Sign up to be the first to know about blog features

All Posts By Cristina Diaconu

Popular US Subs Land in the UK

The popular American sandwich chain, Jon Smiths Subs has opened its first ever UK location in Hammersmith. The cult sub slingers have 35 locations across the USA and have now set up shop in the vibrant west London neighbourhood to show city diners exactly why the classic American sandwich is such a Stateside staple.

The King Street store will be the American icon’s UK flagship, serving up delicious, mouth-watering and fresh off the grill subs with all the trimmings. The brand is known in America for serving up the finest authentic subs in generously sized portions. All food is cooked fresh to order including fries and the freshly baked in store cookies.

The new Hammersmith menu includes the grilled steak and chicken subs that has made the snack chain so popular in the US, with all meats marinated overnight to make them extra tender and tasty. Subs like the famous marinated sirloin steak sub, giant deli subs and the grilled chicken subs are accompanied by farm fresh vegetables and served up on Italian-style and whole wheat sub rolls.

“After much searching for the perfect location for the first UK store, we finally decided on Hammersmith. We think it is the idea spot to launch the Jon Smith Subs UK flagship store as it is a busy and vibrant area, situated in the heart of London. It is home to a diverse and exciting community and is easily accessible to the residents of all the surrounding boroughs. Hammersmith is also home to numerous office blocks and prosperous businesses making it the obvious choice to start the Jon Smith Subs UK journey,” said owner, Omar Al-Magribi.

“Jon Smith Subs is very well established in the USA and has been operating since 1988. As a result of their huge success in the States, they have begun to franchise out internationally with stores now rapidly popping up all over the globe. One of their most recent international stores was in Portugal. We are confident that Jon Smith Subs will be a huge hit here in the UK and can’t wait to show the people of Hammersmith what an authentic American sub really tastes like,” he added.

Share this article

The Royal Photographic Society Opens New Building

The Royal Photographic Society has opened its new centre for photography. The new space will showcase photography and provide a new cultural attraction in Bristol, one of the UK’s most active hubs for the creative industries. The building is situated in the Paintworks creative quarter, close to the city centre. The newly built building has been refurbished to the RPS’s specification and comprises of a high-quality exhibition space, 101 – seat auditorium, an education and resource centre and accommodation for the RPS staff.

“Our building brings a public exhibition space back to The Royal Photographic Society for the first time since 2001, so that it can show the best of photography to inspire and excite the public. The building restates the RPS’s commitment to photography and reinforces its own place within the medium it has been integral to for the past 165 years,” said Mike Taylor, Chief Operating Officer.

“The building is part of the charity’s wider strategy supporting photography, engaging photographers, and educating the public – looking to the future at a time when photography and the moving image have never been more relevant to the human experience,” he added.

This significant achievement for the RPS will further its mission statement to educate members of the public and inspire a passion for the art of photography. The theme for the 2019 exhibition programme is ‘discovery’ and will showcase visually stunning artworks from international photographers.

The opening exhibition, the International Photography Exhibition 161, showcases the best of photography from established and young photographers. These 100 images by 54 international photographers cover a wide range of photographic practices from portraiture and landscape, to the use of photography to comment on contemporary issue and highlight personal stories.

Exhibitors include Catherine Hyland (UK), Heather Agyepong (UK), Alys Tomlinson (UK), Thomas Duffield (UK) and Christopher Bethell (UK). Each exhibition will be accompanied by a dynamic learning programme of lectures, talks, film screenings and workshops.

The building will also support the RPS’s wider education programme which includes practical workshops, courses and new educational offerings. The RPS programme of distinctions assessments which recognise individuals’ skills across the medium will continue in the enhanced space.

Share this article

Catering Equipment Finalist in Prestigious Awards

A Gloucestershire catering equipment manufacturer has been shortlisted as a finalist in the People’s Choice Awards 2019, and is calling on its home county to cast their votes in a bid to scoop the coveted accolade. Following its shortlisting in the prestigious Family Business of the Year Awards 2019 last month, Target Catering Equipment has automatically been shortlisted in Family Business United’s People’s Choice Awards 2019.

Acting as the only representative of Gloucestershire in both awards, the 2nd generation family-run business, which has been producing quality, bespoke catering equipment to the foodservice industry for over 30 years, is urging voters to help put the county on the map, with the majority of the other 13 shortlisted finalists in the ‘South and South West’ category coming from Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset.

 “We’re very humbled to be based in Gloucestershire and be the sole representative for the county in these prestigious awards. Although, I was quite shocked to discover we were the only shortlisted business from Gloucestershire, as there’s so many prosperous family-run businesses in the region,” said David Pedrette, Managing Director of Target Catering Equipment.

The firm, which was founded in 1988 by David and his wife Elizabeth, who is the Financial Director, now has daughters Charlotte and Nicola working as General Manager and Marketing Manager respectively.

Target is widely known for its commercial induction ranges, which have been recognised as highly sustainable products by industry body CESA/FCSI and the Carbon Trust. Because of this, Target has helped to deliver thousands of pounds worth of Carbon Trust grant funding to its clients, which has assisted them in the purchasing of equipment.

Target also designs complete commercial kitchens including kitchen ventilation systems, in addition to assisting customers with overcoming difficult ventilation and equipment issues – which have caused contractual problems and require compliance with strict planning and DEFRA guidelines.

The People’s Choice Awards are organised by Family Business United, the award-winning magazine and resource centre that champions and celebrates the family business sector. 

Now in their seventh year, the awards recognise the diversity, strength and depth of family firms across the UK and seek to highlight the contribution that family firms make to the UK economy. Previous winners of the South and South West category include Thatchers Cider, Westons Cider, Brend Hotels and Hoburne Holiday Parks.

The overall winners will be announced at a glitzy awards ceremony at The May Fair Hotel, London, on Thursday, 6th June.

Share this article

Healthy Recipes with Christine Bailey

‘Algae’ doesn’t sound like the most appetising thing to add to your cooking, but chlorella, a type of fresh water algae, is appearing as an ingredient on the menus of some of the country’s leading healthy restaurants, such as Camilla Fayed’s Farmacy Kitchen. It’s also being recommended by leading nutritional chefs, who claim it not only adds a splash of vibrant colour to dishes, but a host of health benefits too, which could include everything from helping with muscle fatigue to reducing period pain.

Award winning functional nutritionist, chef and author Christine Bailey, who has over 14 health and recipe books to her name (including Go Lean Vegan, The Gut Health Diet, My Kids Can’t Eat That! And The Brain Boost Diet) shared some exciting ways to include chlorella in your cooking!

Super Berry Chia pudding

Packed with antioxidants and omega 3 fats this is a great anti-inflammatory recipe. Prepare the night before to allow the chia seeds to swell and thicken the pudding then blend in the morning for a speedy healthy breakfast.

Preparation time 5 minutes
Soaking time : overnight
Serves 2
 1 ripe banana
 100g blueberries
 250g raspberries
 250ml coconut milk
 6 tablespoons chia seeds
 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
 1tsp Sun Chlorella powder

To serve:
 60g raspberries
 Fresh berries to top

1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender and process briefly to combine. Pour the pudding into a jug or bowl and chill in the fridge overnight ready to serve in the morning.
2. Place the remaining raspberries in a blender and blitz to form a thick sauce – add a little water if needed to blend. For a smooth sauce you can pass it through a sieve
3. Spoon the chia pudding into glasses. Drizzle over a little sauce and top with a handful of fresh berries.

Broccoli, Fennel and Pear Soup

This is beautiful, light yet creamy tasting soup. Perfect for detox days. The addition of pear provides a natural sweetness to
this soup and is rich in pectin a soluble fibre to support bowel health.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 28 minutes
Serves: 2

 1tbsp olive oil
 1 small onion, chopped
 1 garlic clove
 150g broccoli, chopped
 1 fennel bulb, chopped
 600ml vegetable stock
 1 pear, cored and chopped
 1tsp Sun Chlorella powder
 Olive oil for drizzling

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes.
2. Add the broccoli and fennel and stir to coat in the oil. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Place the soup in a blender with the pear and chlorella powder and process until smooth and creamy.
3. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil

Superfood Truffles

These little chocolate nuggets are supercharged with chlorella to energise the body.

Makes: 16 truffles
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 4 hours

 115g cashew nut butter or tahini
 60g maple syrup
 2tbsp cacao powder
 60g melted dark chocolate
 60g dried cranberries or cherries
 Pinch of sea salt
 1tsp vanilla extract
 1tsp Sun Chlorella powder
 30g shelled hemp seeds

1. Place the cashew nut butter, maple syrup, cacao powder and melted chocolate in a food processor and combine. Add the remaining ingredients and process to form a dough. Chill in the fridge for several hours until firm enough to roll into balls.
2. When the mixture is firm use a spoon to scoop out walnut size balls. Roll into balls and place on a sheet of baking parchment. Roll the truffles in a little shredded coconut or dust with cacao powder.

Share this article

Savoury Pancakes Recipes from Merchant Gourmet

Quinoa pancakes with crispy bacon & maple syrup


To Serve

  • 8 – 12 rashers (depending on how hungry you are) streaky bacon
  • 250g cream cheese or ricotta (optional)


1. Warm the quinoa in your microwave. Get a medium sized bowl. Add the eggs, baking powder and cornflour. Whisk together until there are no lumps at all. Add the caster sugar, 50g melted butter, lime zest, vanilla extract and quinoa. Whisk together. Leave to sit for 1 hour.

2. Dip a piece of kitchen paper into melted butter then moisten the bottom of the pan. Get the pan hot over a medium heat.

3. Tip in a large serving spoonful of the mix to make pancakes of 8cm in diameter. In a 28cm pan I could comfortably do 4 pancakes at a time.

4. Cook the pancakes for 30-40 seconds each side until golden. Transfer them to a plate over a pot of simmering water if you want to keep them warm, or set them aside to reheat later. (A Microwave on low works well)

5. Fry the bacon until it is as cooked or crisp as you like it. Serve with the pancakes, maple syrup and cream cheese (if you fancy it)

Freekeh pancakes with maple bacon, avocado and sriracha



1.Begin with sifting your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, sugar – chuck in anything that refuses to be sifted!) and adding the Freekeh to a bowl & mix till combined

2.In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg. Combine both your wet and dry ingredients

3.Heat a frying pan, take off the heat and add a small nob of butter. Allow the butter to coat the whole pan. Whilst the pan is still off the heat, gently wipe off any excess fat

4.Return the pan to the heat and add drops of your batter to the pan. Flip when the pancakes begin to slightly bubble on the top

5.Whilst your pancakes are cooking, heat oil in a separate frying pan and begin to fry your bacon, as the bacon begins to turn crispy and golden, add a few tbsp. of maple syrup and cook for a further 3 minutes on a low heat

6.3Half your avocado, peel & scoop out. Plate 1 pancake per person, with half an avocado, maple bacon & a sriracha sauce

Share this article

What to Do this Valentine’s Day

Candles, wildflowers and cocktails infused with romance

Abuelo, London’s first Antipodean-meets-South American coffee house and kitchen located in the heart of Covent Garden, will be the perfect intimate spot to celebrate the occasion with your loved one. Complete with cushions, church candles and arranged with wildflowers, the kitchen will be serving beautifullypresented sharing plates and desserts, along with ‘his & her’ cocktails infused with romance. These will include a Dulche Fuego for him and a Pink Senorita for her.

Canapes and aphrodisiac cocktails in the subterranean, followed by dinner in the winter rooftop terrace

The Boundary Project on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch, will be helping couples celebrate love in a truly romantic landscape with a bespoke dining experience across its multi-tiered venue. Priced at £95.00 per person, the evening will start with canapes and aphrodisiac-based cocktails in the secret low lit subterranean space and bar, The Vault. This will then be followed by a candlelit four course dinner on the venue’s enchanting winter rooftop, where couples can enjoy panoramic views of East London. After dinner, guests can either head back down to The Vault for late night drinks or heat up with a hot cocktail, whilst being warmed by an open fire pit, pyramid patio heaters, blankets, sheepskin rugs and heated seats on the terrace.

Valentine’s day package with the best view of the city

Hotel Indigo – 1 Leicester Square, located at London’s most iconic address, will be offering the ultimate romantic Valentine’s Day package on its panoramic Rooftop Bar and Restaurant this February, evening of 14th, 15th and 16th. Couples will be able to dine and drink the night away, while overlooking one of the best views the city has to offer of the London skyline. A choice of cocktail will be offered on arrival from a bespoke Valentine’s Day menu, featuring Kiss of Passion [passion and mango juice, topped up with Prosecco]Flirtini [vodka, passion fruit juice, raspberry liqueur/ crème de cassis, vanilla syrup] and Pucker Up [bourbon, lime juice, simple syrup, bitters, ginger beer], followed by a delectable three course meal. For couples wanting to make their night extra special, can stay in one of the theatrical rooms at the hotel. Tickets are priced from £130 and can be purchased directly – here.

Dessert red station and aphrodisiac cocktails at the Varsity Hotel & Spa

The Varsity Hotel & Spa’s panoramic bar and brasserie, SIX, is upgrading each couple’s dining experience with a red dessert station, featuring an unlimited range of aphrodisiac filled treats, and cocktails. For just £15 per person, couples will be able to indulge in a variety of treats, whilst overlooking stunning views of Cambridge. These have been designed to be perfectly paired with a range of cocktails, priced at £8.50. Desserts include Champagne Soaked Red Strawberry CheesecakeRed Velvet Brownies, Red Berry Panna Cotta and Raspberry & Passion Fruit Tar, while cocktails include Hugs & Kisses Martini, Fifty Shades of Red, Russian Kiss and Cupid’s Arrow.

Share this article

Quinoa Pancakes Recipe from Merchant Gourmet


  • 250g Merchant Gourmet Dried British Quinoa
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 50g melted butter, plus 50g for cooking the pancakes
  • Grated zest of 1 medium sized lemon
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 20g cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs

For the mango sauce

  • 300ml orange juice
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 passion fruit
  • 1 small ripe mango, peeled and finely diced


1. Simply rinse the dried quinoa in a sieve under cold water using the ratio of one cup of quinoa to one and a half cups of water. Bring to the boil before covering and leave to gently simmer until all the water has been absorbed (approx. 15 mins)

2.Then start the pancake mixture. Get a medium sized bowl. Add the eggs, baking powder and cornflour. Whisk together until there are no lumps at all. Add the remaining ingredients including the slightly cooled quinoa then whisk together. Leave to sit.

3.To make the sauce, pour the juice into a medium sized pan. Add the sugar. Bring to the boil then simmer rapidly until it has reduced by two thirds (100ml) the sauce should be the same consistency as light maple syrup, as it cools it will be closer to the consistency of jam. Take the pan off the heat. Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop the seeds into the pan. Stir in the diced mango.

4.Dip a piece of kitchen paper into melted butter then moisten the bottom of the pan. Get the pan good and hot then turn it down to a medium heat. Pour in a serving spoonful of the mix to make pancakes of 8cm in diameter. In a 28cm pan I could comfortably do 4 pancakes at a time, if you don’t have a pan this large just do one or two at a time in a smaller pan.

5.Cook the pancakes for 30-40 seconds each side and transfer them to a plate over a pot of just simmering water if you want to keep them warm, or set them aside to reheat later. Serve the pancakes with the mango and passion fruit sauce.

Share this article

Visit Searcys St Pancras this Valentine’s

The poet John Betjeman once worried that St Pancras “was too beautiful and too romantic to survive”. Though the Victorian station has been through a turbulent history, his fears are now unjustified. With Europe at our fingertips, the romance of train travel has never been greater, making St Pancras the perfect destination for a Valentine’s Day dining experience.

Beneath the station’s stylish iron arches lies the famous lovers statue named ‘The Meeting Place,’ and Tracey Emin’s evocative artwork in bright pink neon: ‘I want my time with you’. As the last stop before a romantic trip to Paris, with the longest Champagne bar in Europe and a glamorous brasserie, Searcys St Pancras is fast becoming the ideal place to propose.

Valentine’s Day dinner and railway romance at St Pancras Brasserie

Go above and beyond the romantic score with the 1920s Art Deco style of St Pancras Brasserie. The intimacy of its private booths and vintage inspired old station clock hanging from the ceiling will set the tone for a perfect Valentine’s Dinner, Executive chef Colin Layfield has designed a special three-course menu of fresh, seasonal ingredients available on Valentine’s Day, 14th but also on 15th and 16th February.

Highlights include Gin cured Loch Duart salmon, oyster fritter, radish, cucumber and dill salad and Lake District beef, slow cooked oxtail, pressed potato, caramelised onion. Adding to the romance, William Curley’s artisan chocolates specially created for Searcys will finish off the dinner. The Brasserie’s Valentine’s menu include a glass of Searcys Cuvée Rosé Champagne on arrival for £49 per person, or Laurent Perrier Rosé Champagne for £58 per person.

The edible engagement ring box at St Pancras Champagne Bar

Searcys team will offer a helping hand in the proposal department, with a new edible engagement ring box to present to your loved one. The delicious turquoise ring box is created by luxury cake purveyors GC Couture in Mayfair. Covered in fondant icing of your chosen colour, the cake box can be ordered as little as three days in advance, under two different packages: £200 with two glasses of Searcys Cuvée Champagne, or £265 including two glasses of Searcys Cuvée Champagne and a selection of sharing delicacies.

Too soon to propose? Then the Champagne Bar Valentine’s offer, available exclusively on 14th, 15th and 16th February will set the tone for a perfect V Day date. Guests can share a selection of seasonal dishes with a bottle of Searcys Cuvée for £89.85 for two people. For a touch of pink, upgrade to a bottle of Searcys Cuvee Rose at £95 or a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Rose at £130.

Share this article

Whisky Evening at Matt Healy x The Foundry

Matt Healy x The Foundry is hosting an evening in celebration of Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey alongside Latitude Wines on Wednesday 6 March. Guests at the event will enjoy five specially-curated courses created by Matt Healy, matched with drinks pairings chosen by Chris Hill of Latitude Wines.

“We’ve worked alongside Latitude Wines to create a menu of Scottish and Irish-inspired dishes to perfectly complement a stunning selection of whiskies. While we’re curious to see which drinks our guests prefer, we’d like to think of the evening as a celebration of two glorious countries each with their own unique culinary heritage,” said Matt Healy, owner and head chef.

There will be four sittings on the night – 6pm, 6.45pm, 7.30pm, and 8.15pm. Tickets can be purchased directly from Latitude Wines on The Calls, LS2 7EB.

Share this article

Merchant Gourmet Creates the Perfect Pancakes

With Shrove Tuesday will (5th March) fast approaching, Merchant Gourmet has decided to get creative with their products. The creators of ready-to-eat pulses & grains, have a selection of delicious pancake recipes that are a great alternative to the average flour-based delight. Pancakes are a perfect way to increase your intake of pulses and grains as you can use quinoa or freekeh as a key ingredient. Who said pancakes had to be bad for you!

Quinoa and superseed pancakes with elderflower-poached blackberries


  • Half a 250g pouch of Merchant Gourmet Superseed Mix
  • 250g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 200ml milk
  • 50g melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the elderflower poached blackberries

  • 250g blackberries
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp of elderflower cordial


1. Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Take another bowl and whisk the eggs before adding the milk, butter and vanilla extract.

2.Add the Superseed Mix to the egg and milk mixture and then gradually whisk the wet mix into the flour and baking powder.

3.Leave to sit for 10 minutes whilst you make the poached blackberries.

4.Add the cordial, sugar and blackberries to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes.

5.Heat up a nonstick frying pan up and add a touch of neutral oil. Spoon in a ladle full of mix at a time to make small pancakes about 6cm in diameter.

6.Cook for about 3 minutes then flip over and cook on the other side.

7.Simply serve a couple of pancakes per person along with the poached blackberries.

Share this article