Colors: Green Color
Colors: Green Color

Sandwell Council will be funding free school meals to those families who are eligible during the February half-term holidays. Parents and carers will be contacted through their child's school and will receive vouchers to go towards the cost of food for the two week break.

Councillor Wasim Ali, cabinet member for resources and core services, said: "We will again be providing funding for free school meals to ensure no child goes hungry this half-term using a voucher scheme to eligible families. I encourage all those families who are eligible to take up this offer.

"I would like to thank all of our schools for their help and support in getting these vouchers to those families who need them."

Cllr Maria Crompton, Sandwell Council's deputy leader, added: "We used vouchers to help families during the last school holiday and will again do this to make things a little easier for our families to help with the cost of a meal."

Once verified, vouchers will be sent to parents electronically with an alternative being offered to those parents without mobile phones or internet access.

Sandwell Council has budgeted £262,500 to help around 17,500 children. Eligible families will receive a voucher for £15 per child for the week-long school holiday. Schools will contact parents in the coming week when details on how to access the vouchers will be available.

New research has revealed that the turmoil of 2020 led half of Brits to reassess their cooking and eating habits – with one in ten stating they had already made big changes. The survey, commissioned in line with the release of new plant-based recipe book Great British Vegan by Aimee Ryan (@WallflowerKitchen), shows that a quarter (26%) of respondents reported cutting down their meat consumption - following news that a record half a million have signed up to the 31-day annual vegan eating challenge, Veganuary.

Although many reported eating fewer meat and dairy products, some respondents expressed concerns around adopting a fully vegan diet – the biggest being that they might miss eating their favourite foods (39%). Others worried vegan food may be less tasty (22%), more expensive (22%) or that following a vegan diet may be too time-consuming (16%).

When asked what would encourage them towards a vegan diet, a fifth (19%) of respondents stated they would feel reassured by knowing food would taste just as good, knowing it was a healthier option (18%) and knowing they could still enjoy their favourite dishes (17%).

Among the dishes said to be ‘most missed’ when transitioning to a vegan diet, were fish and chips (44%), a traditional Sunday roast (42%) and a full English breakfast (38%).


Top 10 Savoury British Dishes Most Likely To Be Missed When Turning Vegan

1.    Fish and Chips – 44%

2.    Sunday Roast – 42%

3.    Full English – 38%

4.    Bacon Butty – 37%

5.    Sausage Rolls – 28%

6.    Shepherd’s Pie – 27%

7.    Yorkshire Puddings – 27%

8.    Bangers and Mash – 26%

9.    Cheese and Ham Sandwich – 21%

10.  Steak and Kidney Pie – 21%

Wider trends included a quarter of Brits now cooking more from scratch than did previously and over a third are eating healthier and including more fruit and vegetables in their diets.

The research uncovered a generational gap in eating trends, with 71% of 16-24-year-olds considering or making changes to their diet following 2020, compared with just 31% of those over 55.

Top 10 Eating and Cooking Habit Changes Prompted By Events of 2020

1.    More cooking from scratch / eating fewer prepared meals - 25%

2.    Eating healthier than previously - 23%

3.    Eating more fruits and vegetables than previously - 23%

4.    Being more experimental with cooking / tried new recipes - 19%

5.    Eating less meat/meat products - 18%

6.    Eating more locally sourced food - 17%

7.    Spending more money on cooking and eating - 16%

8.    Eating fewer sweets or desserts - 14%

9.    Trying to cook in bulk more - 12%

10.  Eating more traditionally British foods/meals - 11%

Aimee Ryan, author of Great British Vegan said: “It’s so exciting to see how many people are embracing changes in their eating habits following the difficult year we’ve all had. When I went vegan in 2014, I was determined not to give up my favourite foods, such as the full English breakfast, steak and kidney pie and scones. I created the ‘Great British Vegan’ recipe book, which has plant-based versions of all of these staples, in the hopes that it will show people it’s possible to enjoy comfort foods you love, without using animal products and without compromising on flavour and familiarity."

Jessica Axe, Publisher at White Lion - publishers of Great British Vegan, said: “The research shows a steady rise in popularity for a more ‘flexitarian’ approach to eating from the general public, with many wanting to dabble in eating less meat and dairy without wanting to sacrifice enjoying their favourite dishes. That’s why we’re delighted to launch ‘Great British Vegan’, showcasing delicious and more accessible versions of everyone's favourite meals and comfort foods. We hope it spurs even more people towards that Veganuary pledge.”


Kid chef and 12-year old entrepreneur Julian Frederick is teaching other children how to build their culinary skills and empowering them to be leaders in the kitchen and beyond. His company, The Step Stool Chef, which is dedicated to building kids’ confidence and independence through cooking, is partnering with SideChef, the all-in-one home cooking platform, to launch The Step Stool Chef Cooking School For Kids brought to you by SideChef Premium.

Step Stool Chef CEO and co-founder Julian Frederick said: “I want to help kids build their cooking skills and confidence while creating great family time memories. The Step Stool Chef teaches kids to be leaders in the kitchen, providing tools and solutions for them to learn to cook in a safe space with little to no help from parents. At the Step Stool Chef, the kids are the chefs, parents are the assistants.”

SideChef Premium is an immersive cooking subscription service that offers home cooks hundreds of recipes, tips, and behind the scenes knowledge from world-renowned chefs and culinary influencers. It is available for $4.99/month or $49.99/year and allows home cooks to unlock recipes from major culinary creators, explore new cuisines, and transport authentic flavors from around the world into the comfort of their own kitchen.

“In these uncertain times, what is certain is that home cooking has become an essential part of everyday life, even for kids, and we are dedicated to persistently innovate with renowned partners like Step Stool Chef to help kids start their cooking journey with a strong foundation,” said Kevin Yu, CEO, and Founder of SideChef.

“Teaching the future generation life skills early on in their childhood development means we are fulfilling our mission to empower even the youngest of eaters everywhere to cook great food.” Step Stool Chef Cooking School for Kids, brought to you by SideChef Premium, is broken down into two class modules – Intro to Kid Cooking and Next Level Cooking. Within both modules, kids learn essential cooking skills as well as how to integrate math, science, and reading into the overall cooking experience. These classes are easy to follow, engaging, and most importantly, entertaining for kids.

“This unique partnership allows us to merge kid cooking, education, and technology. Step Stool Chef co-founder Toria Frederick explains. “As distant learning and homeschooling become a reality for many kids across America, these on-demand cooking classes are a great complement to the new reality of present-day at-home education. This is a great solution for families wanting to spend more time together that also supports kids learning to be more independent.”

Additionally, SideChef offers parents the ability to order all the ingredients they need right from the platform, through its partnership with Walmart and AmazonFresh. This enables subscribers to have a seamless home cooking experience with one-click shoppable recipes, personalized meal planning, and the ability to connect recipes to smart kitchen devices from several leading kitchen brands for a true all-in-one home cooking experience.

Beyond cooking classes for kids, SideChef Premium also includes 800+ exclusive on-demand recipe classes from world-renowned culinary experts, including the winner of Top Chef Masters, contestants from MasterChef and The Great British Baking Show, and more. Each culinary expert features instructional guidance with step-by-step videos, cooking techniques and tips, and voice-guided cooking.

McDonald's have paused walk-in takeaway services in the UK as new lockdown restrictions come into force. It means that dine-in meals and walk-in takeaways will not be available temporarily while it reviews safety procedures, it said.

Its UK boss said it will be testing "additional measures that may further enhance the safety of our takeaway service." Rival food chains Burger King, Subway, KFC and Pret A Manger are still offering takeaways in-store.

McDonald's UK and Ireland chief executive Paul Pomroy said that safety measures across the firm's 1,300 restaurants will be reviewed by an independent health and safety body and added that customers would be kept updated via the restaurant's app and its website. Drive-through and delivery services across the fast food chain will remain open.

Under new lockdown restrictions which came into force in England and Scotland this week, hospitality firms are allowed to offer takeaways and deliveries. But rules which had previously allowed takeaways or click-and-collect services for alcoholic drinks have been scrapped. Wales and Northern Ireland were already in lockdown, which meant that pubs, restaurants and cafes were restricted to takeaway-only too.

After the first nationwide lockdown in March, many chains including McDonald's, Burger King and Pret closed their doors to hungry customers. They gradually reopened with additional safety measures in place, such as plastic screens in front of the tills, hand sanitiser dispensers and restrictions on the number of customers allowed in at any one point. Some also pared back the number of dishes on offer.

Despite adapting their business models, many casual dining chains have been forced to make job cuts in the last year as lockdown restrictions hit sales.

The UK has reported a further 1,041 people have died with coronavirus, the highest daily death toll since April. It came as 62,322 new cases were recorded, the highest daily rise since mass testing began, as MPs debated England's lockdown.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said doctors could be forced to ration treatment without the new curbs. There are 30,074 Covid patients in UK hospitals, he said, as an ambulance trust told of severe pressure.

From humble beginnings on the streets of Nepal, to winning the nation’s hearts on Masterchef: The Professionals, chef Santosh Shah is putting Nepalese cuisine firmly on the map. 

Santosh’s talent, skill and passion has been laid bare for all to see as he competed on the UK’s most prestigious cookery competition, Masterchef: The Professionals, coming in second place against 32 other professional chefs. 

Santosh shone a light on Nepalese cuisine in all its glory, introducing the judges, food critics and esteemed chefs to flavours and ingredients they had never experienced before. His dishes wowed throughout the competition, with The Guardian’s Grace Dent noting ‘this is the most beautiful plate of food I’ve ever been served on Masterchef’ and esteemed judge Monica Galetti commenting, ‘it’s a real master of art to be able to use spices as he does.’ 

Santosh’s first culinary job was as a kitchen and commis chef in an Indian hotel when he was just 14. From then on, he worked tremendously hard, rising through the hospitality ranks in India, and eventually moving to the UK in 2010. Once in London, Santosh worked at some of the most renowned Indian kitchens, holding positions at Michelin-starred Benares restaurant and super trendy Dishoom, before becoming a Sous Chef at The Cinnamon Club and eventually Head Chef at its sister restaurant, Cinnamon Kitchen. 

Santosh worked at The Cinnamon Collection with Vivek Singh for three years, cooking for MP’s at The Cinnamon Club and City workers at Cinnamon Kitchen. He then took a position as Executive Chef at the five-star LaLit Hotel in London. 

What’s next? Santosh is looking forward to the future and what it may hold. His goal is to open a Nepalese restaurant in London and be awarded a Michelin star. For now, he will continue working on his skills, and learning from his mentors, to continue bettering himself and his cooking. 

Santosh says: “Coming second on Masterchef is a dream come true, and I could not be more honoured! It has been an incredible experience that I will never forget. 

“My mission now is to show the world how amazing Nepalese cuisine is, with vibrant and interesting ingredients and flavours that deserve to be enjoyed by the masses! 

“Cooking authentic Nepalese food on Masterchef and experimenting with dishes I grew up eating has been an absolute joy and I am so happy that the judges loved them! For now I am going to keep working hard, experimenting and learning and we’ll see what 2021 brings!” 

Hot off the press following the excitement of the NEW Katsu Chicken McNugget launching in the UK, the return of the Big Tasty was announcehitting McDonald’s restaurants from today  (December 30).

One of McDonald’s best loved menu items will be available with or without bacon.

Made with fresh 100% British and Irish beef, melty cheese made with Emmental, topped with tomato, lettuce, slivered onions and lashings of Big Tasty sauce, all on a sesame seed bun.

As the name says – it’s big, it’s tasty, and only available for 6 weeks - so hurry up if you want to get your hands on one.

Available for a limited time only, the NEW Katsu Curry Chicken McNuggets are match made in heaven and everything you didn’t know you needed until now. Now hitting McDonald’s restaurants, they are the tastiest way to wave goodbye to 2020 and start the new year as you mean to go on!

100% chicken breast meat in a crispy Katsu Curry panko breadcrumb coating, served with our classic Sweet Curry dip – need we say more?

Last but definitely not least, the signature limited edition Galaxy Salted Caramel McFlurry will also be making its return, and will be available in both mini and full sizes.

The perfect combination of soft dairy ice cream with pieces of creamy Galaxy chocolate and a swirl of caramel sauce means it is a very popular choice, so make sure you can get one while it is available for 6 weeks.

Sitting in the foothills of the Helan Mountains, Emma Gao runs the Silver Heights winery and vineyards in China's Ningxia province, about 1,000 km (620 miles) west of Beijing and where it's dry and sunny with mild temperatures in summer and plenty of irrigation from the Yellow River.

Still, the winters are so bitterly cold that the vines need to be buried under 30cm (12in) of soil late in the year so that they make it through to the next season.

Wines from the region have grown in popularity in China, and business is good for Silver Heights. A medium-sized winery, it produces up to 200,000 bottles a year and exports to 15 countries, in addition to its home market. In fact, Chinese wine is having a moment, domestically. While foreign wine is often regarded as more prestigious, under this year's lockdowns Chinese drinkers have increasingly sought out home-grown wines.

Why has this been the case? And will Chinese wine maintain its increased popularity in its home market after the Covid-19 pandemic ends, or will drinkers switch back to imports?

According to industry analysts Wine Intelligence, there has been a shift to buying more domestic bottles in most wine-producing countries this year.

Nowhere has this been more pronounced than in China, where 54% of respondents to a Wine Intelligence survey in August said they were now buying more Chinese wine compared to pre-pandemic levels. "There is a dramatic rise in the consumption of local wine this year," says sommelier and wine educator Roger Chow, from Xiamen in Fujian province. One possible reason, he thinks, is that people switched because imported wine simply became trickier to find due to the pandemic.

Wine import volumes into China slumped 32% in the first half of 2020 compared to the previous year, according to industry figures. Imports by value also declined sharply over the same period, down 31% to $752m (£565m). But according to Janet Wang, author of The Chinese Wine Renaissance, it's unlikely to account for the entire change, because most stores and distributors would have had months worth of existing imported stock. Instead, she thinks the shift is about Chinese producers being savvy enough to sense an opportunity.

Ms Wang says: "Anecdotally, you do hear people saying 'we're seeing a lot more promotions around Chinese wine, or a lot of distributors are taking up Chinese wine, or inquiring about Chinese wine'."  For many years, expats in China turned up their nose at the local wines, and as recently as five years ago one Chinese executive even candidly admitted his company's wines were "not very good".

It's not unusual for a young wine industry to endure some sniping from better established rivals overseas. Even Australian wines - which now account for around A$3bn ($2.2bn; £1.6bn) in exports a year - were famously derided as "Chateau chunder" by British comedy troupe Monty Python.

Some Chinese winemakers have sought to get around this reputational issue by partnering with European wineries and in some cases making their labels look similar to European brands. But according to Daxue Consultants - a market research group which (among other things) helps Chinese winemakers with their branding and marketing - some wineries now want to play up their connection to China.

"When we look at the label, some can be very westernised in style. The other side is quite interesting. They're more like localising or integrating Chinese elements," says Daxue's Yuwan Hu.

Ms Wang says that in recent years the general quality of Chinese wine has greatly improved. And in fact, the best Chinese wines have been winning competitions for even longer. She also points out that some Chinese winemakers have been trying to cater to the national palate, which comes from the county's well-established food culture. "So straight away, some of the more astute producers were saying 'this is quite a sophisticated market in terms of the palate'," she says.

Ms Gao, who learned winemaking in France's Bordeaux region, agrees that if there's a shift towards Chinese wine, it is because of higher standards, and producers who know their market.

She says: "I believe the quality of Chinese wine keeps improving.  And this has been matched by a new generation of wine lovers that are more adventurous, proud of their Chinese heritage."

Ben Luker, from Wine Intelligence, says that the pandemic has also been a catalyst for Chinese consumers to trust domestic products more.

He says: "Trust in domestic produced wine, and even trust in imported wine, has always been something that's very much a challenge to the industry, because there was always that fear that it was counterfeit."

A sure fire way to distinguish between ‘locals’ and ‘foreigners’ at a Caribbean dinner table is to listen out for the request for ‘pepper sauce,’ a hot and tangy flavouring that is typically made of the indigenous Scotch Bonnet, otherwise known as Scotty Bon, Scotchy, Bonney Pepper or scientifically, Capsicum Chinense. The Scotch Bonnet is the main commercial variety of pepper in the region, having achieved this status through a process of repeated selection based on aroma, pungency, flavour, yield, and disease and pest tolerance.

Originally cultivated by the Taino Indians, the distinctly Caribbean flavour of the fiery hot condiment is used to make a variety of value added products such as hot pepper sauce, jerk seasoning, pepper mash, dried pepper, scotch bonnet chocolate truffles, pepper powder, hot ketchup, pepper infused peanut butter, pepper jams and jellies, salsas and pickles. With a heat rating of 100,000-350,000 scoville units, the scotch bonnet can be up to 40 times hotter than a typical jalapeño pepper.

High levels of capsaicin, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, most B vitamins (particularly vitamin B6), iron, copper, magnesium and potassium provide a number of benefits including heart health, weight loss, and congestion relief. “Scotch Bonnet Peppers are the “back roads” that lead to the same destination,” says Chef Peter Ivey of The Reggae Chefs, of the tear-inducing Caribbean flavour. “They are the roads that your parents told you not to walk down alone at night until you were all grown up.”

“The Scotch Bonnet pepper can be dangerously deceptive, as its distinct aroma can lull you into lowering your guard,” Ivey continues. “It’s prowess in deception lies in its ability to either tinge your tongue with sweetness or take traditional Caribbean flavours to heights matched only by the peaks in cock pit country, Jamaica where they are abundantly grown.”

Traditional curry goat and thick Caribbean soups are elevated with the ‘Scotchie’s’ presence, and rice and peas is just “rice and some peas” without the tail of a scotch bonnet pepper peeking out from under a few rice grains. Escoveitch fish would be relegated to simply fried fish without the Scotch Bonnet’s tangy flavour and no self-respecting Caribbean person wants a jerk sauce made without a bright yellow, orange or red Scotch Bonnet ‘flag’, indicating that appropriate caution must be taken.

It is no wonder that Scotch Bonnet has become one of the biggest trends in international food, claiming the ‘hot’ spot of the first trend listed by The Happy Foodie in its “10 food trends to look out for in 2020”, a mention on the list of Uren Food Ingredients’ “2021 Global Food Trends” and a hyper-regional food trend on New Zealand’s Par Avion “Top 25 Food Trends for 2020”. Jamaica is the biggest player in the regional market, with top agro-processors including GraceWalkerswoodSpur Tree Spices and Jamaica’s leading pepper sauce producer, Gray’s Pepper Products Limited, with approximately 60 per cent of its products destined for the export market.

Popular brands in the region include Gray’s hot sauce out of Jamaica, Baron’s Blazing hot sauce which is manufactured in St. Lucia and Grenada, Matouk’s hot pepper sauce of Trinidad & Tobago, Windmill Products Hot Pepper Sauce from Barbados and FIYAH sauces by Tomfoodery Kitchen & Bar in the Cayman Islands. Scotch Bonnet is in such high demand by both the Caribbean domestic and export markets that, at a 2018 meeting of the Jamaica Agro processors Association (JAPA), members complained of a lack of the famous pepper as a raw material for sauces. The supply at the time could only meet about 55 per cent of the demand for sauce production.

Jamaican export sales of the incendiary condiment are reflective of the growing demand. Exports of hot pepper sauce totalled $4,453,019 in 2019. Between 2013 and 2017, the export of fresh hot peppers increased by 713 per cent and 302 per cent for semi-value added. Of all the value added products created from the pungent pepper, none are more popular than traditional Caribbean sauces and condiments, including the famous hot sauce or as it is known in the region, pepper sauce.

According to regional trade and investment promotion agency, Caribbean Export, the market for Caribbean sauces and condiments is worth $1.49 billion, having grown in value by 16.8 percent between 2019 and 2020. Globally, the hot sauce market is projected to reach $ 5.9 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.2 per cent (2020-2025). (Imarc group)

Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), a promotional agency for export and investment in Jamaica’s local and international private sector, is currently in dialogue with investors who are interested in growing the hot peppers on a large-scale on-island. It is also working with other government agencies through a Pepper Value Chain Task Force (managed by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica) to identify goods made from the Scotch Bonnet pepper and a strategy to facilitate the production of these goods.

Diane Edwards, President of JAMPRO, said: “With more investments into the sector, Jamaica will be able to meet the large demand that exists for the peppers in their natural state, as well as pepper mash which can be used to make sauces, seasonings and other products.”

“The next step for Jamaica is to create more value-added products from Scotch Bonnet peppers. This will not only have a positive impact on the economy by increasing export sales and creating jobs, but it will also diversify our exports in the agribusiness sector.”

Saturday December 19 is set to be the most hungover day of the Christmas party season, as research has revealed that Friday December 18 will be the evening that Brits are planning to participate in virtual Christmas drinks via video call (49%) or meet up with friends outside for a festive tipple (59%). 

Subway are anticipating a boom in brunch and lunch deliveries this Saturday and are expecting to stock up on coffee and working double-time to meet the rush of delivery orders to help those of us with fuzzy-heads to fix. 

The new study by Subway polled 2,000 British adults and pinpoints tomorrow (Friday December 18) as the most popular day for virtual office Christmas parties and festive pre-Christmas get-togethers with friends outdoors, meaning that a large proportion of Brits are set to wake up with sore heads on 19th. 65% of Brits are planning on super-charging their pre-Christmas celebrations, admitting they will be consuming more festive tipples than ever before. 

Menu items Subway expects Brits to be ordering on Saturday December 19 include the Mega Meat Sub and Meatball Marinara Sub as sore-headed Brits look to soak up their Christmas drinks with a savoury sandwich fix. Vegetarians and vegans alike also admitted to craving food that was hot and filling the morning after, with over a third of vegetarians (38%) ordering meals covered in melted cheese, followed by toasted sandwiches (30%).

Whilst majority of Brits look to feel better with hot and meaty food items, a third of Brits (36%) confessed to craving something light and fresh to help rid them of their hangover guilt, though the first thing 40% of us reach for is a coffee for that morning caffeine fix. 

Over half (55%) of Brits also admit to planning their next-day hangover meals and snacks the night before to prepare themselves, with a bacon roll (40%) and hash browns (30%) named as the top food items that eases hangover pains, followed by sandwiches with melted cheese (24%) and sweet treats like chocolate (19%) and cookies (16%). 

The research also revealed that 72% of us prefer being in complete silence the morning after, with three quarters (75%) of Brits confessing they would order a takeaway to soak up their hangover, rather than visiting a store or restaurant as they find it too loud and busy. 

Subway also revealed its top selling Subs this time last year, stating hungry Brits were soaking up their 2019 hangovers with the Italian B.M.T., Steak & Cheese, Chicken Tikka, Tuna and Meatball Marinara Subs. 

Angelina Gosal, Head of Marketing UK & Ireland at Subway said: We want to be there to help guests suffering on Christmas Struggle Street this ‘Shattered Saturday’ - available for delivery straight to your door, to enjoy in the quiet of your own home, our fully customisable range of subs, wraps and salads means you can pick exactly what you’re craving! From comforting carbs to healthier options, Subway’s extensive range will satisfy everyone’s needs”. 

In response to the findings, Subway is launching a ‘Shattered Saturday SOS’ (Send Out Subs) campaign where, from 15th December, Brits planning for a ‘Shattered Saturday’ can share how they plan to be spending the day via social media, to be in with the chance of receiving a Sub delivery by using the hashtag #sendoutsubs.  

The best Shattered Saturday SOS calls are set to be rewarded with a free fresh and delicious Sub delivery through one of Subway’s three delivery partners - Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats. Subway are choosing people at random, so you can join the #SendOutSubs conversation by visiting Subway’s Twitter channel (@SubwayUK). 

Almost half of the UK plans to order a takeaway meal on Christmas Day, according to new research.

With the year drawing to a close and the countdown to Christmas officially beginning, the excitement is starting to fill the air. As people are planning their Christmas shopping, decorating their homes and prepping the kitchen ready for the traditional turkey with all the trimmings, not everyone is looking forward to that delicious dinner.

In fact, one in four Brits have said they are bored of the same traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas Day, according to new research published by food delivery app Foodhub. Almost half (49%) of the 2,000 Brits polled plan to order a takeaway on Christmas Day. Four in 10 claim this will save preparation time and 35% say it will save time on the washing up.

When it comes to the UK’s favourite festive takeaway food ordered on Christmas Day, Indian takeaway is ranked top (42%) followed narrowly behind by Chinese (39%) and then Pizza (28%). To reflect this, Foodhub has now produced a limited edition festive-flavoured musical pizza-box that plays a special seasonal Christmas jingle when the lid is opened. Anyone who orders a pizza from Foodhub over the Christmas period stands a chance of having their pizza delivered in one of the special musical boxes.

Wil Chung, Foodhub spokesman, said: “We produced our Christmas-themed musical pizza boxes to reflect not only one of the favourite Christmas Day takeaway options but also to help put a seasonal smile on our customers faces. It’s been a difficult year for everyone and we wanted to do something that would help get people in a festive mood.

“It is no surprise that, after such a difficult 12 months, more people are turning to takeaway food this year either -  the average household spends over six hours cooking and preparing the Christmas dinner, according to our data, with 30% spending between four to five hours and a further 20% spending two to three hours preparing the main Christmas Day meal.”

Hosting a festive feast for the entire family isn’t cheap, as the average household spends £75 on food and drink for Christmas day, with 15% spending up to £50 and 10% splashing the cash on £150 worth of tasty treats.

Wil Chung added: “As more and more people are becoming bored of the traditional Christmas dinner, we’re noticing an increase in takeaway orders. Cooking and preparing a dinner for your loved ones can be a stressful affair, especially on the busiest day of the year. So, it comes as no surprise that more people are turning to takeaways to save the time and stress that comes with a traditional turkey and all the trimmings.

“With the average household spending up to £75 on their festive feast, Foodhub are here to bring the cost of eating way down. Unlike our competitors, we don’t charge takeaway/restaurants commission fees, which makes it cheaper for them and for you, as they can offer better prices then the likes of Just Eat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo.”


The new survey data shows millennials are the most likely group to order a takeaway on Christmas Day (17%) compared to those over 45 (7%), and pizza is their preferred choice (45%).  They are also prone to ordering a takeaway as a late in the day meal or supper (36%).

So, which area of the UK fancies a change this Christmas?

People across the West Midlands are the most bored of the traditional Christmas dinner (16%) compared to the rest of the country, 66% of people in Wolverhampton claimed they are bored of the tradition, whereas people in Aberdeen would prefer to order a takeaway as it’ll save on washing up (55%).

Nearly half of Glasgow would consider ordering a takeaway on the holiday (47%), compared to just 11% of people in Portsmouth.

When it comes to who spends the longest amount of time preparing the Christmas feast, a whopping seven hours are spent by people in Swansea compared to just five hours in Aberystwyth.

Wil Chung added: “Our survey showed some distinct regional variations on our takeaway ordering habits. For instance, the region of Yorkshire has ordered a takeaway meal multiple times more than the rest of the nation.

“People in Coventry would be prepared to spend the most on a takeaway over Christmas (£54) compared to people in Gloucester who would spend just £20.”

Foodhub is also planning to give away a number of these festive musical pizza boxes plus other Foodhub surprises to customers in a special Christmas competition due to be launched on its Facebook page in the next week.

Cheesecake has been voted Britain’s favourite cake, according to new research revealed to celebrate National Cake Day (November 26th).

Cheesecake scooped 42% of the vote in a national poll conducted by food delivery app Foodhub, narrowly beating Chocolate cake (41%) Victoria sponge (32%) and the Brownie (31%).

Bakewell Tart (27%) and Christmas Cake (24%) are amongst the nation’s other choices with souffle being the least popular with only 3% of the vote.

The study shows that 20% of the nation admits they eat cake every week, with a further 20% saying they now eat it 2-3 times a week.

Thirty per cent of the nation confess they eat cake as a regular snack in-between meals, with 20% having cake around dinner time and 15% having it at supper time. And though four in 10 Brits eat cake whenever they want, 30% save it as a treat for special occasions with only 13% having it as a dessert or pudding after a meal

Wil Chung, Foodhub spokesman, said: “Brits love their cake. On average the UK is willing to spend £2.74 on a slice of cake, with 19% happy to spend up to £5 per slice if the cake is good enough. 

“Most people we quizzed say cakes are more popular now than 10 years ago because they are more readily available in cafes than they used to be and the shops have better selection than 10 years ago.

“The pace of modern life means that many say they don’t have time to make cakes so they prefer to buy their cake. And that is reflected in the fact that 14% admit they eat more cake than they did 10 years ago.

“One in 10 Brits love their cake so much they’re reluctant to share it with anyone but, it’s refreshing to see that 42% of the country would share their last piece of cake with their partner, 18% with their child and 7% with their best friend.”

So how do we like our cake? Well, over a third of the nation prefers their cake plain (37%) but a quarter of us enjoy it with cream and just one in 10 Brits have it with custard. Cake with icing (34%) narrowly beats cake without icing (33%) as the UK’s preference.

Women are the UK’s main cake aficionados, according to the Foodhub poll of 2,000 adults. Not only do women eat more cake than men on a weekly basis, more of them also prefer to snack between meals on cake than their male counterparts.

Men, however, are more likely to share cake with their partner (48%) than women (37%).

So, which area of the UK is the most cake-friendly?

People in Yorkshire eat cake the most, according to the data -  2-3 times a week, with people in East Anglia eating cake the least.

And there are other regional variations too. People in Brighton have revealed angel cake to be their favourite cake, whereas Liverpudlians prefer apple pie and people in Aberdeen rank carrot cake as their top choice.

Wil Chung added: “Our survey showed some distinct regional variations on our national cake eating habits. For instance, cake fans in Leeds are willing to pay the most for a slice of cake, £3.05 compared to Wolverhampton who will pay the least, on average £2.25 per slice.

“People in Gloucester say they eat more cake now than they used to, whereas people in Cambridge say they are eating less. Plymouth is the least likely to share cake with anyone compared to people in Coventry who are most likely to share their cake.” 

Britain’s top 10 cakes are:

  1. Cheesecake (42%)
  2. Chocolate Cake (41%)
  3. Victoria Sponge (32%)
  4. Brownie (31%)
  5. Lemon Cake (30%)
  6. Carrot Cake (29%)
  7. Bakewell (27%)
  8. Apple Cake/Pie (25%)
  9. Christmas Cake (24%)
  10. Black Forest Gateau (22%) 


Are you in loaf with baking?

Could you be in the class of 2021?

Applications for THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF are NOW open!

Who’s the best baker you know?

We’re looking for Britain’s best home bakers to enter the tent!

If you or someone you know is a smart cookie in the kitchen maybe it’s time to take a whisk and apply!


If you or someone you know is a talented home baker then apply now at or call 0207 067 4837 for an application form.


Closing date for applications is 23.59 on Sunday 6th December 2020.




We are closely monitoring the situation regarding Covid-19 and we are following the advice of Public Health England. As a result, we may adjust how or when we carry out auditions. The safety and welfare of everyone involved in our productions is always paramount.​


Tesco is expanding its food donation programme to help families eat more fresh fruit and vegetables over the winter. From November 16th, the supermarket will give any of the 500,000 families who use the weekly Healthy Start vouchers a £1 coupon to spend on fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables. Every time a customer hands over their vouchers at the checkout, they will automatically receive the money-off coupon to redeem off their next shop.  


Marcus Rashford’s Child Poverty Task Force, of which Tesco is a member, is currently pressing the government to increase the value of the Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week (from £3.10).  

Healthy Start is a government scheme to improve the health of low-income pregnant women and families on benefits and tax credits. Under the scheme, eligible families are provided with vouchers every week to spend on milk, fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables, fresh, dried, and tinned pulses, and infant formula milk. In addition to funding the £1 coupon, Tesco is donating an additional £4million of food to FareShare to support it through the current period of record demand.  Combined with its regular food donations through its Community Food Connection scheme, Tesco has made food donations worth more than £60m in the last year. Earlier this year, the supermarket provided £15m of food to FareShare and the Trussell Trust to support those who needed help at the start of the pandemic.    


Jason Tarry, Tesco UK & ROI CEO, said: “Right now, many families are facing hardship as a result of the pandemic and we want to help by providing nutritious food to those who need it. In addition to topping up the Healthy Start vouchers by £1 each week, we’re providing an extra £4m of food to FareShare in the run up to Christmas, on top of our regular monthly food donations, to support food banks and community groups with vital supplies at a time when so many people are relying on them.”  

Marcus Rashford said: "We all have a role to play in the community and I'm thrilled that another one of the Taskforce members has proactively stepped up to support our most vulnerable in their time of need. Increasing the value of the Healthy Start vouchers is a key ask of this Taskforce but in the true spirit of togetherness, and with true understanding of need, Tesco has not waited for action but, instead, has taken action. I'm extremely grateful as this move will make a big difference to the lives of nearly 500,000."  


Lindsay Boswell, chief executive at FareShare, said: “Demand for food has more than doubled at FareShare as a result of the pandemic and 90% of the charities we serve expect demand to remain the same as crisis levels or increase through the winter. That’s why we are so grateful to Tesco for helping us to support families in need and the extensive support they are offering which will make a big difference to so many people’s lives during the tough winter months ahead.”  

Henry Dimbleby, independent lead, National Food Strategy, said: “The problem of food poverty is real and serious, and the pandemic is only increasing that pressure. That’s why one of the recommendations of the National Food Strategy is for the government to increase the value of the Healthy Start Vouchers – a great way to help children get the fruit and vegetables they need to thrive.  At such a critical time, it is wonderful news that Tesco is stepping in to help their customers directly.”  

Tesco is a member of the Child Poverty Task Force, formed by Marcus Rashford, and continues to support his campaign for free school meals for every child that needs them, at any time.  


A glut of sugar has prompted India’s industry body to start a campaign to encourage Indians to eat more. The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said it wants to bust myths about sugar and its health effects.


On average, Indians eat around 19kg a year, which is well below the global average.

Still, the country is the world’s biggest consumer of the sweetener overall. India’s production is expected to rise by 13% this year to 31m tonnes but the government has indicated that it might stop export subsidies aimed at clearing surpluses.


ISMA's new website features short articles with titles such as “Eat, Drink & Be Healthy: A little sugar not all that bad”. The online campaign also includes social media posts and workshops, where celebrity chefs and health coaches discuss healthy living. It features recipes for sweets, and takes aim at artificial sweeteners, suggesting they don't help people lose weight and can have health consequences.


At the launch of the website, India’s food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey told local media that sugar’s reputation is not deserved.


“There are a lot of myths going around about sugar and sugar consumption without scientific basis,” he said.


The campaign takes a distinctly different approach to campaigns in other countries, which have pushed to reduce sugar consumption. Sugar is associated with a variety of health problems, such as obesity and diabetes.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) is particularly concerned about “free sugars” which are usually added to food and drink by manufacturers, but are also found in honey and fruit juice. About 50 million farmers in India are engaged in cane farming, with millions more working in mills or engaged in the transportation of cane.


The government has taken an interventionist approach, using subsidies to help sell Indian sugar overseas, an approach that has been opposed by other sugar-producing nations.


One other way to get rid of excess sugar is to use it for fuel, by turning it into ethanol.


The Indian Sugar Millers Association predicts ethanol production will increase from 1.9bn litres this year to 3bn litres in 2021.


It’s been about a year and a half since we last caught up with Don James and the crew at Jam N Vibez, and a lot has happened since then, not least the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Don isn’t one to rest on his laurels, and despite the hardships felt by all of the food industry during the last few months, Jam N Vibez have been at the heart of their community since the lockdowns began.

“During the pandemic we’ve been giving the Police and NHS 50% off meals, and every other week they can get a free meal,” explained Don, “We’ve been doing lots of charity work too, every day we give 45 meals to local cause Rugby House and have been since the beginning of the pandemic.”

It goes to show that unlike some businesses, Don has done exactly what he set out to do 17 months ago when we last spoke to him, to gel with the community, and give back to local good causes.

“We’re also part of the Police Community Group as well, so they share information with us, and they eat here too!”

As well as being on Foodhub, Just Eat and Deliveroo, Jam N Vibez have taken the leap into their own digital future.

“We decided as the restrictions got worse that more people would be staying at home so we refocused our efforts and decided to create our own app.”

The App, which is available on Android and iOS, gives you a 15% discount, as well as taking advantage of their Free Delivery within 10 miles, or Click and Collect in as soon as 15 minutes.

They have added new dishes to the menu too, bolstering their already strong line up of Caribbean staples like Rice & Peas, Oxtail, Jerk Chicken and Ackee & Saltfish, with new favourites including Pumpkin and Rice, Brown Stew Fish, Pepper Steak, Stuffed Fish and Cow Foot.

They even serve Lobster now on an order-only basis. Give them 15-20 minutes and you’ll have a perfect meal.

As always, the main selling point with Jam N Vibez has always been the fact that everything that they sell is made fresh daily, and it really shows in the quality and taste of their meals. You can be so sure of this, that every night, anything left over is also donated to Rugby House - a hostel in the local area.

“We’ve never been about the money, as long as we can pay our bills, we just love seeing the smiles on customers faces as they know they’re getting good food,” beamed Don. “we’re building a community and people know that we’re approachable and if they need to talk, they know where they can come.”

Don is also a local entrepreneur featured for his cousin Leroy Henry’s new book, about Young Entrepreneurship. “It teaches them about sales, profits etc, as well as being connected through QR code to audio recordings of every page for those who need the extra assistance, as well as further examples and explanations,” Leroy enthused.

“I’m working with Don as an entrepreneur to showcase exactly what an entrepreneur is, and that they come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life.”

The other new addition to Jam N Vibez is the resident Guest Celebrity Chef and Internet Sensation, Chef Kano. On Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday every week, you can catch Chef Kano making a new speciality dish every single week, which he features on his Instagram account ‘_jointstv_’.

“I started in in top hotels, top restaurants for 3-4 years, and I worked in Germany for a few years. Then I started my own business, and now people book me and I come cook for them at home, as well as these guest spots every week,” laughed Chef Kano.

“It can be anything, literally whatever my brain comes up with that day, it could be lobster tails, gourmet burgers, Hennessy wings, scallops, glazed salmon or prawns.”

But what you can be sure of, is that the food you are getting is top notch in both quality, preparation and execution. Check out the Jam N Vibez App, or get yourself down to 300 Slade Rd, Birmingham B23 7LU, and tell them The Phoenix sent you!

Restaurants at St. Lucia’s Bay Gardens Resorts have not only carefully reopened their tables, they are also supporting nearby eateries by inviting them to make their food available to guests through the resorts’ Dine Around program.


Sanovnik Destang, Executive Director of the locally owned properties in Rodney Bay, said since resuming regular operations in July, “We have maintained all aspects of our revolutionary All-Inclusive Experience package which is enhanced by the Rodney Bay Dine Around plan.”


While St. Lucia's Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) protocols only allowed for takeaway or delivery at independent restaurants during this first phase of its reopening of the tourism sector, the Dine Around program has facilitated the delivery of more than 300 food orders to the resorts from top local restaurants to date, “contributing over EC$35,000 (US$13,000) into the local restaurant sector in the past two months,” reported Destang, for whom the term ‘all-inclusive’ means reaching beyond the walls of the popular hotel group. 


“Of course, Bay Gardens has excellent restaurant choices for guests to enjoy, such as our Hi-Tide restaurant, a recent recipient of the Travelers’ Choice award, but we wanted to ensure our local partner restaurants could share in the benefits of our unique brand of ‘all-inclusive’ tourism that truly includes everyone,” said Destang. 


Guests who book for seven or more nights under the All-Inclusive Experience have access to the Dine Around program. For three nights out of their stay, they are offered a choice of fine dining restaurants that include Indian, Italian, French, seafood and sushi. Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner at the resorts’ restaurants are included as well as all drinks, including premium alcoholic beverages.  


Destang is proud of how Bay Gardens team members, the majority of whom are St. Lucian and led by a predominantly female executive management team, have supported and implemented the program. "Our well-trained staff ensure the food and meal delivery process is carried out with careful attention to COVID-19 protocols and guidelines to protect the health and safety of our valued guests, team members and the local public,” he stated.


Not only does the program expand menu options for Bay Gardens guests, it also provides a cross-training opportunity for chefs to sharpen their skills which Destang said, “encourages the exchange of favorite recipes among the food preparers and the sharing of best practices.” 


This culinary exchange, where chefs learn from one another in the kitchen, has caught on and produced mouthwatering results. “We have added exciting fusions of Caribbean and international dishes to our menus. All restaurants in the program will offer cross-training as a requirement, along with staff discounts to further foster the spirit of village tourism,” said Destang.


Some of the new Bay Gardens menu items, which have been inspired by the Dine Around program, include Breadfruit Arancini, Kingfish Rice Cake with Avocado Aioli, Seafood Mofongo, Butter Chicken, Dasheen Vichyssoise, and Soursop Cheesecake. 


Under the All-Inclusive Experience holiday, guests also receive one free spa treatment per room each day, unlimited complimentary passes to Splash Island Water Park, complimentary nonmotorized water sports, an in-room starter pack featuring refreshments and snacks, and complimentary Wi-Fi.