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All Posts By Cristina Diaconu

Heavenly Desserts Opens New Franchise

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Baxter Gate in Loughborough town centre has welcomed a new Heavenly Desserts franchise, which will provide locals with a wide range of luxury desserts, cakes and specialty hot and cold drinks. The grand opening, held on Saturday, the 16th of June, offered guests a wide range of sweet treats, such as ‘luxurious’ cookie dough, Heavenly Desserts signature waffles, as well as pancakes, fondants and cakes.

Owned by Mohammed Vhora, the new dessert shop franchise was supported by a business loan from HSBC, which helped cover the franchise fee and some of the renovations and fit-out of the property, formerly empty for 15 years.

“I’ve been working with HSBC since I started my first franchise in August 2017. Since then, the bank has been instrumental in helping me expand my business and invest in a new franchise with Heavenly Desserts. This latest venture is no exception and I’m grateful to my relationship manager at HSBC, Steve Eames, for completing the transaction smoothly and without any delays,” said Mohammed, who has a strong background experience as a franchisor.

20 employees have been recruited by Mohammed to date at a range of levels and in part-time and full-time roles. As part of the future plans, he hopes to open more Heavenly Dessert franchises over the next three years, expanding across East and West Midlands.

“We’re delighted to support Mohammed in investing in a new franchise and bringing Heavenly Desserts to Loughborough. The dessert shop has created jobs for the local economy and we’re thrilled to have provided the funding to support this,” said Dave Welch, HSBC Area Director for Business Banking in Leicestershire.

Heavenly Desserts was founded in 2008 and provides a wide range of luxury sweet treats. The business has stores in Birmingham, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Oxford and Liverpool and continues to expand through its franchise network.

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Annabel Karmel at Bluebird Café

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Bluebird Café has partnered up with Annabel Karmel, the UK’s no.1 children’s cookery author, for exclusive menu collaboration around her new book ‘Real Food Kids Will Love’. The six-week residency will be launched on the 27th of June and will see a selection of dishes from the book, forming a nutritious and inspiring menu specifically designed for Bluebird Café’s family diners.

Annabel Karmel started her career 25 years ago and has pioneered the way families all over the world feed their babies and children. Credited with starting a food revolution with her trusty recipes and methods, she has become the UK’s No.1 children’s cookery author, best-selling international author, and the mother of all feeding experts with over 40 cookbooks.

The team at Bluebird Café is thrilled to be welcoming Annabel through its new White City doors, where her signature dishes will run alongside Executive Chef Simon Gregory’s modern European menu.

Providing enticing and nutritionally balanced options guaranteed to keep toddlers and children at the table, a special kids menu will include the likes of Hidden veg Bolognese, Roast chicken, roast potatoes, squash and sage stuffing, and No-sugar chocolate orange energy balls. Not wanting mum and dad to miss out, a selection of adult and child friendly dishes will also feature on the a la carte, such as a dessert of Mini raspberry cheesecakes.

Moreover, during the residency two ticketed children’s cookery workshops, hosted by Annabel Karmel and Executive Chef Simon Gregory, will also take place. The first workshop will be hosted on Monday, the 13th of August, between 2pm and 4pm, priced at £15 per child and called ‘Gingerbread making with Annabel Karmel @ Bluebird Café’. The second one will take place on Monday, the 20th of August, between 2pm and 4pm and entitled ‘Cupcake making with Annabel Karmel @ Bluebird Café’.

Tickets can be purchased via https://shop.danddlondon.com/product-category/events/.

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Vegan Cookery Class with Katherine Frelon

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The ‘Love Your Market’ monthly series of cookery courses are returning for a third event, which will take place on Saturday, 23rd of June. Chef Katherine Frelon will be hosting the course at The Cookhouse in London’s infamous Borough Market.

The focus of the course will be on vegan dishes with Mediterranean influences, from the Amalfi Coast, France, Spain and Morocco, with Katherine demonstrating to those attending how they can find the finest and freshest ingredients in their local market and incorporate them into delicious dishes.

Students will learn how to make unique salads, marinades and dressings with a focus on how to select ingredients based on their colour, fragrance and vibrancy. Dishes will include a French Roasted Peach and Beet Salad with Rocket and Hazelnut Dressing, a Moroccan Bakula with Couscous, and a Spanish inspired Baked Red Lentil Falafel Salad.

The one day Mediterranean course will be held on Saturday, the 23rd of June, with tickets costing £95. Guests will not only have the opportunity to watch Katherine make the dishes but assist in the creation of each course and walk around the Market and select the produce from an assortment of award winning traders.

The day will start with Katherine outlining pantry essentials and the importance of a balanced vegan diet. After that, she will show guests around the market, lending her insight on what is in season and how to spot prime produce.

Following this Katherine will prepare lunch in front of guests along with a selection of vegan wines. In the afternoon guests will have the opportunity to cook alongside Katherine and learn hands on, whilst getting the chance to discuss topics of interest before they enjoy the meal freshly prepared by themselves and Katherine.

The course will be held from 9.30am to 4pm on Saturday, 23 June. To book tickets visit: https://www.designmynight.com/london/event-space/london-bridge/borough-market/plant-based-mediterranean-cookery-class-at-borough-market?t=tickets.

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Brits Prefer the Home Cinema Experience

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New research shows that more and more Brits are turning their homes into a full media experience. AppliancesDirect.co.uk, the leading household appliances retailer, carried out a survey of 1,021 UK adults, which revealed that 63% of Brits prefer to stay at home to watch films for date night rather than going out.

Moreover, 1 in 3 admitted to having a special room dedicated to home cinema experience. More than half of the respondents (57%) agreed that the increase in Brits staying in and watching films is due to the rise of on demand services such as Netflix, YouTube, NOW TV and Amazon.

Another important factor, with 41%, was the cost of actually going to the cinema. A further 32% said that they don’t want to be disturbed by others as a reason for why they have opted to stay in at home to watch films with their significant other. This was followed by more than 1 in 5 (27%) who said it is more comfortable to watch movies in their own home.

“With the increase in demand for subscription services and the wide offering of choice, this is an exciting and easy way for Brits to enjoy films with their partner at home. Watching movies in the home means that we can relax and be comfortable, whilst also not being disturbed by any unwanted noise or conversations from others,” said Mark Kelly, marketing manager at AppliancesDirect.co.uk.

The most popular choice among those who invested in the home cinema experience (43%) was the 4K TV. Soundbars came closely behind in second place, with 31% buying them for the cinematic experience. More than 1 in 5 (24%) revealed they have purchased a Blu-ray DVD player and 17% said they have bought speakers.

“There is also no need to scrimp on this experience when it comes to the equipment choice, it has become more affordable than ever before to recreate a cinema experience within our homes with the likes of TVs and soundbars, so that couples can enjoy the full movie experience for date night,” added Kelly.

 

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New Italian Restaurant to Open in Kent

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A new Italian restaurant, created by Nick Levantis and Darryl Healy, will launch in July in the market town of West Malling, Kent, in a refurbished grade II listed building. The menu at Amano combines local Kent produce with some delicacies imported from Chef Fabio Moschini’s home country.

The menu starts with Stuzzichini and Antipasti with simple plates of meats, vegetables and fresh seafood such as Calamaro grigliato (grilled squid, aioli and lemon); Patatine di Ceci (chickpea fries and anchovy mayo); Burrata e prosciutto crudo (fresh burrata with prosciutto ham and balsamic). Primi are freshly made pasta dishes with classic recipes including Spaghetti carbonara made with guanciale, pecorino and eggs, Spaghetti Pomodoro e basilico (tomato and basil) and some twists on traditional dishes including Tagliolini al granchio (crab, parsley, chilli and fresh tomato); and Risi e bisi (pea and parmesan risotto).  

Secondi features main dishes of Melanzana alla Parmigiana (baked aubergine with tomato and mozzarella); Scaloppina di pollo alla milanese (crumbed chicken escalope with a green bean salad); Sogliola alla mugnaia (lemon sole, anchovies, garlic, lemon olive oil); and Pescato del giorno catch of the day dish served with cherry tomatoes, parsley, garlic and white wine sauce. Pizzas will also be on offer as part of the evening meal.

The interiors are rustic with a play on various textures, with blackened timber cladding and clay wall finishes. Real asparagus ferns, creepers and vines, and marble table tops create a classic Mediterranean feel in a contemporary setting. The restaurant sets itself apart by its internal courtyard or Orangery area with a clear glass roof and sloping glass to let natural light shine through on the warm interiors and banquet seating beneath.

Four boutique rooms sit above the restaurant that have been individually decorated in a contemporary and functional style, with comfort in mind, retaining as many of the original features as possible from the surrounding building. Named after Italian actresses and singers, each room features Hypnos mattresses with cosy Egyptian cotton bed linens, a flat screen television, hairdryers and complimentary Wi-Fi.

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Guest Chef Series with Allan Pickett to Start Soon

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Executive Chef Allan Pickett will be inviting close friends in the industry to celebrate the very best of seasonal, British produce through a guest chef series at the iconic setting of Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe.

The dates for the summer and autumn of this year have already been confirmed and the series will see Ben Tish (Culinary Director, The Stafford), Kieren Steinborn (Chef Patron at The Falcon opening this autumn in Hertfordshire), and Simon Hulstone (Chef proprietor, Michelin-starred restaurant The Elephant in Torquay) joining Allan in the kitchen. The three separate events will be taking place on the first floor of the riverside restaurant, offering stunning views over the Thames.

Each chef will create two courses for a specially designed four-course menu, showcasing the fullest flavours of the season. Diners will have the chance to experience culinary highlights from across the UK and brought to London’s Bankside.

The first confirmed event will take place on the 2nd of July with Ben Tish. Chef, restaurateur and food writer Ben Tish is Culinary Director at the historic 5-star Stafford London hotel. Having spent the formative days of his career working alongside Michelin-starred chefs including Jason Atherton and Stephen Terry, and nine years as Chef Director of London’s Salt Yard Group, Tish is heavily inspired by his love of European cuisine that shines through in his style of cooking.

The menu for this first event has also been confirmed and it includes: Aged beef tartare, pine nut purée, green chilli, fresh coriander, spelt croutes; Ravioli of Cornish crab, tomato and soft herb vinaigrette; Pan-fried halibut, cumin and coriander spiced spinach, preserved lemon and crème fraȋche; and Vanilla infused cheesecake, strawberry glaçage, sweet cicely.

The next events will take place on the 30th of July with Kieren Steinborn, the former Head Chef at Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe and on the 17th of September with Simon Hulstone, Chef Proprietor of the Michelin-starred restaurant The Elephant.

Tickets for each dinner can be purchased from reservations@swanlondon.co.uk at a price of £95 per head (including wine pairings from the restaurant’s sommelier).

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OakNorth Finances Z Hotels

A debt finance deal of £7.3 million has been completed by OakNorth, the bank for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs, to Z Hotels, one of the UK’s top hotel operators with over 800 bedrooms across eight sites. The OakNorth loan will fund the newly opened 120-bedroom Z Tottenham Court Road hotel on Poland Street in Soho which sits in proximity to Tottenham Court Road crossrail, and Oxford Circus tube station.

“The UK has become more attractive than ever to international visitors and Brits opting for ‘staycations’ due to the pound being worth a fifth less than it was before the Brexit vote. On any given day, London’s hotels now experience 80 percent occupancy rates, and we’re in the very fortunate position to have even higher figures than this across all of our sites,” said Jonathan Raymond, Director at Z Hotels.

“We are delighted to be working with OakNorth to take our growth plans forward. We had worked with the team before so knew they had a thorough understanding of our business and the market, and that they could operate quickly and efficiently,” he continued.

In addition to this, the business is submitting planning applications for several new sites as it pursues its next phase of development and hotel openings. The £7.3m facility adds to an existing £15.2m facility that OakNorth has with the hotel chain for the development of new sites in Covent Garden and Holborn.

“Since our launch in September 2015, we have worked on a number of deals in the hotel sector – from mergers and acquisitions, to buy-outs and development. Z Hotels has a proven track record, an excellent business model, and a management team with over four decades’ experience. Their unique concept has already proven to be extremely successful, enabling them to achieve much higher occupancy rates and margins than their peers. It is a high-growth and ambitious business that we are keen to support with further expansion,” commented Deepesh Thakrar, Senior Director, Debt Finance at OakNorth.

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Cawston Press Launches Outdoor Campaign

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Cawston Press has launched its first ever outdoor advertising campaign with a series of ‘Taste of Summer’ 6 sheets that have gone live across the Waitrose estate as part of a fully integrated promotional and media campaign with the same customer. Created by the Cawston Press in house design team, the campaign will be rolled out across all areas of their marketing strategy, as well as through external customer partners.

“We miss those nostalgic days when a ‘fizzy drink’ meant a lunch break, a baking hot day, time off and time out; when drinking a can of pop was always ‘oo, that’d be nice.’ We set up Cawston Press to get a bit of that back; but without all the sugar and artificial nasties that gave fizzy a bad name. We feel this campaign sums up that sentiment perfectly. Our sales and distribution growth give us confidence that there’s an increasing opportunity for fizzy drinks made with great quality ingredients, that deserve to be enjoyed and we’re delighted to be celebrating that with our customers,” said Managing Director Steve Kearns about the campaign’s message.

The news of the campaign follow the announcement that Cawston Press has completed its fundraising round of £1 million, which was reached through existing shareholders, members of the Cawston Press team from the UK, Australia and USA as well as a select number of private investors in the food and drink industry.

Following the recent introduction of the brand’s no added sugar sparkling range recipes in the UK and a continued push for international distribution, the fundraising came at a critical moment. In 2017 the brand first launched into the US natural and speciality food channels and is now supporting this market with a bigger local team and key retailer trade marketing programmes. Later this summer, Cawston Press sparkling drinks will also launch in France.

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MAG Introduces Unique Food-Bar Concept

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A new food-led bar concept is to be introduced by MAG, the UK’s largest airport group. Proof is a modern and flexible bar concept, designed to focus on fresh, high quality food alongside a superior, spirits-led, drinks menu. The concept will be rolled out initially at MAG’s East Midlands Airport in the summer of 2018 and later on introduced at its other UK airports, Manchester and London Stansted.

Entirely owned and operated by MAG’s in house team, Proof signals MAG’s strategy to offer more of its own products to its passengers, as well as creating a unique concept among major UK airports.

MAG is innovative in the UK in establishing its own in-house food and beverage product. Ultimately, we are trying to give our passengers the best possible choice of environment as they spend time in our terminals, whether that’s at an airport lounge, at a MAG-operated bar, or at one of our fantastic partner brand restaurant, bars and coffee shops,” said Beth Brewster, Executive Vice President, Lounges, MAG.

Each Proof bar will be numbered with the year in which the host airport commenced commercial flight operations. For example, the first bar at East Midlands will, therefore, be called Proof 65. The venue will ‘nod’ towards the local history of the airport and area, and will also feature the work of local artists on its walls.

Proof 65 at East Midlands Airport will feature a varied menu of small plates, with Mediterranean flavours fused with regional ingredients, such as Egg & Red Leicester Cheese Frittata, and Hot Smoked Salmon Fish Cake with Gin Aioli. Its drinks menu will feature 15 different gins, and local specialities including Two Birds (Market Harborough), Burleighs (Loughborough) and Nelsons (Uttoxeter) featuring alongside favourites such as Sipsmith & Hendricks, beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks.

The opening will create job opportunities at East Midlands Airport, beginning this summer, and MAG are currently recruiting for a General Manager, for both Proof 65 and the airport’s popular Escape Lounge.

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Patricia Roig the New Head Chef of Lima Floral

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Patricia Roig has become the head chef of Lima Floral in Covent Garden and upon appointment was given the opportunity to work alongside Virgilio Martinez at Central in Peru, listed at number 5 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Together, they worked on the new Central menu before returning to London with a first-hand understanding of the cuisine.

Patricia’s vision for Lima Floral is to help bring a sense of real Peruvian flavours, all while retaining the authenticity of traditional Peruvian gastronomy that the restaurant is so well known for.

Patricia moved to London in 2012 when she took the role of senior sous chef at Newman Street Tavern in Fitzrovia, working under the guidance of Head Chef Peter Weeden. She credits Peter for changing her view on food whilst also helping to establish the principles that she follows today in her cooking.

Originally from Seville, Patricia Roig commenced her culinary career studying at the University of Seville in 2000, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2003. She continued her training, and four years later gained a First-Class Honours degree in Tourism. During her studies, Patricia undertook two internships, the first in 2001 as a commis chef at Miranda Suizo Hotel in Madrid, and the second a year later as chef de partie at Terraza Carmona Restaurant in Almeria.

In 2003, Patricia was appointed senior chef de partie at renowned Michelin-starred restaurant Lillas Pastia in Huesca, North of Spain. Two years later, she returned to her hometown of Seville where she worked as sous chef at Abantal, alongside her long term friend and Executive Chef Julio Fernandez, before moving to London in 2012.

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