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All Posts By Cristina Diaconu

Blockchain to Revolutionise the Food Supply Chain

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Bureau Veritas has recently announced that consumers’ expectations of greater transparency from food manufacturers and suppliers will finally be met. Complete food traceability will be possible for the first time ever through blockchain technology, which will revolutionise the industry.

The UK Food Standards Agency investigated in 2016/17 2,265 cases of food contamination, up 30% than the previous year. Furthermore, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that approximately 1 in 10 people become ill every year because of contaminated food, which results in 420,000 deaths.

Bureau Veritas, the leading certification provider, is offering greater clarity to the issue with the launch of ‘Food traceability: The blockchain revolution’, which provides details about the current obstacles in food traceability, together with recommendations on how to overcome them by using disruptive technology.

Joy Franks, UK certification managing director at Bureau Veritas, said that “the issue is complexity”. “A single product may go through six to eight stages of a supply chain before it ends up on shelves, making end-to- end traceability using current methods such as sampling nigh on impossible to achieve.”

The paper explains that blockchain is a ledger where transactions are recorded and confirmed, acting as a record of events that is shared between many parties. For example, in a food supply chain if a product fails a test and an inspection the information will be automatically traced to the origin of the failure. This way, blockchain technology will be improving efficiency, eliminating duplication of reconciliation efforts and reducing the need for intermediaries.

“As a result, it can increase the reliability of information, making complete traceability possible without any single all-powerful actor, or the presence of an independent third party at every transaction – making it a quicker, cheaper and more efficient process,” said Joy.

She concludes by saying that in the future, blockchain will become an integral part of the food supply chain mix and it will “bring food traceability into a new era”.

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Celebrity Chefs Confirmed at the Eat & Drink Festival

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

The Eat & Drink Festival 2018 has confirmed six top names in the food and drink industry: Aldo Zilli, Dean Edwards, Monica Galetti, Olly Smith, Rosemary Shrager, and Theo Randall. The event that will take place from the 17th of March until the 2nd of April at Olympia London, will offer visitors the chance to see these professionals live on the Foodie Stage and The Drinks Station.

Their aim is to reawaken Britain’s love for cooking through their culinary skills, recipes, and specialist expertise. A survey conducted by Direct Line Home Insurance found that only 50% of people in the UK cook every day. This fact is due to the rise of online apps that make it quicker and easier to have the food delivered at home.

TV star and celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager will demonstrate quick versions of family classics, while top chef Aldo Zilli will present visitors seasonal fish recipes with an Italian touch from his home country. Monica Galetti, the star chef of BBC TV’s Masterchef: The Professionals, will talk about her experiences on the show and how to create fancy dishes at home. Dean Edwards, a favourite on ITV’s Lorraine, will cook nutritionally balanced meals, and the internationally renowned chef Theo Randall will cook some of his most delicious recipes.

For the drink section, Olly Smith, the wine expert on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, will talk about trends for 2018 and share his tips and tricks on how to pair food with the right beverages.

“We are pleased to announce our top team of renowned chefs, food experts as part of our line-up for 2018. It is a fantastic opportunity for the public to learn from the best and come face-to-face with some great personalities outside of the kitchen,” said Rob Nathan, Marketing Director for the Eat & Drink Festival.

The second edition of the festival will bring together artisan food producers, street food vendors, and top brands and experts in the international cuisines.

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New Concept to Fix the Leadership Crisis

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

EP business in Hospitality has launched its ‘Beyond the Model’ concept in response to the current leadership crisis in the UK. A series of challenging charitable walks are aiming to remove experienced and emerging leaders from their comfort zones and have more open and broader minds in better teams and better leaders.

“The real debate is how are we nurturing talent today? We know that one in four is reportedly suffering from stress or mental illness; we also know that only one in five employees trust their leadership, so it’s not a pretty picture. The psychology of the younger generation has also changed and there is a far greater fear of failure and far more stress, and tension, so there is good reason why new leaders are not emerging,” explains Chris Sheppardson, CEO and Founder at EP Business in Hospitality.

The concept behind the company’s ‘Beyond the Model’ focuses on the notion that people are tribal and want to belong and make a difference. During Victorian times, team sports were used to support ‘character building’, based on the assumption that lessons learned on the court or field would be transferable to other aspects of life. EP’s Charitable walks are designed to do exactly that – encourage people to participate in a physical challenge that will be fun, outside their comfort zone, while building memories and lasting friendships.

“We would love for experienced leaders and emerging leaders to join these special walks and to become immersed in different cultures, environments, conversations, experiences and learning skills which they can take back into their lives and businesses whilst doing more by supporting a good cause,” concluded Chris.

The future walks are: ‘The Way of the Gods Walk’, which is a walk from Bologna to Florence starting from the 18th of June and lasting for 7 nights; ‘The Grand Cru Walk’, a 7 nights walk from Dijon to Macon from the 18th of September; and ‘The Salzburg Lakes and Mountains’, which is a landscape walk in the Salzburg Salzkammergut Lake District for 7 nights starting with the 18th of October.

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Bookatable Announced London’s Top 50 Best Restaurants

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 4 m read

Bookatable has awarded Aqua Shard with the title of ‘Best Restaurant in London 2018’ during the Bookatable’s Diner Awards, which are in its fourth year. The Awards has also revealed the results of the Top 50 Best restaurants in London, based on customer reviews and ratings left on the company’s website.

Bookatable’s Diner Awards 2018 analysed over 150,000 verified diner reviews and ratings from the website and took into consideration several factors, including number of reviews submitted, star ratings and review content to determine the final list of winners. All reviews on the site are left by verified Bookatable diners, because only people who have dined at the restaurant can leave a review.

Apart from the Top 50 restaurants, there are other winners across 13 different categories, including Best Indian, Best British, Best Italian, Best Restaurant for Breakfast, Best Al Fresco, Best Restaurant for Afternoon Tea, Best Steak, Best Child-Friendly, Best Seafood, Best French and Best European.

“At Bookatable, we love great restaurants and are committed to offering our diners a wide choice of places to eat; from high street favourites and leading pubs to once-in-a-lifetime Michelin-starred restaurants,” said Michel Cassius, CEO of Bookatable.

“This year, we are pleased to add more award categories to reflect and celebrate the diversity that our diners are looking for. What makes the Bookatable Diner Awards special for the restaurant industry is that they are granted by the restaurant diners themselves, people who have enjoyed their dining experience and are keen to recommend the restaurants they love. We all know how much trusted reviews matter to everyone,” he added.

The full list of the winners at the Awards can be found below.

Top 50 Best Restaurants in London:

1. Aqua Shard (WINNER)
2. OXO Tower Restaurant
3. Joe Allen – Covent Garden
4. Hutong at The Shard
5. Kaspar’s at The Savoy
6. Covent Garden Fire & Stone
7. Boulevard Brasserie
8. Palm Court Brasserie
9. Winter Garden at The Landmark London Hotel
10. Planet Hollywood London
11. The Library at Marriott County Hall
12. Tredwells from Marcus Wareing
13. The Georgian Restaurant at Harrods
14. Oblix East
15. The Grill at The Dorchester
16. The Yacht London
17. Heliot Steak House
18. Mele e Pere
19. Tuttons
20. Roux at The Landau
21. Galvin La Chapelle
22. Homage Restaurant at The Waldorf Hilton
23. Hakkasan – Hanway Place
24. Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson
25. Searcys at the Gherkin
26. Asia de Cuba
27. M Threadneedle St
28. OXBO Bankside
29. The Goring Dining Room
30. Moro
31. Afternoon Tea at the Park Room
32. Benares
33. Cantina Laredo
34. The Terrace Grill and Bar at Le Méridien Piccadilly
35. Pescatori – Charlotte Street
36. R.S. Hispaniola
37. Kitchen W8
38. Marco Pierre White – London Steakhouse Co. – City
39. STK London
40. The Northall at Corinthia Hotel London
41. Caxton Grill
42. Roast
43. Ten Room at Hotel Café Royal
44. Crazy Bear – Fitzrovia
45. Cigalon
46. Palm Court at The Langham, London
47. M Victoria Street
48. Petrichor at The Cavendish London
49. Afternoon Tea at The Ritz
50. Fera at Claridge’s

Top 10 Best Indian Restaurants in London

1. Benares
2. The Cinnamon Club
3. Cinnamon Kitchen
4. Indian Essence
5. Tamasha
6. Gymkhana
7. The Quilon Restaurant
8. Trishna
9. Cinnamon Bazaar
10. Mint Leaf

Top 10 Best British Restaurants in London

1. OXO Tower Brasserie (WINNER)
2. Aqua Shard
3. The Ritz Restaurant – London
4. The Grill at The Dorchester
5. Athenaeum
6. OXO Tower Restaurant
7. Ten Room at Hotel Café Royal
8. Afternoon Tea at The Library Lounge
9. R.S. Hispaniola Restaurant and Bar
10. Tuttons

Top 10 Best Italian Restaurants in London

1. Mele e Pere (WINNER)
2. Massimo Restaurant
3. The Oval Restaurant at The Wellesley
4. Amaranto – Four Seasons London
5. Rotorino
6. A Cena
7. Theo Randall at the InterContinental
8. Caffe Caldesi
9. Bottega Prelibato
10. Getti – Jermyn Street

Top 10 Best Restaurants for Breakfast in London

1. Dalloway Terrace (WINNER)
2. Aqua Shard
3. OXO Tower Brasserie
4. Joe Allen – Covent Garden
5. Balans Soho Society – Soho
6. Greenberry Café
7. Tom’s Kitchen – Chelsea
8. Winter Garden at The Landmark London Hotel
9. Tuttons
10. London Cat Village
11. Top 10 Best Alfresco Restaurants in London

Top 10 Best Restaurants for Al Fresco in London

1. OXO Tower Brasserie (WINNER)
2. OXO Tower Restaurant
3. Tuttons
4. Dalloway Terrace
5. ‘Smiths’ of Smithfield, Top Floor
6. OXO Tower Bar
7. Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson
8. R.S. Hispaniola
9. The Yacht London
10. Tom’s Kitchen – St Katharine Docks

Top 10 Best Restaurants for Afternoon Tea in London

1. Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson (WINNER)
2. Afternoon Tea at the Park Room
3. Afternoon Tea at The Ritz
4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea
5. Afternoon Tea at The Waldorf Hilton
6. Afternoon Tea at The Goring
7. GONG – Shangri-La Hotel, The Shard
8. sketch – Gallery – Afternoon Tea
9. The English Tea Room at Brown’s Hotel
10. Afternoon Tea at The Capital

Top 10 Best Steak Restaurants in London
1. Heliot Steak House (WINNER)
2. Marco Pierre White – London Steakhouse Co. – City
3. STK London
4. Marco Pierre White – London Steakhouse Co. – Chelsea
5. Oblix West
6. Hawksmoor Seven Dials
7. Hawksmoor Air Street
8. Hawksmoor Knightsbridge
9. Barbecoa – St Paul’s
10. The Meat Co Westfield

Top 10 Best Child-Friendly Restaurants in London
1. Planet Hollywood London (WINNER)
2. Covent Garden Fire & Stone
3. OXO Tower Brasserie
4. Joe Allen – Covent Garden
5. OXO Tower Restaurant
6. Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson
7. London Cat Village
8. The Georgian Restaurant at Harrods
9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea
10. Tom’s Kitchen – Chelsea

Top 10 Best Seafood Restaurants in London
1. Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill (WINNER)
2. Pescatori – Charlotte Street
3. Fishworks – Swallow Street
4. Outlaw’s at The Capital
5. Fishworks – Marylebone
6. One-O-One
7. Angler
8. The Summerhouse
9. Wright Brothers Soho
10. Gow’s Restaurant

Top 10 Best French Restaurants in London
1. Roux at The Landau (WINNER)
2. Galvin La Chapelle
3. Cigalon
4. Galvin at Windows
5. Céleste at The Lanesborough
6. Rivea London
7. Galvin Bistrot de Luxe
8. Bleeding Heart Restaurant
9. Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
10. Pétrus – Gordon Ramsay Restaurants

Top 10 Best European Restaurants in London
1. Boulevard Brasserie (WINNER)
2. Palm Court Brasserie
3. Winter Garden at The Landmark London Hotel
4. Oblix East
5. Homage Restaurant at The Waldorf Hilton
6. Caxton Grill
7. Palm Court at The Langham, London
8. Quaglino’s
9. Menier Chocolate Factory
10. Melody at St Paul’s

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AC Group Named the Tour Operator of the Year

The UKInbound Awards for Excellence, held at the National Museum Wales in Cardiff, announced last night the winners of the Tour Operator of the Year title – AC Group. The Awards’ shortlist is selected from a panel of industry experts, before each of the 380 member companies of the trade association are invited to vote for their favourite.

“We are honoured to claim the title of UKInbound Tour Operator of the Year,” said Malcolm Lindop, Joint CEO of AC Group. “To win an award voted by our competitors and our partners reflects the passion our team has for the UK as a destination.”

The award was collected by Angela Heaton, Managing Director of AC Group, who said during the ceremony: “Our product team has worked tirelessly to build excellent relationships with our accommodation, transport and attraction providers, and our sales team seized the opportunity that record inbound visitor numbers provided, encouraging visitors to experience the diverse destinations the United Kingdom offers.”

“We’re delighted to take the trophy back to our office as a tribute to the strong year we’ve had, and serve as inspiration to keep growing the business,” commented Rob Russell, Joint CEO of AC Group.

AC Group managed to beat four other operators to the title and it adds to the team’s wonderful year, which has grown sales revenue by 69% year on year. The company also acquired its fourth brand, French Travel Partners, and opened offices in Paris, New York, and Kuwait. In January 2018, they announced the appointment of industry stalwart Angela Heaton as Managing Director, with Rob Russell and Malcolm Lindop promoted to joint CEOs.

An award-winning and long established wholesale tour operator, AC Group is a privately owned company that includes four distinct brands: AC Tours, which specialises in UK accommodation, transfers, entrances and meals for overseas visitors; AC Online, offering tourism product on a B2B basis to internationally-based wholesalers and tour operators; AC Luxe, a full-service DMC providing tailor made solutions to travellers across the UK, Ireland and France; and French Travel Partners, regarded as the leading inbound tour operator for France.

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Bite UK Launches Snacks for YO! Sushi

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Bite UK in collaboration with YO! Sushi will create an exclusive new snack range, which will be launched this month in more than 70 YO! Sushi restaurants across the country. The snack will be available for purchase at the takeaway convenience till-points, at the price of £1.50.

“We are very proud to be working with such a ground-breaking brand. We admire YO! Sushi’s creativity and pioneering spirit. At Bite UK we specialise in producing healthy snacks for UK consumers. Our technical team focus on great taste and bringing a quality product to market at a competitive price to retailers,” said Jason Bull, the founder of Yorkshire based Bite UK.

All snacking categories on the market are experiencing a double digit growth, especially grab and go snack packs which are at the top of it with a 26% growth, accounting for 10% of the market.

Bite UK, together with a product development team, has decided to look into the healthy snacking category and create products that are both healthy and bespoke for brands and businesses. The three snacks developed for YO! Sushi are available in the following options: Yo! Sushi Wasabi Peas 50g, YO! Sushi Chilli Rice Crackers 50g, and YO! Sushi Chilli Peanuts 50g.

Bite UK uses the very best quality ingredients sourced in small supply chains to ensure provenance. It is a sister company of Eurostar Commodities Ltd, a business dedicated to the development, manufacturing and retailing of innovative free from, healthy snack products that are low in calories and fat. Their snacks are also suitable for people with allergies, intolerances, and conditions such as coeliac disease. This opportunity gives Bite UK access to an unrivalled global sourcing network.

The Bite UK brands include Kintaro snacks and sushi rice, Spiffing organic flours and rice, and the new Pure Bite and Spiffing Sprouted range.

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New Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Manchester

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Arc Inspirations has just announced a £1.6 million investment into a second Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Manchester. The new venue located in the renowned financial and entertainment district, Spinningfields, is set to open this summer.

The new expansion stands at an impressive 7,000 square feet and it will accommodate 230 covers and create 50 full and part time jobs in the local area. With this acquisition, Arc Inspirations’ total number of Banyan Bar & Kitchen throughout the North of England is eight sites.

“Following the announcement last month that we are bringing our shamelessly glamourous Manahatta brand to Manchester, it felt only natural that we secured a second Banyan Bar & Kitchen. The success of our Corn Exchange venue and increased demand for the brand has meant we can branch Banyan across the North of England and beyond,” said Martin Wolstencroft, CEO of Arc Inspirations.

Guests are welcome to the premium bar seven days a week, with extended opening hours until 2am. The new venue’s sophisticated look will be designed by architects KPP in collaboration with reputable local designers No Chintz.

“We’ve worked with contemporary designers No Chintz who are elevating and reforming the Banyan brand to take it to the next level. Guests will see a real difference compared with Corn Exchange, and we know Banyan is going to ooze sophistication and be a fantastic addition to the vibrant Spinningfields area,” added Martin.

The Yorkshire based premium operator has had a momentous 12 months, which has seen the announcement of its first Manahatta site in Deansgate, an opening in Ilkley that exceeded all expectations, and a record financial result.

“Our rapid expansion within Manchester continues to reinforce our reputation and position as pioneers of innovating drinking and dining experiences in the North of England. We’re set for a phenomenal year of growth, and we can’t wait to show the city of Manchester and beyond what we do best – no one does it better,” concluded Martin.

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New Vegan Chocolate from Benefit

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Lovely Fodder Ltd, a family owned UK company, is launching a range of vegan chocolates called Benefit Chocolate, following its success in 2017 with the Benefit Drinks, a range of vitamin enriched vegetable and fruit juices, and Benefit Shakes, dairy free shakes made with almond milk. The new bars of chocolate will combine the best ingredients, being functional and indulgent at the same time.

The chocolate is sourced directly from the CasaLuker Estate in Colombia, with Colombia known as the country with the best ‘Fino de Aroma’ Cacao beans in the world. The Benefit Dark Chocolate range avoids milk solids and is entirely vegan, due to the quality of the cacao.

Other benefits added to the chocolate bars include protein, which is enriched with almond butter, coconut, and pea protein, contributing to the maintenance of normal bones and muscle mass; vitamins that offer 50% of the recommended daily intake of 12 vitamins, contributing to the normal function of the immune system; and energy delivered by three key B vitamins – B5, B6, and B12.

What make these bars special is the quality and the amount of cacao in them, standing at 85% compared to 54%, which is the market average. Cacao is known for its number of natural health benefits, including high levels of antioxidants, high levels of flavanols, and fibre.

“We’re really excited to bring another innovative product to market to sit alongside our Benefit Shakes and Drinks and see a great opportunity in delivering functionality, aligned with high grade cacao products. The beauty is that whilst also being suitable for consumers actively seeking ‘better for you’ products, the overriding quality of the raw materials means the range appeals to chocolate lovers looking for great taste too,” said Gavin Cox, founder of the Benefit brand.

The 40g bars are available in cases of 15 with an RSP of £1.75 each.

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Tom’s Kitchen to relaunch this spring

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Tom Aikens, the acclaimed British chef, has announced the relaunch of his Tom’s Kitchen restaurant in Chelsea this spring. Extensive refurbishment will be done by B3 Designers and Tom will also be introducing a new menu offering seasonal British small plates. The restaurant will be closed between the 12th of February and the 20th of March.

The new menu will be perfect for sharing with friends and family and it will use some of Britain’s finest seasonal produce, such as mushrooms, asparagus, rhubarb, and game birds. Small plates include Beef tartare with black garlic aioli, new season turnips and puffed rice and Salt baked heritage carrots, strained yoghurt and carrot top pesto, while larger sharing dishes include Scallops with Fruit Pig black pudding and peas and Spatchcock Norfolk quail with peanut sauce and pickled sweet cucumber relish. Classic dishes such as Fish pie with cider, leeks and parsley crumb, Chicken schnitzel with violet artichoke salad and parmesan, and Seven-hour slow cooked shoulder of lamb with mashed potato and balsamic onions will also be available for those looking for comfort food.

Located in a beautiful Chelsea townhouse, the refurbishment will make the bar the focal point of the restaurant for both counter dining and drinks and it will also introduce window seating. The dining rooms at the ground and first floor will be revitalised with the introduction of luxurious upholstery and a richer, darker colour scheme, bringing warmth and coziness to the space and contrasting to the signature white tile finish and wooden panelling. The third floor will feature two rooms for private dining and intimate events.

Tom Aikens said about the relaunch that “the redesigned space and new menus will allow the restaurant to be more innovative, modern and comfortable”. Its dedication to using UK-based suppliers and local producers will be emphasised in the new menu and in the new space. Photographs telling the story of the seasonal, local, and ethically sourced ingredients will be displayed, while an open pass will allow interaction between the kitchen and the dining room.

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Meat-free Feast at Fiume

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

The new contemporary Italian restaurant, Fiume, will be hosting in collaboration with Chef Patron Francesco Mazzei and guest chef Nina Parker of NINA, a meat-free supper club on the 22nd of February. The reunion between Francesco and Nina, who used to work together when Nina was a young chef learning in his kitchen, will see a feast of recipes based on each other’s books.

The menu will include a delicious selection of cicchetti – Aubergine croquettes, Wild mushroom pinsa, Grana Padano and truffle doughnuts – followed by the seasonal starter Burrata and radicchio. The main course will reflect Francesco and Nina’s passion for the Italian cookery, and guests will indulge in a Ricotta and spinach dumplings with pizzaiola. A wonderful variety of desserts will complete the feast, with Vegan chocolate cake, Amalfi lemon sgroppino, and Ricotta and pear tarta, presented to the table. Guests will also be able to complement their dishes with a selection of cocktails such as Negroni Del Mazzei with Tanqueray gin, Rosolio, Cocchi Americano and olives, and the Nina Mimosa with mandarin and bergamot.

The Italian meat-free feast will start at 7om on the 22nd of February and tickets are available for purchase at, priced at £40 per person.

Fiume was opened in November 2017 by Francesco Mazzei and it is a new modern Italian restaurant located at Battersea Power Station development. The name comes from the Italian word for ‘river’ which reflects its location on the bank of the Thames. People who wish to enjoy a meal there will be welcomed by stunning views over the river and a large pizza style terrace to enjoy Francesco’s recipes.

A London-based chef, Nina Parker is also a writer and the director of her own food company, NINA. She wrote two cookbooks, ‘Nina St Tropez’ and ‘Nina Capri’, which explore the cuisine of each region. Nina is now a private caterer who also creates daily recipes and restaurant recommendation on her Instagram page.

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