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All Posts By Cristina Diaconu

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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The Albert Inn in Caernarfon to Reopen

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

The Albert Inn, a local community pub in the Welsh town of Caernarfon, will be opening its doors this week, following a join investment of £140,000 between Admiral Taverns, the leading community pub group, and mother and daughter Elsa Roberts-Jones and Shannon Roberts-Simpson. The official launch party will take place on Friday, the 9th of February at 8pm.

Elsa and Shannon are experiences licensees who had been running pubs for many years before they took on the Albert Inn two years ago. They are locals of the area who have decided to re-establish the pub as a popular social hub, which used to be home to local pool and darts teams. It will also be offering regular sports showings and live entertainment at the weekends.

The work they underwent at the pub includes a refurbishment of its interior, creating an upbeat and exciting venue for the locals. A new food menu will also be introduced in March, which is the start of the busy tourist season in Caernarfon. The menu will include traditional pub dishes, such as homemade burgers, curry, lasagne, and fish and chips, as well as daily specials of Welsh delicacies like Cottage Pie and Lobsgows.

“The Albert Inn is a great pub in Caernarfon which is loved by our locals and visitors alike. The refurbishment has been a fantastic opportunity to make this great community pub all the more special and we can’t wait to launch our new food and drink offer for everyone to try,” said Elsa Roberts-Jones. “We’re looking forward to the opening night and welcoming back our regular customers and new faces to the pub.”

Sallyanne Sheil, Business Development Manager for Wales also commented on the news about the reopening of Albert Inn: “We have a fantastic team in Elsa and Shannon who are very well known in the area and have a wealth of experience in the industry. We have been delighted to support them to achieve the ambitions for the Albert.”

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La Belle Époque Launches Limited Edition Menu

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The 3 AA rosette winning restaurant at Sofitel London Heathrow, La Belle Époque, has launched a Seychelles inspired honeymoon limited edition menu to match British Airways’ March promotion when it moves its flights to the Seychelles to twice a week.

The Seychelles is a popular destination for honeymoon couples, being known as the most romantic island in the Indian Ocean. Sofitel London Heathrow is also very popular among honeymoon couples and now they have decided to create a menu influenced by the island’s local cuisine and the Indian Ocean. This way, couples can start their honeymoon experience even before arriving on the island.

Some of the new dishes include pan-fried halibut with curried coconut velouté and grilled Puntarella, roasted and smoked fillet of beef with miso glazed broccoli and pineapple roasted with pink peppercorn and coconut accompanied by kaffir lime sorbet and coconut marshmallow, and tuna loin with cucumber kimchi and dill.

“The menu features vibrant spices, exquisite fish and tropical fruits, all of which are popular produce in the beautiful Seychelles. We’ve added a French Asian twist to the menu, in keeping with the restaurant’s ethos which works really well with the produce,” explained Head Chef Mayur Nagarale.

He also said that this pre-holiday meal is the perfect start for a honeymoon and for those not heading to sunny places it is a chance to taste something more exotic.

La Belle Époque is the only 3 AA rosette winning restaurant in the Hounslow area. With warmly-lit booths, charcoal leather banquette seating and rich plum-coloured fabrics, the restaurant’s bold decor provides a contrasting atmosphere from the hustle and bustle of the airport. Guests have the option to hire a private dining space – Salon Privé – that can cater for 20 guests. In addition, the Chef’s Table, with a window view into the kitchen, can cater for up to 10 guests; both options are ideal for private and corporate functions.

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A New Pizzeria to Open in Clapham

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

An artisanal pizzeria is due to open this month in Clapham, London, following its success in Winchester. Pi was born in 2014 after first time restaurateur Rosie Whaley came back from a working holiday at a Florence pizzeria with a simple idea and a big dream. Now, after three successful years in Winchester, Pi is coming to South London in an 85 cover restaurant on Battersea Rise.

The top secret pizza dough recipe has been developed and perfected by a team of Italian chefs and it involves a 72 hour fermentation process that results into a light and lean base with airy crispy crusts. What makes Pi’s pizzas even more special is that it only uses the finest quality cheeses, meats, and vegetables, sourced from Italy or locally.

Pizzas are available wither as a standard size with the option for half and half, or as a 20 inch base to share with your friends. Some of the topping options include: Hampshire pork sausage, sliced desiree potatoes, garlic, thyme, caper crumb and nocellara olives; Lebanese spiced ground lamb with Turkish yogurt and fresh parsley; Old Winchester cauliflower cheese, chorizo, and spinach; and Wild boar salami, red chilli, and piquillo peppers. All pizzas can be upgraded with whole balls of Buffalo Mozzarella or Burrata Pugliese.

There are also sides available (cauliflower and Old Winchester arancini, garlic and thyme flatbread with olive tapenade, truffle ham with Pecorino) and a wine list that offers a wide selection of organic reds and whites. With a 25 seat bar area, PI will also welcome guests for after dinner drinks with its impressive cocktail list.

“It’s been three whirlwind years since we brought Pi to Winchester and I’m so excited to be opening a second site. Londoners have an insatiable passion for pizza and I hope we can bring a slice of something special to the table,” commented Rosie on the news of the opening.

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The Ten Finalists for School Chef of the Year Have Been Announced

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The ten chefs that will compete for the LACA School Chef of the Year 2018 national title on Thursday the 8th of March at Stratford upon Avon College in Warwickshire have just been revealed. They are Donna Spiers from East Midlands (Beeston, Nottingham), Michael Goulston from East of England (Stevenage, Hertfordshire), Michelle Creed from London (Romford, Havering), Abdul Mahdoul from North East & Scotland (Newcastle upon Tyne), Justyna Rutkowska from North West (Warrington), Ouafa Bahloul from South East (Carshalton, Surrey), Tracey Ford from South West (Gillingham, Dorset), Leanne Rees-Sheppard from Wales (Bridgend, Glamorgan), Tanya Malone from West Midlands (Southam, Warwickshire) and Amanda Phillips from Yorkshire & Humber (Doncaster).

The Competition has been organised annually for over two decades by LACA (Lead Association for Catering in Education), sponsored by MAGGI from Nestle Professional, and offering the chance for school chefs to showcase their professional skills. The champion of this year’s edition will receive a £1000 cash prize and will be awarded the LACA 2018 School Chef of the Year title and the trophy. Additionally, the winner will also receive a work experience trip, an invitation to a calendar of high profile catering industry engagements between 2018 and 2019, and a commemorative plaque. Second and Third places will get a cash prize of £500 and £300 respectively.

For the grand finale the chefs will have a maximum spend of £1.30 and just one and a half hours to prepare their dishes. Their aim is to produce a healthy two course meal, including a main course and a dessert, suitable for 11 year olds in school. The use of locally sourced ingredients and sustainable products will be well seen by the judges.

The Chair of the Judging Panel will be Justin Clarke, Food Development Chef for MAGGI at Nestle Professional. The other members of the panel will be a professional chef judge (tbc), a nutritionist ((Beth Hooper, Nutrition Manager, Nestle Professional), an education catering professional (Jacqui Webb, LACA), the 2017 LACA School Chef of the Year Tracy Healy, from West Yorkshire, and an 11 year old girl and boy from a Stratford upon Avon school. They will all look at the preparation, cooking, creativity, and presentation skills and decide which one deserves the title the most.

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Polo Bar and Jude’s Ice Cream Collaborate for Shrove Tuesday

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Special events on the calendars of all foodies (Pancake Day, Veganuary, Valentine’s Day etc.) make a lot of collaborations and new menus in some of the best restaurants around the country. With Veganuary coming to an end, the next most awaited food day is Pancake Day, for which a lot of restaurants and brands are preparing.

The latest collaboration made especially for Shrove Tuesday is between Polo Bar and the British premium ice cream brand, Jude’s. Together they have created three mouth-watering specials that will be available from the 3rd of February until the 13th of February.

The exclusive menu boosts in creative mixtures and delicious ingredients, such as the Red velvet & cherry ripple, which will cost £12. This dish unites red velvet pancakes with Jude’s Cherry Ripple ice cream, vanilla cream, and glace cherries, topped at the end with a slice of fresh red velvet cake. For those who want to enjoy a more comforting and familiar taste, there will be an Apple crumble & custard pancakes, selling at £10 and consisting of fluffy vanilla pancakes, Jude’s Custard Ice cream, Polo Bar’s homemade custard, and a piece of apple crumble. Those wishing to opt for something more exotic and less heavy for the stomach, there is a Tropical option for £10, which will mix fresh fruits and Jude’s Mango & Passion Fruit frozen yogurt.

Polo Bar is a 24-hour British café, situated on Bishopsgate, opposite Liverpool Street Station in the middle of The City. Owned by Phillip Inzani, a former Director at Ponti’s and designed by Mark Wilkie of The Narrative, Polo Bar channels the essence of London with banquette seating and tiled walls giving it an urban, almost London underground vibe.

Jude’s ice cream uses local dairy from Hampshire to make up their traditional crème anglaise base, flavoured with the best natural ingredients. Their brilliant small team of ice cream makers create innovative and delicious British ice cream for everyone’s taste buds.

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Young Chef of the Year competition to Start Again

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

M Restaurant and Bookatable by Michelin have announced that the second edition of the Young Chef of the Year is due to start soon. Talented young chefs will compete against one another for the title of Young Chef of the Year and the chance to host their own five day pop up at M RAW on Victoria Street.

To enter the competition, young chefs under the age of 29 have to submit a four course menu at £45 per head, together with the costings for 50 covers. Those with the best entries will then be asked to cook a dish for M Group Executive Chef Michael Reid and his guest judges in two rounds held in London and Manchester. After this, 20 finalists will be announced and invited to M RAW to cook in a series of pop up takeover nights from the 3rd until the 28th of July, where diners and judges will vote for their favourite.

“The Young Chef of the Year is not only a cooking competition,” said Michael Reid. “We mentor finalists on the business side of running a kitchen as well as marketing themselves and their menu – skills that are needed to create a successful career in the hospitality industry.”

M Restaurant owner Martin Williams, together with Group Executive Chef Michael Reid and leading chefs and personalities such as Adam Handling, Andy Lynes, Claudio Cardoso, Cyrus Todiwala, Daniel Watkins, Jose Pizarro, Michael Wignall, Richard Bainbridge, Selin Kiazim and Tom Kemble, will judge the entrants’ menu during the pop up nights.

The prize categories are Young Chef of the Year Winner, Young Chef of the Year Runner Up, Best Dish as voted by the judges, and Best Social Campaign as voted by Bookatable. Both the winner and the runner up will have the chance to a five day pop up residency each at M RAW, with the winner also receiving a trip to Champagne and a set of Kin Knives. Winners will be announced on the 31st of July at an awards ceremony.

Those wishing to register have time until the 30th of April and the forms can be submitted to

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The Future of the Hotel Industry Looks Optimistic

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A Hotel Confidence Report produced by NFU Mutual and the British Hospitality Association has shown that 81% of hotel businesses expect to increase or at least maintain the investment levels by 2020. The investments include property refurbishment and expansion (69%), marketing (53%), technology (53%), with mobile solutions, superfast broadband, and customer data for marketing and personalisation, and staff training (47%).

The report also found out that only 46% of businesses train their staff in cyber security and only 1% had taken cyber insurance, which is really important and could cover against financial losses and fines. Data security is also important for customers, with 48% of 18 to 24 year olds saying that payment and data security was taken into consideration when choosing a hotel.

Darren Seward, Hospitality Sector Specialist at NFU Mutual, said about this issue: “Technology brings obvious cyber risks alongside the opportunities, and with the introduction of GDPR rules this spring businesses need to be more responsible with how they gather or share valuable customer information than ever. The majority of businesses we spoke to claimed to take rudimentary measures to protect themselves from cyber-crime such as using anti-virus software and managing passwords, but the extent to which businesses have taken more complex and fundamental steps is more limited, despite data security being so important to customers.”

He advises that for the future, businesses should look into investing in a safe cyberspace first, and then consider advancing their technology and data. Hackers can attack whenever, and when they do, the customer data is at risk, together with the entire system and records. To prevent that, hoteliers should have the right insurance that will provide them with access to experts that will protect them from cyber risks and offer the right support if they do get hacked.

For this report over 2,000 consumers and 141 businesses in the hotel, hotel supply, and hospitality industries revealed their views on changes sought, cyber security, diversification, opportunities, technology, and many more. Overall, for 2018 consumers expect to spend more time in hotels.

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Chef Bryn Williams to Open a New Restaurant

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This spring, the celebrated Welsh chef Bryn Williams, will open his first London restaurant in a decade. Located in the renowned arts and cultural centre, Somerset House, the restaurant will offer modern British dining, serving seasonal dishes where fruits and vegetables will be at the centre of the plate.

The creative spirit of the community will be reflected in the food, service, and design. The menu’s focus will be on sustainability, provenance, and seasonality. The small plates include dishes such as Rainbow carrots, hand-dived scallop, sauteme, and Pickled mooli, black garlic, raw apple, sage, Cumbrian beef. Some of the seasonal mains are Roast young broccoli, olive tapenade, sage beignet, scorched Cornish mackerel, and Char-grilled leeks, Burke Brown egg, morel mushroom. Options ‘from the grill’ and salads will also be available.

“I’m a firm believer that a piece of fruit or veg should be treated with the same amount of care and respect as a cut of meat or fillet of fish – if not more. I’m thrilled to be opening a new restaurant that’s not only in a stunning location, but where fresh, locally sourced produce is the focus and fruit and veg take centre stage,” commented Bryn Williams.

The interior design will be overseen by Rosendale Design, which will bring together the Georgian architecture and the building’s naval history with Williams’ Welsh roots. There will be a colour theme of texture blue with nautical details such as wall lights made of Fresnel lenses from lighthouses and antique naval map drawers, mixed with Welsh-printed upholstery and brown leather banquettes.

In addition, the new venue will also feature a draught beer bar, the only one on the Somerset House premises. Both the bar and the restaurant will be open throughout the day for the community and the other visitors.

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New Cocktail Menu at Blind Spot

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Blind Spot at St Martins Lane hotel has launched this February a new cocktail menu inspired by locations from all over the world. ‘Spin the Globe’ offers a collection of 24 distinct serves that reflect the world’s different flavours, from New York City and Sydney to Mumbai, Kyoto, and Venice.

The creative cocktails have been designed by St Martins Lane’s General Bar Manager, Wilfried Rique, who inspired himself from the flavours, histories, and scents of iconic global destinations. For example, the serve inspired from Kyoto, Japan combines Nikka whisky from the barrel, rose water, yuzu juice, almond syrup, blackcurrant liqueur, and wasabi, while the one from Chichen Itza, Mexico, is a mix of Quiquiriqui mezcal, lime, tabasco, avocado, Worcestershire sauce, salt, peppers, and white grape juice.

The menu also features more local flavours, such as Dublin, Ireland that is a punchy combination of Jameson whiskey, Guinness reduction, apple compote, orange juice, salty solution, and Drambuie liqueur and also Taunton, England which combines Somerset brandy, pear juice, apple juice, cider, pimento liqueur and Abbott’s bitters.

Blind Spot has also paired the cocktails with nibbles from the same region, such as Empanadas de carne, Black cod dumplings with chilli soy dip, Lime jerk chicken wings, as well as sweet treats such as Paris New Orleans choux pastry with praline cream and cherry compote.

Blind Spot is hidden in the heart of Covent Garden, behind the façade of a boutique tea counter and a secret golden hand-shaped handle. The ‘Spin the Globe’ menu was made available starting with the 1st of February, offering guests a taste of a celebration of global culture. With this launch, the bar has reconfirmed its position as a frontrunner in London’s cocktail bar scene.

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