When it comes to unsung heroes the world of school catering has more than its fair share, which is one of the reasons why the Educatering Excellence Awards are so important. Now in its seventh year these awards celebrate excellence across the school catering sector, with a judging panel made up of no less than twenty movers and shakers from the industry, the awards are highly coveted and recognise the great work of this often overlooked or maligned sector.
I recently had the joy of visiting Lisbon – Portugal’s vibrant capital – a city perched on the edge of the River Tagus and bathed in warm September sunshine.
With a rich, seafaring heritage and situated, as it is, so close to the Atlantic, fish and seafood are the order of the day at restaurants across the city, with the infamous Bacalhau (salted cod) and Sardinhas (sardines) appearing almost ubiquitously on menus. Delve deeper though, and Lisboans know seafood on a much grander scale.
On our first evening we headed to Cervejaria Ramiro, a family-run Seafood Restaurant which started its days as a local ‘beer hall’. With warnings of hour-long queues we ventured out early and managed to get seated within about 10 minutes (although longer would have been well worth the wait). Sizzling prawns and garlicky clams were fantastic openers before we tackled the largest crab I’d ever seen – all complimented with local Sagres beer.
Lisbon also plays host to Time Out’s first food hall. Launched in May 2014, the market is a snapshot of all the best culinary offerings Portugal has to offer. Open from 10am to midnight, the market buzzes throughout the day without ever seeming to experience a ‘down-time’. Having done a thorough sweep of all the stands, we opted for Marlene Vieira, a female chef with roots in Northern Portugal with a flair for reinventing traditional Portuguese cuisine. A portion of Fried Cuttlefish and Squid Ink Risotto later and I was sold – Vieira’s dishes are absolutely fantastic.
Of course, no trip to Lisbon would be complete without paying a visit to Belém – the home of the famous Pastel de Nata. At just one euro a pop, they appear in Patisserie windows across Lisbon but Pastéis de Belém is the undisputed origin of the sweet, custard-filled tarts. Served with individual packets of icing sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle til your heart’s content and rest easy, knowing that the hilly streets of the city centre more than justify the delicious calories.
Four days in Lisbon passed in a blur of food, drink, hills, trams, tiles and sunshine. If you get a chance to visit this wonderful city, don’t pass it up – you won’t be disappointed.
Having spent a very enjoyable day judging back in July, I was excited head up to The Grosvenor House Hotel last night to see the winners of the Foodservice Quality Food Awards of the collect their rather impressive ‘Q’s. With bubbles flowing and guests filling up the event room there was a definite air of anticipation, as those shortlisted waited for the results to be revealed.
(vlog by Neil Brenson)
As a leading foodservice agency, the food-to-go market, which is predicted to grow to £23.5bn by 2022* has been top of mind at Jellybean Creative for some time (as you can see from our previous blogs: here, here, and here), so it was with great interest I sat down to hear about this unabating trend from a global perspective when I visited Lunch!
IGD, the global food and grocery experts, are undertaking a major insight programme around food-to-go and Gavin Rothwell their Senior Insights Manager has the enviable job of travelling the world searching for what makes a great food-to-go proposition. Here are some of his findings:
Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room , situated in its homeland Seattle, it’s just one mile away from the first ever Starbucks site. Billed as a ‘coffee experience’, this really is a brand showcase and is set up to educate, inform and inspire. There are wider rollout plans already underway for launches in other big cities worldwide.
Sweetgreen is a US-based salad bar/healthy meal solutions chain with a huge focus on provenance and seasonality, which they use as a selling point e.g. Get your asparagus soup today, as it will only be available for the next week and then it’s gone until next year!
Panera Bread is a two-thousand strong American bakery serving up healthy, balanced and nutritious menus, using good ingredients and a host of flexible meals for almost every occasion. A simple idea they introduced was including an apple as the default in a meal deal instead of something sweet.
Toss & Turn is a chain of salad and soup bars in Singapore and Hong Kong whose motto is ‘Eat Well, Live Well’. Amongst other menu items, which they describe as ‘leafy goodness’, they’ve been offering their customers the ‘Smoothie Bowl’ for some time and have an all-day dining menu including gourmet thins, wholesome soups and succulent sandwiches.
Espresso House is the largest coffeehouse chain in the Nordics with a focus on in-store environment and a strong food range with a multitude of choices. Sweden has the 2nd largest organic market in the world, so it caters for this market by making sure that 10% of their range is organic.
Centra is Ireland’s leading convenience retail group, who have developed their own coffee shop brand – Frank and Honest, Gourmet Coffee Company . They’re leading the way in food-to-go because they offer various different solutions from self-serve machines, to coffee shops with baristas serving up premium salads and cakes. They have built up such a good reputation that they’re being approached to set-up across the country.
Whole Foods Market are continually innovating, with every individual store offering something different. The Boston store is working with individual street traders to offer something local to its clientele.
PCC Community Markets in Seattle boast open kitchens showing just how proud they are of what they do. Their chefs create original recipes from scratch using fresh, seasonal ingredients, so customers can pick up a hot slice, whole pie or grab a take-and-bake pizza for later.
Food Central in Miyana, Mexico is one of the best case studies because it meets every single food-to-go option available in the market. Essentially it’s a huge food court offering the widest variety of food options to satisfy every taste bud!
All these examples from across the world show that there’s not just one way to achieve success and that understanding the customer is key. Expect more fusions between foodservice and retail food-to-go operations as the food spaces develop. Shopper trends are pointing to a further increase in the role of food-to-go ahead, so we can look forward to enjoying more exciting options on the go!
If you want to find out even more, Gavin will be speaking at the IGD Food-to-go conference in London next month.
*IGD Forecast August2017