Who ate all the pies?


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As we munch our way through British Pie Week statistics from CGA Foodservice show how the nation’s love of pies remains as strong as ever.

Pubs and bars have upped their sales of pies by 3.8% in value terms over the past 12 months, while restaurants have seen sales rise 1.9%.via GIPHY

Over a third of pies bought by caterers are purchased by the cost sector, while pie sales through B&I are on the wane, representing 10% of sales.

shutterstock_395322316 steak pie resizedSteak pies are the most popular although their 38.3% share of sales has decreased slightly year-on-year, while chicken pies are becoming more popular with 25% of sales, up 4.2% year-on-year.

Sales of savoury pastries and pies are typically at their peak in the paramount source month of November and September, with March the third top month for pie-eating!



Yorkshire-born celebrities doing it properly with Yorkshire Tea


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Sir Michael Parkinson, the Brownlee Brothers and award-winning indie rockers, the Kaiser Chiefs are playing up to their playful Yorkshire roots in three new tongue-in-cheek adverts with Yorkshire Tea.

The new £7m campaign has been designed to position Yorkshire Tea as the place ‘where everything’s done proper’.

The three adverts show the celebrities in a variety of comic scenarios aimed at demonstrating Yorkshire Tea’s unwavering passion and uncompromising dedication to doing things properly with the adverts filmed on site at Yorkshire Tea’s HQ in Harrogate featuring employees from across the business.

Kevin Sinfield, Yorkshire Tea’s head of brand marketing, said: “Two years ago, we took our philosophy of properness and a fair bit of quirky Yorkshireness to the small screen through what was a hugely successful Brewtopia campaign.

“Now we’re taking our passion and commitment to doing things properly to the next level through our biggest marketing campaign to date. We want to challenge the general perceptions of consumers towards the tea category by focusing on the key values we share with them.

“We’re extremely proud of the new adverts; they’re fun, engaging and entertaining and with well-known celebrities at the forefront, they will drive our mission to make properness culturally famous.”

The trio of new adverts, produced with creative agency Lucky Generals, launched last Saturday 4 March during The Voice TV programme on ITV.

Brita raises £2,000 for industry charity Hospitality Action


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l-r Richard Vanstone Neville UK Glenn Roberts BRITA Professional Penny Moore Hospitality Action - (2)

Richard Vanstone Neville UK, Glenn Roberts Brita Professional and Penny Moore Hospitality Action

Water Filter Company Brita Professional has raised £2,000 for industry charity, Hospitality Action (HA), via their recently organised Purity C Steam Cycling Challenge held at this year’s Great Hospitality Show, in London.

The challenge was kick started by National Chef of the Year 2013, Hayden Groves, and saw over 100 visitors jump on the bike to beat each others times.  The task – to see how far they could cycle in 180 seconds – the average time it takes to exchange the new Purity C Steam cartridge, and a nod to HA’s 180th anniversary.

At the end of the event, it was Richard Vanstone, sales controller, Neville UK who raced to victory with an impressive 1.3 miles cycled in 180 seconds. Richard receives £250 worth of vouchers for a Michelin-starred restaurant of his choice.

Penny Moore, chief executive of Hospitality Action, said of the challenge: “We are delighted that BRITA chose to support our charity in this way, and are very grateful to everyone who took part in the challenge. The money raised will go directly towards helping those in our industry who have fallen on hard times and really will make an enormous impact on our beneficiaries’ lives.”

Glenn Roberts, sales director, Brita Professional, added: “We’d like to thank everyone who took part in our event at the show. We’re thrilled to have raised so much money for Hospitality Action and to have joined them in celebrating 180 years as the industry’s leading charity.”

Visitor’s donations amounted to £1,000 which were matched by Brita.

Hayden Groves gears up for Three Tours charity challenge

Hospitality Action celebrates 180 years


Maple Syrup: UK Ambassadors and Sweet Success

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of a trip to Canada to experiencsj james theare phone box pollye the delights of Canadian Maple syrup.  The purpose of the trip, organised by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ) was to attend the launch of the 2017 Maple Festival and be part of the celebrations and education around the start of the sugaring season.

The added incentive was the opportunity to experience the culinary skills of Nathan Eades, head chef of Michelin-starred restaurant, Simpsons in Birmingham.  Under the tutorage of chef owner, Andreas Antona and chef director Luke Tipping, the larger than life chef is making his mark on the city’s vibrant food scene and was the guest chef representing the UK at the launch dinner.

nathan plating upHis brief was to produce a comforting traditional High Tea, with Maple as the unique ingredient, including:

  • Maple-Smoked Organic Wild Salmon, Cucumber, and Herring Caviar in a Horseradish-Maple Emulsion – a modern take on two classic British High Tea ingredients: salmon and cucumber
  • Soup and a Sandwich… with a hint of Maple
  • Coronation Chicken served on a crispy rye cracker, dressed with curry cream and mushroom ketchup, served alongside a chicken broth with julienned mushrooms marinated in maple vinegar.
  • Sunday Roast with Flavours of Maple – a loin of Boileau Red Deer with the aromas of maple, accompanied by game-stuffed cabbage, layered celery root, and maple cranberry chutney

Mylène Denicolaï, acting director of promotion, innovation and market development, FPAQ explained how the concept had been designed to underline the incredible growth of maple in the UK market.

nathan on stage pollyEades, who had previously worked in Toronto, took to the stage at the end of the meal, and said (mostly in French):  “I discovered maple when I first came to work in this country and the taste and versatility of it were instantly appealing. Maple is gaining popularity in the UK and people are discovering that maple is a lot more than just syrup on their pancakes. So I’m really proud to have put together a menu that’s based in British food tradition with a maple twist.”

Maple Master Yves Lévesque, head pastry chef and owner of Dansereau Traiteur, completed the meal with an apple charlotte with whisky and candied fruit and a Maple butter caramel.

The FPAQ also celebrated its unique associate membership of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts (RACA) – the first foreign product and association to be accepted by the RACA.  Yolande Stanley MCA, chairman of pastry for the RACA, and pastry chef trainer for WorldSkills International and London South Bank University, announced three young winners on the trip, acknowledging their skills at the dinner.

raca maple

Polly Chan, RACA Young Pastry Chef of the Year and bakery chef at Pennyhill Park Hotel, Bagshot (who won her award whilst at Yauatcha);  Joel Gueller, RACA Young Chef of the Year and chef de partie, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford and Alexander MacLeod, RACA Young Waiter of the Year, of the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh.

Maple has also scored another first in the UK; in fact a World first in education.  At the end of last year Maple Products from Quebec became the subject of a five-month course at the College of Food at University College Birmingham (UCB) with students creating a range of maple-based recipes.  You can find the winning recipe online at www.welovemaple.co.uk

UCB lands inaugural affiliation with Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers

David Colcombe, chef consultant and honorary fellow and maple yves david and nathan UPA07fe17-36GrapheStudiovisiting professor of Culinary Arts at UCB supported Eades on his maple journey and joined the brigade in the pop-up kitchen in the basement of the St James Theatre, Montreal.    As an Ambassador for FPAQ in the UK, Colcombe has extensive knowledge of the natural sugar ingredient.

Maple syrup is extracted from the sap of maple trees and is graded in four colours, each colour with its own distinct flavour.  The first grade is Golden, extra light in colour, with a delicate taste; Amber, light to medium in colour, with a rich taste; Dark, medium to dark in colour with a robust taste and Very Dark, with a strong taste.

Quebec’s maple syrup producers have a rigorous grading and quality independent inspection process for their maple syrup production with over 250,000 barrels inspected every year.  The inspectors look for:

•    Brix degrees – the sugar concentration of the maple syrup
•    Authenticity – that it is 100% pure maple syrup
•    Clarity – the absence of any suspended particles
•    Colour class – light transmitted through the maple syrup
•    Flavour – absence of flaws masking the maple flavour

Citadelle, based in Plessisvlle, Quebec is the world’s largest producer of 100% pure maple syrup and, a cooperative with nearly 2000 members.  Their maple syrup contains no preservatives or artificial flavour and is completely unrefined retaining the sap’s inherent vitamins and nutrients, with the sap collected from over seven million maple trees across Canada.

Maple syrup from Canada contains polyphenols, healthy compounds that are also found in berries, tea and flaxseeds which help keep blood sugar levels in check.

Just 60ml of maple syrup contains your daily recommended dose of manganese, which helps keep bones strong and healthy and is necessary for normal brain and nerve function.

Native Americans were the first to recognise maple sap as a source of energy and nutrition.  To make maple syrup, they would throw hot stones into a bucket of sap, or let it freeze overnight and remove the layer of ice to reveal the syrup underneath.

??????????Nowadays, maple is pumped from taps in the maple trees directly into pipes into a maple tank.  Some maple farmers use condenser machines to accelerate the extraction of water from the sap, and then move this concentrated sap into a 300 gallon boiler that heats it up to 220 degrees Celsius.  To be a syrup the sap has to become 66% sugar on the globally used Brix scale. ??????????

We discovered various maple syrup products during our tour of Montreal and Quebec City including maple butter, which is not a butter at all but a sweet spread, to try on toast or as a cake frosting; maple Taffy – a thick clear maple caramel, that hardens when served on ice and makes excellent Taffy lollipops, or an ice cream topping.

Ginger organic maple spread and maple and garlic dressing. Maple coffee and maple mustard and an incredible product called Cabane du Pic-Bois which is a sweet and sour maple vinegar which can be used as an alternative to  balsamic vinegar or raspberry vinegar and could be used to accompany foie gras, boost sauces, meats, seafood, vegetables or just a salad. I have a bottle safely tucked away in my office drawer!

lisa mapleWe finished the tour with two very special visits:  a traditional maple lunch at Érablière du Lac Sugar Shack consisting of split pea soup, transformed by a dash of maple syrup, maple glazed ham, beans and bacon (cooked in maple of course), meat pie and sautéed potatoes followed by maple tart.  An unforgettable lunch never to be recreated and some time to sledge for those brave enough.

And finally on our last day a trip to FPAQ President Serge Beaulieu’s maple production facilities.  A maple, dairy and arable farm, where we saw the maple trees tapped and ready to release their sap for the 2017 sugaring season (which usually starts in mid-February).  The perfect temperature for the first of the season maple sap to flow from the trees is -15°C during the night up to +5°C during the day.

maple treesAs the temperatures rise, the grades and colour of the maple syrups change, and that, is the true secret of maple.  It’s a pure natural product, and its range of use depending on its grade is huge.  It’s an extremely versatile product.

If you would like to try Canadian maple syrup in the UK you can purchase it via:

I Sens Ca – www.isens.ca/
Pure Maple – www.puremaple.co.uk/
Cotswold-Fayre – www.cotswold-fayre.co.uk/
Sous Chef – www.souschef.co.uk/
Infusion 4 Chefs – www.infusions4chefs.co.uk/

team maple?????


quebec city view


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Pothecary Gin: just what the doctor ordered……


Pothecary IMG_3401

Pothecary Gin is a British Blended Gin launched in January 2015 by Lukasz Dwornik, currently general manager at the Christchurch Harbour hotel, and Martin Jennings, former wine development specialist at Matthew Clark.  The beautifully bottled gin  has won a double gold at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirit Competition, a silver outstanding and silver award at the 2016 International Wine & Spirit Competition, in London and a gold medal at CWSA 2016 (in China).

Not content with their success thus far – and exploring the flavours of the brand, the pair have now launched a new gin and chocolate gift box – just in time for Christmas.

If you haven’t tried this gin yet, why not treat yourself to a small sample accompanied by some gin chocolates.pothecary IMG_3420

In a unique collaboration, Pothecary Gin and Chocolate by Miss Witt have produced a pairing of the British Blend premium gin and gourmet chocolates. With both artisans using contemporary methods of production that intensify the aroma and flavour of the botanicals and ingredients they work with.

Using some of the distillates, botanicals, and the spring water used to create Pothecary Gin, Kerry Witt, of Chocolate by Miss Witt, has created two highly original chocolates using her signature water ganache – which is dairy free.

The chocolatier has used Venezuelan 40% milk chocolate, organic Black Mulberry extract post distillation, and organic Sicilian Lemon distillate, to create an indulgent Black Mulberry Ganache, that is encased in a crisp dark chocolate shell – or for short – the ‘Ana’ chocolate, named after Anatolia, the region where the Organic Black Mulberries were grown.

The white chocolate is from the Dominican Republic and is mixed with Lavender distillate, with a touch of sea salt, to create the Pothecary Gin turquoise-coloured chocolate, encasing a soft mousse centre. The white ‘Provençal’ is named after the area in France where the Lavender is grown.

Pothecary IMG_3424

All boxed up in a beautiful gift box including a 100ml bottle of Pothecary Gin.

Dwornik and Jennings distill each of the botanicals for POthecary separately, which, says Dwornik “Yields optimum quality and incomparable flavours,” then blended together to create an aromatic, smooth gin, with each bottle individually filled, corked and sealed by hand.

“We believe we’ve created a new gin category with Pothecary,” says Dwornik. The British Blend is a combination of wild-foraged Juniper from Bulgaria, earthy and warming on the palate; organic Lavender, dry and savoury; organic Black Mulberries from Anatolia, with a hint of fruit sweetness aroma; organic Lemons from Sicily, adding freshness and zing and Tilia flowers from Poland with aromas of black tea and honey which adds a softness to the finished product.

The Pothecary Gin brand and its packaging were developed by design agency ‘Adam and Company’ who designed their branding concept from the original brief, “championing the quality of the unique ingredients presented through the aesthetic of vintage apothecary packaging.” www.adamnco.com

Dwornik and Jennings hoped to create a luxury, premium gin. Something a little old-fashioned and traditional.  As the new gin kids on the block they are now selling over a 1,000 bottles a month – and seem to have created something that stands out from the crowd!

Gift boxes are priced from £25 and available fom Gin kiosk, 31dover.com or master of malt.



Innis & Gunn brew truth serum beer


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sm2Feeling frustrated by the US elections, independent Scottish brewer, Innis & Gunn, created a new range of beers laced with truth serum.

Innis & Gunn shipped bottles to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, “to remind them of the importance of truthful campaigning”.

The new beer, Smoke & Mirrors, comes in three truth-telling flavours: Liquorice root, Mullein and Vine Essence.

Studies show that liquorice root, when consumed over a long period of time, helps to improve cognitive function and keep mental skills sharp. ‘No excuses for a hazy memory’ Innis & Gunn claim.

Mullein, which is used during the Smoke & Mirrors brewing process, is a natural relaxant that Innis & Gunn say encourages open and honest behaviour, wilst the Vine Essence helps those who consume it to inspire or lead people, without force.

Dougal Gunn Sharp, founder and master brewer at Innis & Gunn, said: “Scotland is a straight-talking nation and we’re looking forward to bringing a little part of our Scottish candidness over to the States, along with our most innovative brew to date, Smoke & Mirrors.”

“Our latest beer has been brewed especially for the American people and demonstrates how beer can be so much more than just a drink. Through Smoke & Mirrors, we have the power to open up a more real, more honest world.”

And if the ingredients are a bit too hard to swallow, the 7.4% ABV will probably have them speaking the truth in no time!

Brú Brewery looks to expand >>

Camden Town Brewery launches new look >>

Ben Spalding announces residency at St Bart’s Brewery >>

Callebaut partner with 3D-printing restaurant

3D Printing

Callebaut’s 811 dark Belgium chocolate has been chosen to round off the dinner at Food Ink’s international tour.

Food Ink – which claims to be the world’s first 3D printing restaurant – kicked off its world tour this week at The Old Truman Brewery in London.

The restaurant partnered with Callebaut in search for high quality ingredients and offered the chocolate as part of the desert following a nine-course dinner.

Food Ink head chef, Joel Castanye, who prepared the evening meals said: “It is great to work with top ingredients from all over the world and for the chocolate we naturally looked to Belgium. Using Callebaut’s Finest Belgian Chocolate for our desserts was crucial to us and is an absolute dream to work with.”

Callebaut - 3D Chocolate

Pascale Meulemeester, vice president of Global Gourmet at Callebaut, said: “It’s a great honour for us to be part of this event and participate in such a highly innovative project. This proves once again that Callebaut’s Finest Belgian Chocolate is the chocolate preferred by chefs worldwide.”

Everything in the restaurant is 3D printed, including the furniture and cutlery. The Food Ink tour will stop next at Berlin, and continue to Dubai, Seoul, Rome, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Toronto, NYC, Taipei, Las Vegas, Sao Paolo, Tokyo, Austin, Singapore, Los Angeles, Cape Town, Sydney, Reykjavik.

Callebaut 3D Dessert

The company that’s ‘hacking fine-dining’ >>

The future’s bright: How intense colours and flavours are taking over patisserie >>

Minute on the Clock: Mark Tilling, Squires Kitchen >>

Who ate all the pies? Britain’s Top 10 Favourite Pies

Online market research company OnePoll has commissioned the study we have all been waiting for – what is Britain’s favourite pie?

Gone are the days of pondering over pies at the chip shop. No longer must we feel flustered when posed with the prospect of cooking pie for a dinner party. From now on, even your film choices have been made easier for you thanks to this glorious survey sent from the OnePoll gods…

Because the classic American Pie came out on top!

1. Apple

The study of 2,000 people voted apple pie as the favourite. Female participants in particular had more of a sweet tooth. A third of adults said they chose to make apple pie with their families more than any other kind of pie.


2. Shepherd’s pie

Coming in at second place, the UK born and bred Shepherd’s Pie! Four out of ten chose the lamb and potato mix above all other savoury pies.


3. Steak and ale

No surprise here, the manly men voted in favour of steak and ale pie according to OnePoll.


4. Cottage pie

Bringing home the childhood memories at number four! But is it really a pie? Begin the pastry/no pastry debate…


5. Steak & kidney

A classic ‘dad’ pie. FUN FACT: OnePoll’s survey revealed that Brits eat around two pies a month, however some admitted to eating up to ten!


6. Lemon meringue

Ah ha, our second sweet pie! During the survey, only 12% of participants said they preferred to eat a sweet pie over a savoury.


7. Chicken and mushroom

Over 84% of participants describe pie as a ‘comfort food’ and who can argue with that?


8. Pork Pie

94% of participants believe pie originated in Britain. According to OnePoll, it’s believed that pastry was invented by the Greeks thousands of years ago. The pork pie, though, is a British classic.


9. Mince pie

Tradition says you must make a wish while eating the first mince pie of the Christmas season. Can we wish for mince pies all year round?


10. Meat and potato

And finally, the pie that is said to have stood the test of time! Good old fashioned meat and potato.

For the full top 20 visit: http://www.swnsdigital.com/