classes – providing opportunities to learn, keep fit and relax at lunch.

The first partnership from the series is with The Felix Project, an organisation that saves surplus food from suppliers and redistributes to charities which provide healthy meals to the most vulnerable in our society. A line up of events for January and February focuses on sustainability and food waste, including Kids Allotment workshops with D&D chefs Simon Gregory and Francesco Mazzei, a Ready Steady Chef competition using leftover produce, and an Art Attack stunt to raise awareness for food waste with Bluebird White City and other Television Centre restaurants.

“We wanted in 2019 as a company to collaborate more closely with organisations we admire and who are dedicated to improving the quality of people’s everyday lives. We are particularly pleased to be kicking off the campaign with the Felix Project. The Felix Project addresses two of the most important food issues today-reducing waste and feeding the many people in London who go hungry. We in D&D care passionately about both issues and I am certain our customers do too and will therefore support our initiative,” said Des Gunewardena, CEO & Chairman of D&D.

Subsequent charity partners will include Women’s Aid, with a line up including a fitness class with Alice Liveing and a Women in Wine series, as well as Rays of Sunshine and Pink Ribbon Foundation.

To help raise funds for the partners, Live Your Lunch Break will see D&D London adding a discretionary £1 donation on all lunch bills throughout the campaign.

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The Bell Inn Awarded Regional Winner

The Bell Inn have won The Times 100 best British hotels within just 6 months of launching their newly renovated eight bedrooms. The rooms offer simple and comfortable but modern style while retaining the relaxed countryside feel.

The owners, Peter Creed and Tom Noest, were selected as Marina O’Loughlin and Giles Coren’s favourite 100 Restaurants in 2018, which was a huge achievement after just 12 months of trade. Their breakfast will be offering the same hearty home style with a continental offering and cooked breakfast which showcases; Full English with local country Kelmscot Pork and Cacklebean Eggs, Devilled Kidneys on Sourdough and Smoked Kippers. In October they were also awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand for serving high quality food at a reasonable price.

“As the head chef at The Bell Inn I enjoy cooking different seasonal food all year round and I take as much pride in my breakfast menu as all of the other menus we offer,” commented Tom.

The Bell also offers their main pub which includes – The bar which sits next to the restaurant with cosy corners and a traditional flag stoned floor, seating 25 comfortably. Next door is the 35-cover restaurant which is situated next to the kitchen where the woodfired oven lives.

Rooms range from £69 to £149 with continental breakfast included. Each room has a en-suit walk-in shower with 100 Acre natural bathroom products. The ethos of the rooms is to be stylish whilst retaining the historical character of the pub and to provide very comfortable beds with excellent bathrooms and luxury toiletries. When the shooting season hits, they will be offering shooting packages of Bed, Full English Breakfast and evening 3 course feast for £120pp.

“When we originally found The Bell Inn we wanted a place with character and this place certainly ticks those boxes. One of the main objectives for us when developing the rooms was to make sure they were as comfortable as possible with stylish interiors and great natural English toiletries. We tested a fair number of mattresses and we feel we have found the king of all comforts,” said Peter Creed, General Manager.

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The Farmer’s Arms Is Now Open

The Farmer’s Arms, a Grade II listed, thatched roof local pub dating back to the mid-17th century, has undergone a major renovation as part of a wider ambitious rejuvenation of the village of Woolsery in North Devon. The former blacksmiths-turned-inn has been transformed into a beautiful pub and restaurant, with two bars, a dining room, a small upstairs lounge and garden with outside seating.

The Farmer’s Arms was purchased in 2015 by Michael and Xochi Birch – co-founders of social networking site, Bebo. Michael, who has family ties to the area and whose grandmother was born above Woolsery’s village shop, heard the derelict building was for sale and couldn’t turn down the opportunity to bring it back to life. The historic building had suffered neglect for many years, but has now been sensitively reimagined, the fallen through roof re-thatched, the walls rebuilt, and reclaimed oak floors laid.

Ian Webber, formerly head chef at Michelin starred Gidleigh Park Hotel in Devon, is Executive Chef of The Farmer’s Arms. Originally from Devon, Webber’s passion for local sourcing is evident in his cooking, with the menus focusing on local farming and suppliers, foraged herbs and regional dishes.

There are two menus available – a rustic, hearty traditional bar menu served in the pub and a more refined option served in the restaurant, where the spotlight is on local ingredients and balanced flavour combinations. This menu is available in the Shippon, West Barn and 10-cover private dining room.

The opening of The Farmer’s Arms is part of a wider project within Woolsery village. The project includes the refurbishment of the recently reopened Farmer’s Arms pub and restaurant, Woolsery Fish & Chip Shop, The Village Post Office and Shop (currently open but will undergo a renovation in 2019), four guest cottages located in the village centre and a hotel set within a Grade II listed Georgian manor house – all set to open in 2021.

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