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Sainsbury’s is supporting the deaf and hard of hearing community this weekend (18-21 July) by launching the world’s first signing store, as part of its 150 Days of Community initiative

Sainsbury’s Bath Superstore has been renamed Signsbury’s and is kitted out with visual guides and screens to help customers sign with Sainsbury’s colleagues

Colleagues have been taught key words and phrases in British Sign Language (BSL) by local school ‘I Can Sign’ – supported by Sam Book, a Sainsbury’s colleague who is deaf and Rachel Shenton, The Academy Award-winning actress who famously signed her 2018 acceptance speech

Helpful video guides that demonstrate how to sign key words and phrases have been shared with Sainsbury’s colleagues across the UK

Sainsbury’s has today unveiled the UK’s first signing store in Bath, as part of its 150 Days of Community initiative.

The iconic sign above the superstore’s door changed to Signsbury’s overnight, in a move to celebrate community inclusivity and encourage all colleagues and customers to sign with one another.

This follows over a hundred colleagues in the store taking part in British Sign Language (BSL) lessons, delivered by local signing school I Can Sign. The lessons were supported by a colleague who is deaf, Sam Book and Rachel Shenton, the Oscar winning screenwriter who famously signed her 2018 acceptance speech.

Signsbury’s will be open for four days from the 18 – 21 July and will see colleagues sign several common words and phrases when interacting with customers – from greeting them at the door, asking if they have a Nectar Card to even discussing the weather. 

Elsewhere in the store, helpful screens have also been installed which demonstrate how to sign different words and phrases, including ‘milk’, ‘trolley’ and ‘bananas’, with the hope to encourage customers to get involved in the initiative and walk away from store with some newly learned phrases in sign language.

What’s more, children will be able to Sign for a Snack: upon mastering how to sign basic words, they will be given a free fruit snack.

The move comes as part of Sainsbury’s 150 Days of Community scheme, launched as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations. The initiative sees its 185,000 colleagues across the UK given the opportunity to volunteer for a cause they feel passionately about in their local community.

When store manager Paul Robertson and his team, including deaf colleague Sam Book, heard about the initiative, they suggested making the Bath store more deaf-friendly to help the deaf and hard of hearing community – and so Signsbury’s was born.

It is estimated that around 11 million people in the UK live with hearing loss– approximately 35,000 of whom live in Bath*. It is hoped that this initiative will help to encourage better communication with those who are hard of hearing by creating a supportive environment for both colleagues and the local community.

Sainsbury’s has long been committed to being the most inclusive retailer and helping to support all colleagues and customers in their shopping experience. Three years ago the retailer launched the 2016 film ‘Life Doesn’t Come Without Subtitles’ to teach colleagues and the public how to sign.

Tim Fallowfield, Company Secretary & Corporate Services Director for Sainsbury’s, is Board Sponsor for Disability and Carers across Sainsbury’s and Argos. He said:

“We’re really excited to be launching this Signsbury’s initiative at our store in Bath. We want to be the most inclusive retailer where people love to work and shop and it’s really important to us that we support both customers and colleagues with hearing difficulties to feel as comfortable as possible in our stores wherever we can.

“We’re really proud of Paul and the team at Bath who thought up this wonderful idea as part of our 150 Days of Community celebrations.”

Paul Robertson, Store Manager, at Sainsbury’s said:

When I heard about our 150 Days of Community scheme, I thought it was the perfect time to use the opportunity to explore new ways to make our store more deaf-friendly. We have many hard of hearing customers in Bath and always want to make their experience as brilliant as possible, and we hope Signsbury’s will help better their time in store even more.”

Rachel Shenton, ambassador of National Deaf Children’s Society said “This is a fantastic initiative to be involved in. It’s been brilliant to see the colleagues of Sainsbury’s be so engaged in the idea and it’s a great step towards inclusivity for the deaf community. This feels like the start of something exciting and I hope it encourages more people to get involved”.

The public and Sainsbury’s colleagues from across the country can get involved by learning key phrases used by Rachel Shenton and Sainsbury’s colleague Sam Book in a series of helpful videos, which can be viewed here The training is a skill for life that colleagues can use in everyday life.

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Pasta Remoli is Opening in Wembley Park this August

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Simone Remoli, Chef and Founder of Pasta Remoli together with co-founders Francesca Tarquini and Stefano Anfussi will be opening a new restaurant in Wembley Park, making it the fourth Pasta Remoli for the popular London-based casual dining fresh pasta group.

The new site just steps away from Wembley Stadium will offer guests the high quality, homemade pasta in a fast-casual environment that Pasta Remoli customers enjoy so much.

“What a location! We are right next to the iconic Wembley Stadium which means that concert days and football matches will attract thousands of people to our site.  We are thrilled to be part of the substantial revitalisation of the area and are surrounded by great bars, shops and restaurants so we’re in fantastic company.”

The beautiful, new, glass-fronted site is 100sqm inside, seating 50, and has an outside seating area of 75sqm.

The stylish contemporary interior of the new Pasta Remoli Wembley Park is designed for local residents, businesspeople, students, concert goers and football fans to eat great food quickly and comfortably with facilities for take-out and delivery.

The casual dining group offers homemade, traditional pasta dishes in a quick, affordable and authentic way, based on its unique concept where diners can choose their pasta, choose their sauce and then choose their cheese. Inspired by a love for authentic Italian ingredients, Pasta Remoli, often described as serving some of the best pasta dishes in London, will also offer a weekly-changing seasonal special, homemade breads, cakes and desserts.

Simone Remoli has said that the new opening is the next stage in the development of the Pasta Remoli brand and offering.  “We are gearing up for strong but gradual growth over the next five years, within London, and potentially elsewhere in the UK,” says Remoli.

“What’s important for us is that we maintain a quality experience for our diners, and that we stay true to our ethos – authenticity, quality, and very much doing things our way.  It is very important for us that we control our growth plans without having to compromise in order to meet expectations of outside investors,” continues Remoli.

Pasta Remoli currently has locations in Finsbury Park in North London, Westfield Stratford in East London and Ealing in West London.

Pasta Remoli Wembley Park

Unit 12

10 Exhibition Way

Ground Floor



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One year on: Employees at M Restaurants report positive change since the introduction of the M-indful Days initiative

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75% of staff have seen a marked improvement to their well-being since the M-indful Days Initiative was implemented

83% of staff also reported that they are more productive at work thanks to the additional M-indful Days holiday allowance

In July 2018, M Restaurant’s Operations Director, Andre Mannini, was determined to improve mental wellbeing within the company and help counterbalance the industry wide recruitment issues by introducing a revolutionary M-indful Days initiative. One year on and the scheme, which gifts all full-time employees four fully paid additional days of holiday allowance amongst other benefits, has been an overwhelming success with staff reporting that they are more productive at work and have noticed a marked improvement to their general well-being.

Employees have been encouraged to take their M-indful Days wherever they see fit, be that an unplanned recovery day following a big night out, a spontaneous duvet day or a day when they just can’t get out of bed in the morning. One of the only requirements is that on one of the days, it is compulsory for all staff to receive a complimentary massage at their home from Urban Massage.

Managers have found the flexibility of the days has eradicated the environment of guilt and resentment from both sides and means that staff no longer feel the need to take false sick days. Also, for employees who haven’t used all their additional allowance, they have received the monetary value instead. Additional benefits to staff include free and unlimited access to Spill, a remote and anonymous counselling app and a raise in M’s starting wage to £10 per hour across the board.

Speaking about the positive impact the initiative has had on the M team, Andre said: “I am delighted to see how well the M-indful Days and our adoption of Spill have been received by the team. At this crucial time in our sector, having engaged teams as well as nurturing and retaining talent is vital. We are extremely proud to be pioneering the way towards a different and more modern hospitality industry.”

Please see below testimonials from a selection of M employees:

Magda Koch, Finance Manager, said: “The idea of M-indful Days helps us take a step back in the most stressful time, take a breath and approach problems from a fresh perspective. I personally take M-indful Days after the end of the month on Fridays, making a weekend a little bit longer and allowing me to charge the batteries and start a new month with lots of energy and positivity. It’s very important to communicate our wellbeing with bosses, team members and co-workers. M-indful Days give everyone the opportunity to show co-workers you’re overwhelmed, even if we can’t or don’t want to

talk about it. I really believe it’s a huge step to change hospitality from a stressful, mentally and physically abusing environment, to a place where people care about each other, their wellbeing and have a strong work-life balance.”

Gabriele Semino, Runner, said: “I want to thank M for my additional M-indful Days. I took one when my aunty and cousin came to London unannounced which meant I had no notice period to take holiday and otherwise couldn’t guarantee I would see them. It was great to be able to take the weekend off last minute and spend time with my family as I have no family in London and miss them a lot. Also, with only three runners on the floor and working a lot, it was nice to take an extra day’s rest to recover and my girlfriend was happy to spend a day with me too!”

Branka Vuskovic, Group Head of Events, said: “I find the M-indful Days are such a great benefit for our mental health. You really feel the benefit knowing that at any time you can take a break from the busy and fast paced environment, or for any other reason, with no questions asked. It assists in having a little break to reenergise and come back to work feeling positive, happy, motivated and balanced.”

Megan Inglis, Events Manager, said: “My personal feedback on the M-indful Days is that they are a great perk of working for M Restaurants. I have taken two so far and they have really helped. One was used to go to A&E when I didn’t want to take a sick day and one was used when I moved to a new house and I needed to sort out my travel and goods etc. I personally suffer from a lot of anxiety and it is great to know that if I have a day when I am not feeling well, I have an option to take the day and re-gather my mental state in a healthy way. My partner and friends have said that they wished they had this perk at their workplace as it is much needed.”

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First glimpse inside The Wensleydale Hotel

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First glimpse photography has been released from inside a newly refurbished boutique hotel in Middleham.

A renowned Franco-Belge hotelier and his Yorkshire wife officially opened the doors to the Wensleydale Hotel last month, after upgrading some of the public areas in phase one of the renovations.

Hospitality expert and former general manager at the Feversham Arms, Charles Merchie, and his wife Fiona, purchased The White Swan, Middleham, earlier this year and renamed it The Wensleydale Hotel, a name previously associated with part of the hotel.

Charles said: “I am delighted to be in the gorgeous Yorkshire Dales and myself and Fiona are really looking forward to driving The Wensleydale forward with our two boys helping out when they can.

“With the first phase of the upgrade now complete, we are thoroughly enjoying welcoming guests to enjoy a tipple in the bar before dinner in the restaurant or a peaceful overnight break in the stunning Dales.”

Merchie brings a wealth of expertise with him to the hotel, which is set to continue with renovations over the coming months, to elevate it to a gorgeous boutique hotel for local residents and guests from further afield to enjoy.

The Wensleydale Hotel is a truly family run affair with Charles and Fiona leading the day-to-day running of the hotel and their two sons, Monty and Hugo, working on the bar, in The Tack Room restaurant and the kitchen during university holidays. A previous colleague and good friend of Charles, Rui Barradas, has been appointed as Resident Manager, along with his wife Vera, who is overseeing front of house.

Fiona said: “I am most looking forward to a long, warm summer hosting guests on our beautiful south-facing terrace, and watching the racehorses trotting past to exercise on the Middleham Moor. We will be offering relaxed, al fresco dining with a menu featuring dishes inspired by our favourite European countries where we have lived or travelled – perfect for coffee, a light bite at lunch or foodie catch up with friends in the evenings.”

Charles concluded: “I’m incredibly proud to be working with my wife and our boys on this exciting new venture. It’s fantastic to settle in and transform our beautiful hotel and restaurant into a go-to destination. We’ve had a very warm welcome from our neighbours, so here’s to a very successful year ahead!”

Phase two of the upgrade will begin over autumn and winter this year. This will include exciting changes to add value to the guest experience.

For more information, please visit the website

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Absolute Taste Inflight Extends Partnership with The Aviation Nutritionist

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Absolute Taste Inflight, the private jet catering division of leading event design company, Absolute Taste, is continuing to target growth in the in-flight catering and concierge services market with the extension of their successful partnership with Sarah Anderson – The Aviation Nutritionist – and the launch of a new website.

Absolute Taste Inflight have been providing private jet catering and concierge services to executive jets since 2003 and now have kitchens in Oxfordshire, Geneva and Farnborough, extending their unrivalled menus and service.

To further enhance the executive jet experience, Absolute Taste Inflight previously partnered with The Aviation Nutritionist to develop new menus which take in to account the multiple challenges travellers face at altitude including dehydration, difficulty in digesting food, fatigue, loss of mental acuity and fluctuations in mood.

The extension comes with exciting new plans to further enhance the offer, including; Crew Meals and Platters – featuring some of The Aviation Nutritionist’s favourites. All the menus and dishes focus on foods which are organic, dairy-free, gluten-free and rich in antioxidants –whilst avoiding refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol – without compromising on Absolute Taste Inflight’s emphasis on taste, freshness, quality and outstanding service.

Alexandra Evans, General Manager at Absolute Taste Inflight, comments: “We never compromise on the quality of our food working with the best produce we can find, working closely with our suppliers we love to create seasonal menus to reflect this as well as ensuring that we are competing with some of the best restaurants around the world.

“We know the impact that altitude has on our bodies so we are delighted to be continuing, and expanding, our partnership with Sarah Anderson – The Aviation Nutritionist to produce dishes that use appropriate and balanced nutrition specifically designed to lessen the negative effects of flying, our aim is that once our travellers land, they will feel their best and be able to maintain peak performance.”

In addition to the new partnership with The Aviation Nutritionist, Absolute Taste Inflight has launched a new menu, featuring new exciting dishes including a dedicated plant-based section.

The launch of the new menu accompanies a new website ( which allows crews to quickly order their catering direct to the Inflight London Team. The site has further exciting additions to follow in the coming months, including Traveller Tips – outlining the best places to shop, eat and stay in certain locations around the world.

Gary Kennerley, Managing Director of Absolute Taste, adds: “We are seeing a rapid increase in demand for in-flight catering and concierge services as well as the need for a detailed bespoke offer, so we are expanding our offering to capitalise on this growth. We are all about producing the most delicious food and service as well as making life simple for pilots, flight attendants and their passengers.”

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The magnificent five-star Grande Dame hotel, The Landmark London, is marking its 120th anniversary by unveiling a multi-million pound refurbishment of its 291 rooms and selected suites, providing a luxury guest experience and an oasis of serenity in the heart of the capital.

One of the oldest railway hotels in London, The Landmark London was born in the romantic era of train travel. Its refurbishment combines the opulence and grandeur of those times with contemporary flair and five-star amenities.

Alex Kravetz Design was appointed to carry out the refurbishment of 291 of the hotel’s 300 rooms and suites, which are some of the largest in the Capital and offer sumptuous comfort. Commencing in January 2017, the refurbishment has taken just over two and a half years, completing just in time for the 120th anniversary.

Each of the redesigned, luxurious guest rooms feature new beds and furnishings, including carpets, curtains, case goods and bedside lights, along with a 49-55-inch Smart TV with Sky, telephones and upgraded complimentary Wi-Fi, to ensure fast and efficient

connectivity. The bathrooms have also been installed with Italian marble to capture the hotel’s all-encompassing classic style and grandeur.

The refurbishment of the rooms complements the recent design changes to the spa, restaurants and bar, event spaces and the Atrium, with the entire guest experience placed at the heart of the hotel.

This latest design builds on the hotel’s history and heritage to celebrate the iconic building. The aesthetic utilises an elegant colour palette, old limestone floors have been renovated, the stone and oak panelling in the main lobby has been rejuvenated and walls and ceilings in the two main ballrooms were repainted to preserve the 1900 ornate architecture and reflect the hotel’s timelessness.

Andrew Batchelor, says “We have refurbished the hotel rooms and some public areas  to enhance the luxurious guest experience. The hotel remains true to its historical roots;  we’ve made fine adjustments to maintain the unique identity that is key to The Landmark London brand.”

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Partridges Celebrate 25 years as a Royal Warrant holder to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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Partridges Celebrate 25 years as a Royal Warrant holder to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and launches Tea & Biscuits from The Royal Collection.

Partridges, the world-renowned and independent family-run food store founded in 1972 in Sloane Square, this year celebrates 25 years since being granted the Royal Warrant as Grocers to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. It is proud to be one of the few selected retailers stocking 7 ranges of quintessentially British teas and biscuits, made in the UK, from The Royal Collection.  

Each range of Royal tea-time treats consists of collectable tins, tubes and caddies with Royal heritage designs which make beautiful, affordable and delicious presents for friends and family as well as appealing to overseas visitors looking for gifts and souvenirs to take home.

John Shepherd, owner and Managing Director of Partridges, was President of the Royal Warrant Holders Association in 2008. John says… “Today, firms that hold the Royal Warrant include grocers like Partridges, wine merchants, chemists, plumbers, mole catchers and dressmakers. The distinguishing feature, no matter the size of the company, is to provide the highest standards of service. Many of them are family businesses, like ours, going back several generations and who form the fabric of this trading nation. We feel honoured to have held a Royal Warrant for 25 years.”

The Royal Collection is available in Partridges two central London stores and online at:


Everyday 8am – 10pm 

The Café – Everyday 8am – 7pm

Shop Online –

FREE Local Delivery Available – T&C’s Apply

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Soho Prepares for Paradise This Autumn

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New Sri Lankan restaurant arrives on Rupert Street

This autumn a bold new dining concept will reinvent Sri Lankan cuisine on the streets of Soho. Paradise will put a progressive twist on authentic street food, embracing all the flavours, spices and warmth of the Teardrop island in a stripped back, brutalist setting.

Located on the legendary Rupert Street strip, Paradise will be the first solo project from Dom Fernando, a young dynamic restaurateur on a mission to bring the food of his family’s homeland to London. Dom was inspired by his annual childhood trips to Sri Lanka, observing everything from his relatives’ home-grown cooking techniques and treasured recipes to their warm, inclusive eating culture. 

Chef Charith Priyadarshana revamped classics will draw their eclectic flavour combinations from the nation’s many diverse regions, taking cues from Portuguese, Malay, South Indian and Dutch cuisines. With an emphasis on seasonality and sustainability, the menu will merge British and Sri Lankan ingredients prepared with modern panache.  Seafood will be procured directly from British day boats, along with free-range chicken from Woodman’s Farm in Pilmoor, York, and pork from Barbara Davis at Longridge Farm.

Signature dishes will include street food staples such as hoppers and kothu roti, mutton rolls with curry powder and fermented chilli sauce and richly spiced curries such as slow roasted pork cheek curry, aubergine moju, jackfruit biriyani, and cabbage mallum.  A distinctive take on a largely undiscovered cuisine in London, the menu will be remarkably different, and reflecting the country itself, will be curated to offer a true culinary exploration of one of South Asia’s most vibrant states.

The ingredient-focused ethos underpinning Paradise will spill over in to their house batched cocktail menu which will feature drinks such as the Arrack-O-Lada, conjuring the flavour and textures of coconut cream and arrack, served with a burnt jackfruit and pineapple syrup, as well as new interpretations of the classics, such as a Tamarind Chilli Martini. The carefully selected wine list will focus on small biodynamic and organic growers, regional styles and modern vintage wines. 

Dom has teamed up with leading East London interior specialists Dan Preston (whose previous credits include KILN and Smoking Goat) to create an intimate, warm yet raw space.  Inspired by the chic bistros in Colombo and Galle, Dom wanted a space that celebrates music, art and design. Paradise will have a truly non-conformist look and feel, with artisanal furniture, foliage and crafts blended seamlessly with industrial elements such as unpolished cement and aged metal detailing, to create an informal, minimalist yet inviting space.  

With a modern, uncluttered blend of Eastern and Western design coupled with a daring, forward-thinking re-interpretation of Sri Lankan fare, Paradise will be a welcome island to escape to from the busy streets of Soho.

Address: 61 Rupert St, Soho, London W1D 7PW

Instagram: @paradisesoho 

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The world’s first Cadbury Dairy Milk 3D printer

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From 3P to 3D! 3P’s innovative technology helps launch the world’s first Cadbury Dairy Milk 3D printer. 

Exciting news for all chocoholics! Launched to coincide with World Chocolate Day, chocolate fans are now able to enjoy 3D printed, customisable Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate as a result of a collaboration between 3P Innovation Ltd and Mondelez International, proud custodians of the Cadbury brand. 

The first-of-its-kind prototype machine has been installed at the famous Myer department store in Chadstone, Melbourne, Australia. Available for four weeks only, from 7 to 28 July, Melburnians can get their hands on a selection of extra-special milk chocolate charms, from novel shapes to Australian symbols such as kangaroos and flip-flops. They are produced using a brand new, innovative 3D printing machine designed and manufactured by 3P, a leading custom engineering and automation house based in Warwick, UK. 

3P worked closely with Mondelez to develop a completely new and different method to manufacture Cadbury Dairy Milk. The multi-lane technology provides the opportunity to print an endless range of different chocolate shapes and sizes, without using the traditional moulding process, or the need to invest in expensive capital equipment. 

“Confectionery printing presents many challenges, such as scalability to enable mass-production and chocolate design limitations”, explains Nim Mistry, Project Manager at Mondelez. 

“In addition, prior advances made in 3D chocolate printing have failed to address one of the most critical aspects of quality for chocolate manufacture: chocolate tempering. We worked closely with 3P to design and develop a highly-innovative solution which tightly controls the conditions of the chocolate throughout the manufacturing process,” Ms Mistry explained. 

“This innovative solution was essential in ensuring a smooth, evenly-coloured chocolate and satisfying snap when you bite into it. It means customers can enjoy the same high-quality Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate they love in a fun and personalisable format.”What started as a ‘Test and Learn’ project has resulted in a successful prototype that is producing great quality products.”

3P developed the machine from an initial concept idea on paper to a fully-functional, high-quality prototype being show-cased to the consumer. It demanded top quality build and reliable, consistent performance as soon as it reached the store. 

A user-friendly operating screen allows for immediate, low-cost changeovers between products, meaning that lower-volume batches can easily be produced; for example to celebrate ‘one-off’ major national events or to provide highly-personalised gifts. Designs for new chocolates can be downloaded to the machine in seconds, allowing Mondelez to rapidly manufacture and test new products in days rather than weeks. 

The machine produces 8 chocolates at a time, which is a new development for 3D printing applications. This multi-lane approach provides the balance between flexibility and a sensible production rate, meaning that the machine is viable for commercial production. Other industries, such as pharmaceuticals, stand to benefit from this, where 3D printing of, for example, personalised drug therapies can become a reality.

“Working in collaboration with one of the biggest chocolate brands in the world has been a privilege and a very rewarding experience for us,” says Tom Bailey, Managing Director at 3P. 

“The combination of our well-proven process development methodology and production technologies with their product development know-how has resulted in a new and disruptive technology that can potentially shape the future of chocolate manufacturing and excitingly, what started as a ‘Test and Learn’ project has resulted in a successful prototype that is producing great quality products.”

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Imbibe Live delivers at 10th anniversary show

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A leading line-up of beer and cider seminars and exhibitors led to a memorable anniversary show at this year’s Imbibe Live

Whether it was whiskey, sake, no and low products, wine or craft beer, Imbibe Live 2019 provided the hospitality sector with the perfect location to source new products for their drinks lists. From 1-2 July at Olympia in London, thousands of bartenders, bar owners, sommeliers, publicans and hotel managers came together, demonstrating the event’s continued place at the heart of the licenced on-trade industry.

But it was not just about beverages this year. Following an increased demand from visitors, Imbibe Live housed the brand new The Snack Show, which featured a host of snacking products, from crisps and jerky to nuts and biscuits.

Low/no in demand

One of the major trends in the current market has been an increased demand from consumers for low and no alcoholic beverages. This burgeoning trend was evident at Imbibe Live, where there was a marked increase in the number of suppliers presenting innovative new products with either low ABV or no alcohol.

The importance of leveraging the no/low movement was highlighted by Saturday Kitchen’s Jane Parkinson, who revealed that around a third of young adults do not drink alcohol and a half of the adult population are looking for lower alcohol drinks. During an exclusive session at the event on Tuesday, she gave an engaged audience an insight into the modern wine list and the processes behind producing great tasting, low alcohol wines. Pernod Ricard’s Daniel l’Anson also hosted an interactive tasting that proved that low alcohol does not equal low flavour, also providing key insights on how to seamlessly introduce the category into a menu.

On the show floor visitors found an abundance of no and low products that could help them cater for all consumers. A highlight from the beer category was Small Beer Brewing Co.’s Original Small Beer Lager, a refreshing 2.1% lager with masses of flavour. Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits also caused a stir within the spirits category with its non-alcoholic homages to the greatest tipples of all time, including Absinthe, Dry London Spirit and American Malt & Coffee Liqueur.  And Berkshire-based start-up, Saicho, had a successful show down at the wine bar with its range of sparkling cold brewed teas, including its Darjeeling sparkling cold brewed tea – a non-alcoholic wine substitute with notes of muscatel, nectarine and wood spice that pairs brilliantly with grilled meats.

Spirits are thriving

Another segment of the market that continues to thrive is the spirits category and Imbibe Live did not disappoint in this area, presenting dozens of new products including a new vermouth from Martini called Fiero, and a brand-new vodka producer in the form of Broken Clock Lingering Vodka. While gin remained hugely popular, there was significant interest in unique new products on the market, like Dead Man’s Fingers new Hemp Rum that is tapping into global interest in Cannabis and CBD products.

Visitors also remarked on the wide variety of international suppliers in attendance this year, with Tennessee whiskey, German-made gin and blended premium Colombian rum garnering interest from UK pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants.

Ronak Kataria, Director at The Drinks Basket, commented on the scope of international producers: “We do everything from beers, wines and spirits, so coming here is a fantastic one-stop shop when it comes to international brands. We do go to other wine shows and gin shows, but nothing is as geographically diverse and comprehensive as Imbibe Live.”

High-quality mixers galore

With flavoured carbonates experiencing a growth of 5.6% during the last 12-month period, mixers are high on the agenda for hospitality professionals looking for the best complementary sidekick. Fentiman’s had a successful show, providing visitors with a chance to try its latest and most popular mixers including Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water, Rose Lemonade and Ginger Beer & Muddled Lime. Schweppes showcased a selection of its mixers including its Quenching Cucumber Tonic Water and Dark Spirit Mixer Muscovado. It also excited visitors with its Coca-Cola Signature Mixers including Spicy, Smoky, Herbal and Woody variants. And Lixir Tonic, mixers created by bartenders from the North East, shared its all natural, artificial flavour and sweetener free range of premium mixers including Blood Orange & Cinnamon and Elderflower & Lemon Tonic Water.

Jordan Palmer, co-founder of Lixir commented: “The number of no and low brands is increasing and it’s great to see the category better represented at Imbibe Live.”

A wealth of information

In addition to the fantastic display of products, the licenced on-trade had access to some of the greatest minds during the show, each discussing the most pertinent issues and providing invaluable advice.

A highlight from The Chef’s table was the packed-out Vegan Food & Wine Pairing Masterclass, delivered by guest speaker David Havlik, Head Sommelier at the highly acclaimed Gauthier Soho. David highlighted the importance of catering to a growing demographic of consumers that are vegan. People choosing to eat in this increasingly popular way don’t want to have to second guess everything they eat, so providing them with high quality and well-thought out options is an absolute must in the current on-trade landscape. David shared his in-depth knowledge on the subject by providing some examples of these dishes, some of which included Chilled Beetroot & Cherry Veloute, Warm Charred Leek Grenobloise and Summer Truffle Tortellini.

Another favourite from the 2019 line-up was Adjunct Baby, an exploration of the additional ingredients used in brewing to transform ordinary beers into something truly unique. The session was delivered by Brooklyn Brewery’s infamously debonair brewmaster, Garrett Oliver, who explained that beer is arguably the most versatile drink, even above wine. Garrett summarised his session by stating: “Beer can taste like anything, make it like crème brûlée, make it mimic a cocktail. It’ll go into anything. Beer is anything and beer is people!”

On Tuesday, the Industry Matters theatre hosted Miguel Lopez, the founder of Lab for Fitness. Bartenders and sommeliers listened intently as he explained how they can improve their well-being by making simple adjustments to their diet and lifestyle. In the final session, Jeremy Scorer from Hospitality Industry Training put the spotlight on the skills shortage in the sector. He announced that the industry needs to attract 993,000 new people by 2022 but revealed more than half of 16-24 year olds don’t want to enter the sector. He highlighted ways that businesses can overcome potential recruitment issues and provided examples of apprenticeship programmes.

The Winemaker’s Cellar hosted six exclusive wine tastings over the two-day event, attended by sommeliers from across the UK. Opening the features programme on day one, Mackenzie Paton flew in from New Zealand to host an over-subscribed Ata Rangi Pinot Noir Masterclass, where attendees tried wines from 2009, 2013 and 2016 whilst learning the history of Pinot Noir in the Martinborough region. Later that day, Master of Wine, Anne McHale presented a comparative tasting of six different expressions of Gamay, discussing both the challenges and the opportunities it presents for the on-trade industry. The Sommelier Wine Awards also offered attendees insightful sessions on judging a wine competition, led by industry expert and SWA team leader, Tom Forrest.

Hot competition

Centre Stage played host to three nail-biting competitions over the two-day event. The Tapsters 2019 Final kicked things off on Monday, with the mission of ‘finding the best beer and cider team in the land’. There was an unprecedented number of entries this year, which were whittled down to two teams: New World Trading Company and Brewhouse Kitchen. After five neck-and-neck rounds – including off-flavour identification, cider throwing and a beer and cider food pairing – Brewhouse Kitchen took the trophy, winning an all-expenses paid trip to visit the 525-year old Stiegl brewery in Austria. Head Judge, Pete Brown, commented that “every year there is a new benchmark in the quality of bar staff”.

Later that day, the Bartenders v Sommeliers competition returned for its 11th and final year. With both sides entering the competition with five victories each, there was a lot at stake. A packed-out Centre Stage enjoyed a wild series of challenges including The Magnum Pour and the Cascade, with the Bartenders taking the ultimate win as reigning champions. Finally, on Tuesday, Birmingham was crowned the Cocktail Capital of the UK 2019 in the Shakes and the City 2019 Final, winning a jackpot of £1000.

Lindsey Coleman, Event Director at Imbibe Live, commented: “Over the two-day event, Imbibe Live brought together sommeliers, owners, buyers, bar teams, suppliers and industry professionals from the licensed on-trade. From the Winemaker’s Cellar and The Cocktail Lounge, to The Beer and Cider Hub and Centre Stage, the extensive features programme was packed-out across both days, providing invaluable market insights and tastings from some of the industry’s leading experts. We’re delighted that Imbibe Live remains such a popular destination for the hospitality industry and look forward to welcoming attendees back in 2020.”

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