Winter 2008 - Centre Stage

12/04/2013 11:04
Great culinary contests, live debates and a showcase for the best in products and services was on the menu at this year's Restaurant Show.

The Restaurant Show in October went a step further this year by proving it is also the platform for debate in the hospitality industry.

Food pundits took to the stage to discuss some of the biggest issues facing the industry – from the credit crunch and the smoking ban to menu labelling.

The panel, which included Arthur Potts Dawson, chef and eco-pioneer of Acorn House and Water House, food critics Jay Rayner and Charles Campion and writer Rose Prince, looked at ways restaurateurs could beat the credit squeeze.

Campion told delegates that he believes it is the middle ground restaurants that will suffer, but predicted that not only will the cheaper eateries survive the crunch, there will always be diners choosing to eat at top end restaurants.

Potts Dawson claimed that his business is benefiting from the pressure on people's cash flow but he had noticed a downturn in wine sales.

Menus and labelling was a contentious issue. Prince said restaurants should know how to make the best of different cuts of meat and that restaurants that just serve fillets and duck breasts have been warned. She also believed that restaurants should display provenance information on their menus. However Rayner remained adamant that eating out is still seen as a treat and the last thing he wanted to read is where every single ingredient comes from. Potts Dawson argued that ingredient sourcing of a restaurant should be based on trust with your client base.

Elsewhere at the show, many people turned out to sample signature dishes from the two on site restaurants, One-o-One and Café Spice Namasté, listen to inspirational talks from leading champagne, wine and beer sommeliers at the Food and Drink Match, and watch chefs battle it out in culinary contests in the competition theatre.

Live sessions included Michael Caines and Mark Rossi demonstrating how to produce the best modern European cuisine; Giorgio Locatelli, Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray rustling up a selection of Italian dishes; and Tom Kerridge serving a range of modern British flavours as well as French rustic dishes. First time visitor was chef Marco Pierre White who said it was his first time visiting an event of this nature. “I think it's wonderful that there's such a mix of people; for me it's a social event as much as anything else.”

The Craft Guild stand next to the competition theatre also attracted much attention thanks to City & Guilds offering advice about courses and Sophie Wright signing her new book.

Show manager Clair Bowman says: “2008 has been a truly celebratory year for the show and it has certainly developed into the platform of the hospitality industry. We already have big plans for 2009.”

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