Colors: Green Color
Colors: Green Color

The 2019 National Fish & Chip Awards are now open for entry with the quest now on to find the champion businesses that will be crowned at the grand final ceremony in London in January next year.

Run by Seafish, the public body that supports the £6bn UK Seafood Industry, the National Fish & Chip Awards are widely regarded as the Oscars of the fish and chip world, with 14 different award categories recognising the best of the best.

As well as the fish and chips, the awards celebrate operators who run their businesses sustainably, display marketing innovation and focus on staff and product development.

To find the best in the industry, a team of experienced judges travel the UK to mystery dine and appraise the operational practices of respective fish and chip businesses.

Fish and chips aren’t just one of the UK’s favourite foods; they’re an institution.

From being one of the few fares not rationed during the Second World War, to a favourite snack of The Beatles, fish and chips are an integral part of British culture.

For the past 30 years Seafish has celebrated the best of the best across the UK’s fish and chips sector, including takeaways, restaurants, pubs, cafes, canteens and mobile operators who serve up the tastiest and most sustainable fish and chips.

Andy Gray, Trade Marketing Manager at Seafish, said: “The annual awards program provides an excellent opportunity to reward and celebrate the businesses and individuals throughout the UK that are serving fantastic fish and chips and providing customers with great eating and dining experiences.

As a nation, we eat in the region of 382 million portions of fish and chips every year so shops and restaurants that are successful in the awards can take pride in the fact that they are amongst the crème de la crème when it comes to fish and chip businesses.

“Everyone has a favourite fish and chip shop and we are asking the public to make sure their favourite gets the recognition it deserves by encouraging them to enter the awards.”

Being judged as a finalist in the awards, particularly in the flagship Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award, has seen businesses experience turnover increases by as much as 100%. This year’s Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award champions, father and son David and Nick Miller from Millers Fish & Chips in Haxby, North Yorkshire have been on a roll since picking up the title in January, going on to experience success in the in the Taste of England category as part of the recent Visit England Awards for Excellence.

They said: “When we heard Millers Fish & Chips had been announced as the UK’s best fish and chip takeaway it was a really special moment for our family. It felt absolutely amazing and the feedback from our customers, industry friends and partners ever since has been nothing short of incredible."

“We’ve been busier than ever before since the award win. It’s had a huge impact on our business. Most importantly, it’s bringing people from all over the country – and even abroad – to our shop in Haxby. To speak to customers and learn that they’ve travelled many hundreds of miles just to sink their teeth into delicious fish and chips makes us feel really proud to serve them."

The World Cheese Awards will visit Norway for the first time this year, to form part of a brand new festival, The Norwegian Food Nation, taking place in Bergen on Friday 2 and Saturday 3 November. In partnership with HANEN, an organisation which champions the best that the Norwegian countryside has to offer, the Guild of Fine Food will stage the planet's largest cheese-only competition at the iconic Grieg Hall in the heart of the city.

With more nations represented than ever before in 2017, this year's competition is set to grow once again, with a record-breaking 3,500 entries expected for the 31st edition of the awards. The world will be watching live on WCA TV as 230 experts from every corner of the globe judge all the entries in a single day, nestled between the North Sea and the Seven Mountains that frame the city.

Away from the awe-inspiring sight and smell of entries from six continents being nosed, tasted and graded, The Norwegian Food Nation will be shining a spotlight on the quiet culinary revolution that has taken place in Norway over recent years. Featuring a food festival, conference sessions, presentations and tasting tours, the two-day event will give the country's producers and chefs a platform to showcase their food and drink on a world stage.

Following the huge surge in interest for Norwegian cheese in 2016, when Kraftkar from Tingvollost was named World Champion Cheese in San Sebastián, this year's awards has been brought to Bergen with the support of Norway's Minister of Agriculture and Food, Jon Georg Dale, and the Bergen city government. Already designated as a UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy, Bergen is now preparing to host some of the world's top palates and food people for an epic celebration of all things cheese.

City Year UK is delighted to announce it has bagged £1,000 from Tesco’s Bags of Help community grant scheme which will support its work in the West Midlands. Bags of Help is run in partnership with environmental charity Groundwork, and sees grants raised from the sale of carrier bags awarded to thousands of local community projects every year. Since launching in 2015, it’s provided more than £48 million to over 13,000 local community projects.

Millions of shoppers have voted in Tesco stores up and down the country and it can now be revealed that City Year UK has been awarded £1,000 in the West Midlands. Work will now begin on bringing the project to life. The money will go towards City Year UK’s Book Buddies programme, which is aimed at improving literacy in schools by supporting the charity’s young volunteer mentors who are serving full-time as mentors, tutors and role models.

Gordon Higginson, City Year UK’s Director of Service Excellence, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded this funding for our Book Buddies programme. Our volunteers have dedicated a year of their lives to tackling low social mobility and educational inequality and the support from Tesco will allow our literacy programme to benefit more pupils in the West Midlands.”

Alec Brown, Tesco’s Head of Community, said: “Bags of Help has been a fantastic success and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from customers. It’s such a special scheme because it’s local people who decide how the money will be spent in their community. We can’t wait to see the projects come to life.”

Voting ran in stores throughout January and February with customers choosing which local project they would like to get the top award using a token given to them at the checkout. Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups each time they shop. Every other month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions are awarded funding.

Groundwork’s National Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury, said: “Bags of Help continues to enable local communities up and down the UK to improve the local spaces and places that matter to them. The diversity of projects that are being funded shows that local communities have a passion to create something great in their area. We are pleased to be able to be a part of the journey and provide support and encouragement to help local communities thrive.”

Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities. Anyone can nominate a project and organisations can apply online.

Costa Coffee has today announced it will become the first ever coffee chain in the UK to commit to recycling the same volume of cups it puts onto the market in a bid to tackle the challenge of coffee cup recycling and to stop them ending up in landfill.

The UK's favourite coffee shop will recycle up to 500 million coffee cups a year by 2020, the equivalent of its entire yearly sales of takeaway cups and a fifth of the 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups consumed as a nation each year.

Takeaway coffee cups can be recycled but they must be collected correctly and sent to the right recycling plants. Today's announcement will see Costa pay to make sure takeaway coffee cups are collected and sent to those paper mills which can recycle them. There are currently 3 UK paper mills (James Cropper, ACE UK and DS Smith*) that can recycle these cups and from today they will move from recycling 14m** cups to 100m this year.

Costa will pay a supplement of £70 to the waste collectors for every tonne of cups collected***. This takes the value of one tonne of cups**** from being worth on average £50 to £120, a 140% increase, making it commercially and financially attractive for waste collectors to put in place the infrastructure and processes to collect, sort and transport coffee cups to recycling plants, meaning fewer cups will end up in landfill. Today's announcement launches in partnership with five national waste collectors – Veolia, Biffa, Suez, Grundon and First Mile.

Dominic Paul, Managing Director for Costa, said: “Costa is putting its money where its mouth is to find an immediate solution to increasing the volume of takeaway coffee cups being recycled in the UK. It also dispels the myth that coffee cups can't be recycled!”

“Following today's announcement up to 100 million cups will be recycled this year alone and if the nation's other coffee chains sign up, there is no reason why all takeaway cups could not be recycled by as early as 2020.

“At Costa we want to guarantee our customers that if they throw their cup into the right recycling bin it will get recycled, and today's announcement is a major step towards that happening. We have set our own target to recycle the same volume of takeaway cups we use every year and call on other cup retailers to join and help to build a dynamic market for takeaway coffee cup recycling.”

Commenting on today's announcement Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey, said:

“Congratulations Costa on taking this significant step to help coffee lovers do the right thing and increase recycling. We all have a responsibility to our environment and this is a significant step by a British business which should dramatically increase the number of disposable coffee cups we recycle in this country.

“We want to help companies become plastic free and through our 25 Year Environment Plan we are putting in place the ambitions to encourage all of us to play our part in ending the scourge of plastic waste in our natural environment.”

Costa was the first coffee retailer to put in place a nationwide in-store recycling scheme, accepting any branded paper cup, and to date has recycled 14 million cups since February 2017. Today's announcement will work alongside Costa's ongoing commitments to increase the use of reusable cups, whilst working with a number of designers and cup manufacturers, looking at how to minimalize and eventually eliminate plastic in takeaway cups.

Costa also offers a 25p discount to all customers that use a reusable cup and recently announced that it will remove all plastic straws from its stores. As part of Whitbread PLC, Costa was part of the first major UK business to sign up to the 'Refill' plastic water bottle scheme, providing over 3,500 refill stations across the country.

Puerto Vallarta is home to over 300 restaurants. From modest eateries managed by local Vallartenses to fine-dining restaurants offering the latest international fusions to street tacos, Puerto Vallarta’s abundance of cuisines has made it Mexico’s gastronomy beach destination. Those looking for a foodie challenge and try as many of the destination’s restaurants as possible will find a bargain with the city’s Restaurant Week, which will last 25 days with 59 participating restaurants in its 2018 edition.

Now on its 14th year, Restaurant Week will have a record number of participants and Vallarta Lifestyles Media Group, which organizes the gastronomic festival, has increased the number of days to provide a larger number of visitors to the destination the opportunity to taste more of the destination’s plethora of culinary offerings.

“One of the most common “should have” we hear from visitors to Puerto Vallarta is that they should have tried more of our restaurants,” said Javier Aranda Pedrero, Director of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board. “Restaurant Week allows visitors to taste great quality restaurants without breaking the bank. We are especially excited with this year’s participants as it includes many restaurants popular within the local community, which will provide visitors the opportunity to eat with Vallartenses.”

All participating restaurants will offer three-course menus (with three different options) at fixed prices (tips and beverages not included). This year, many of the participating restaurants will also offer three menu price categories.

This year’s 59 participating restaurants are: Agrodolce, Ambrosia Grill, Archie’s Wok, Azafrán, Barcelona Tapas, BARRIO BISTRO by Memo Wulff, Boccon Di Vino, Café des Artistes, Coco Tropical, Daiquiri Dick’s, Da Simone, De Cántaro, Di Vino Dante, Eishan Oriental Cuisine, El Arrayan, Florios, Fusion Gourmet, Gaby’s Restaurant Bar, Gaviotas, Hacienda San Angel, India Gate, Kaiser Maximilian, Katana Sushi & Bar, La Cappella, La Cigale French Bistro, La Leche, La Pancha, La Trattoria, Layla’s Restaurante, Mamá Sirena, Mark’s Bar & Grill, Matiz, Mérida Grill, Mikado, Nicksan, No Way José!, Oso’s Fish Market Restaurant, Pezlimon, Pizzeria La Dolce, Porto Bello, Restaurante Icú, River Café, Roberto’s Mexican Seafood, Sapori Di Sicilia, Seasons P.V., Serrano’s Meat House, Sí Señor Beach, Sushi Pop, Taste Restaurant @ Casa Cupula, Teresa Bar & Bistro, The Blue Shrimp, The Iguana, The Swedes, Tintoque, Trio Mediterranean, Tuna Blanca, Vallarta Factory, Vitea Oceanfront Bistro and Warique Restaurante.

A fun run with a tasty twist is coming to Cannon Hill Park for the first time to help raise vital funds for a local hospice.

Taking place on Saturday 28 April, ‘The Chocolate 5k’ – which is organised by Birmingham St Mary’s – is a run like no other, as participants race round the scenic park whilst indulging in chocolate treats.

Sweet-toothed Brummies can choose to run, jog or walk around the route, as they pick up branded goodies from a number of chocolate stations.

On finishing the course, runners will be rewarded with even more tasty treats, as they will be able to enjoy a gooey chocolate pot, as well as take home a commemorative medal.

Last year, The Chocolate 5k raised £25,000 for the hospice, which provides crucial care and support to local people living with life-limiting illness. The Selly Park-based charity is hoping to raise even more funds at the run this year, so that it can continue to provide its care at the hospice, in people’s homes and in the community.

Lucy Watkins, head of fundraising at Birmingham St Mary’s, said: “Whether you’re a running enthusiast or just have a sweet-tooth, The Chocolate 5k is a great way for you to enjoy tasty treats completely guilt-free. Every penny raised will go towards the hospice, so your generous support will ensure that we can continue to provide our free, vital services to families living across Birmingham and Sandwell.”

In addition to delicious goodies, participants can also enjoy face painting, raffles, and games at the park, as well as meet one of the world’s most famous chocolate makers – Willy Wonka.

The Chocolate 5k has recently been shortlisted for a national running award, making it into The Running Award’s top three ‘Best Charity Fun Runs in the UK’.

Waitrose has today committed to removing all takeaway disposable coffee cups from its shops by autumn 2018, saving more than 52 million cups a year.

Members of the supermarket's loyalty scheme, myWaitrose, will continue to have the option to enjoy a free tea or coffee from their shop's self serve machine as a thank you for shopping with them. In the coming weeks though they will be asked to bring their own reusable cup to use rather than being offered a disposable coffee cup when they go through the checkout.

Waitrose will initially remove disposable cups in nine branches* from 30 April to understand how to manage the changeover as smoothly as possible for customers before rolling it out across all stores in a phased programme by the autumn. Customers will be informed before the change comes into effect in their local shop.

Removing the cups further underlines the supermarket's commitment to reducing its impact on the environment and its use of plastics and packaging. It recently pledged to not sell any own label food in black plastic beyond 2019 - an earlier date than any other supermarket. It has also committed to make all own-label packaging widely recyclable (using the widely recycled logo), reusable, or home compostable by 2025.

Tor Harris, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing at Waitrose, says:

“We realise this is a major change, but we believe removing all takeaway disposable cups is the right thing to do for our business and are confident the majority of customers will support the environmental benefits. It underlines our commitment to plastic and packaging reduction and our aim is to deliver this as quickly as possible.”

As part of today's announcement, myWaitrose members will no longer be able to claim their free hot drink in its 180 in-store cafes; this is to avoid customers without a reusable cup (and therefore unable to use the self serve machines) putting increased pressure on its hospitality areas. Instead, myWaitrose members who purchase a tea or coffee in a cafe will be offered a choice of food options to enjoy for free or with a generous discount.

These will vary each month, but for the first month myWaitrose members will be able to choose from either soup, bircher muesli, almond croissant or a loaf cake slice to have for free with their beverage.​

Additionally, Waitrose has invested in training 800 Food Service Partners as baristas, to give an even better hospitality service in its cafes. The coffees available in the cafe will also be made using a 100% Arabica coffee bean, which is both Fairtrade and organic, for even better quality.

These changes to its cafe service will also first be made from 30 April in eight of the same shops* where disposable cups will be initially removed before taking effect in all branches with hospitality areas from 23 May. V

The retailer's commitment to reduce the impact plastic has on the environment will see all its cafes replacing plastic straws with paper versions from the end of April 2018. This means 600,000 straws a year will be converted to a home compostable material which is Forest Stewardship Council certified.

The supermarket has already announced that it will not sell packs of single-use plastic straws from September 2018. All Waitrose cafes offer non-plastic crockery and all drinks stirrers are made out of wood.

This builds on the industry leading steps Waitrose has already taken to reduce the risk of plastic reaching marine life. In September 2016 the retailer stopped selling items containing microbeads and exclusively sells paper stem cotton buds.

Waitrose has committed to making all its own-label packaging widely recyclable (using the widely recycled logo), reusable, or home compostable by 2025. Since 2009 it has reduced its overall packaging by nearly 50% and 80% of its packaging is widely recyclable.

Tor Harris, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing at Waitrose, said:

''Phasing out single-use plastic straws in our cafes and on shelves shows how seriously we are taking their impact on the environment.

''Plastic straws may seem insignificant but their impact on wildlife can be devastating. We hope this step will make a positive contribution to our environment.''

2018 has got off to a flying start for Devon's food and drink scene and building on the success of recent years it is fair to say that Devon's fabulous food and drink is no longer a secret. The county continues to grow in recognition as the place to turn to for the very best produce, thanks in no small part to Food Drink Devon and its members, who are continually helping to build this reputation and share the delights of Devon with a wider audience.

Barbara King, chair of the board of directors for Food Drink Devon, says: “We are delighted to see that Devon's food fame continues to grow year on year. This is reflected in our increased membership, an upsurge in entries to our awards and a much greater interest from outside the county than ever before, both nationally and internationally. We work really hard to fly the flag for Devon but our work is made easier by the growing number of outstanding hospitality businesses, excellent retailers and quality producers that call this county home.”

Food Drink Devon is a not-for-profit organisation with over 250 members and works tirelessly to increase the county's profile. The 2018 edition of its annual guide, which showcases its members and their businesses, will shortly be available across the county as well as in Exeter airport, Paddington train station and on the desks of key influencers nationwide. Meanwhile, its cherished awards are in their eighth year and it is anticipated that they will attract even more entrants than 2017's record-breaking numbers, with the closing deadline of 20th April fast approaching. Last year the judges tasted over 200 of the finest products and visited nearly 100 establishments across Devon to select the pick of the crop for a shortlist of just 60. This year, the awards' ceremony will be taking place on Monday 8th October, at Highbullen Hotel, Umberleigh, North Devon, hosted for the fourth year running by BBC Radio 2's fabulous food and drink expert, Nigel Barden.

In recent years Food Drink Devon has increased its focus on championing Devon beyond the county and has put its members centre stage at a number of major events in London and built relationships with key journalists and influencers to ensure that Devon's food fame is spread far and wide and that the keen interest that the county has experienced in recent years continues. Charlie Deuchar, owner of Bayards Cove Inn, says: “We have recently joined Food Drink Devon as a member and we have been overwhelmed by the support and exposure that they have given to our business. Just last week they took our brand to London and introduced it to over 30 national and international journalists! We are busy following up on some fantastic leads. Food Drink Devon has already exceeded our expectations. Nobody else is doing as much as them to put Devon firmly on the food map.”

Food Drink Devon represents a membership of like-minded businesses, dedicated to providing good quality local food and drink. It supports it membership through regular workshops and updates as well as promotional opportunities and events. Food Drink Devon is committed to continuously achieving its mission – to become a nationally recognised brand for outstanding sustainable food and drink.

Pineapples have suddenly become Britain's fastest growing fruit with demand at an all-time high.

Even sales of the 'marmite' of all pizzas, the Hawaiian, are soaring as shoppers make pineapples Britain's fastest-growing fruit.

In the last year demand for whole pineapples at Tesco has soared by nearly 15 per cent with more shoppers buying the fruit because of its versatility as an ingredient in main dishes, desserts and juices.

And it's not just the whole fruit itself that has become really popular – demand for it is rising across many other areas of the food and drink spectrum too.

Tesco has been responding by introducing new pineapple varieties, including prepared snacking slices for added convenience.

In the last year, Tesco has continued to help customers enjoy the fruit by offering a wide choice of pineapple products, seeing sales of:

  • Pineapple juice up by more than 20 per cent.
  • Hawaiian pizzas, traditionally the most divisive of pizzas – up by more than 15 per cent.
  • Snacking pineapple fingers up by 30 per cent.
  • Tinned pineapple chunks up by five per cent.
Tesco fresh pineapple buyer Morgan Jaquemet said:

“Pineapples have become the fruit taste of the moment and could soon rival the avocado as a once niche fruit suddenly gaining mainstream popularity.

“In the last few years we have seen demand jump because of the fruit's rising popularity as a versatile and healthy food – it's even made its way onto the BBQ in the summer months now.

“We've been focused on making it easy for our customers to enjoy this fruit, and have introduced a range of prepared snacking pineapple cut into finger sized shapes which are popular as a healthy lunchbox treat for schoolkids.

“Last year we even sold pineapples at Halloween as a rival to the pumpkin for kids to carve into a scary face.”

Another reason for the popularity of the fruit has been growing interest in healthy foods with pineapples containing good amounts of vitamin C. 80g of tinned or fresh pineapple is one of your five a day.

In the last two years pineapple production in Costa Rica, the leading supplier of the fruit to Europe and the USA has increased by nearly 10 per cent.

Sourdough is now so popular with British shoppers that it has become the UK's fastest growing bread variety – with demand for the hard-crusted, rustic styled bread soaring by nearly 40 per cent in the last year at Tesco.

Tesco now sells around 100,000 sourdough loaves a week and has just launched its first ever sourdough baguette in order to offer customers more choice at lunchtime.

In the last five years, Tesco has almost quadrupled its sourdough range to bring customers new varieties and meet demand.

Among the reasons for the strong growth are the rising popularity of speciality loaves and trendy brunch treats like avocado on sourdough.

Tesco bakery buyer Alice McConnell explains:

“Interest in this wonderfully tangy and chewy bread has grown spectacularly in the last few years and for those that still have not tried it there is nothing quite like hot, toasted sourdough and butter.

“As customer demand has grown, we now have 10 sourdough bread products on offer, including a baguette, roll, pitta bread and gluten free varieties.

“Instead of seeing bread as just something to toast or make a sandwich with, more people are beginning to appreciate it as a food to savour, and one that can have many different flavours and complex tastes.”

Thousands of tons of perfectly good food goes straight into the bin every year in what's being described as the on going scandal of Britain's biggest source of food waste.

The UKs waste management company BusinessWaste.co.uk has found through its own research that over 99% of bagged salads given away by takeaway food establishments are never eaten, with many thrown into waste bins unopened.

BusinessWaste.co.uk says that public waste bins nears some curry houses and takeaway kebab shops are often filled to overflowing with bagged salads as customers dump them at the first opportunity.

"We tried to find out who eats these salads, and we found literally nobody prepared to confess that they did," says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesman Mark Hall, "In our opinion, they're nothing but a huge waste of food. Thousands of tons going to waste."

BusinessWaste.co.uk asked hundreds (3500 people were involved in the 2018 survey) of takeaway food customers at several locations in the UK what they did with free salads given away as an accompaniment to curries or kebabs.

  • 94% Throw it in the bin without opening
  • 1% Put it in the fridge, and throw it away later
  • 6% Leave it in the shop or give it back to the delivery person
  • 0% Eat it
 

BusinessWaste.co.uk puts the reluctance of many people to eat salads from takeaways down to the mistaken perception that there's probably something wrong with it, or that it has been prepared in an unhygienic kitchen.

"A plastic bag's probably not the best way to present a salad, to be honest," says Mark Hall, "Customers have a mental image of the food being stuffed in there by bare hand, which it most certainly isn't. But it's a hard image for most people to shake."

However, that reason is the one most heard by BusinessWaste.co.uk when it asked customers why they avoided takeaway salads:

  • "I don't know where it's been."
  • "I've been told that it's dirty." / "... it's out of date." / "...they don't wash it."
  • "I might get food poisoning off it." / "I heard somebody good food poisoning off it."
  • "I hate salad."
The most pointed – and possibly the most telling - answer to the number of bagged salads found strewn outside town centre takeaways by waste disposal operators was:
  • "I'll tell you - Who wants a salad at pub closing time? Nobody, that's who."
BusinessWaste.co.uk says that takeaways should think twice before throwing in a bag of salad with an order. In fact, Mark Hall says they could easily slash waste by asking if the customer actually wants it.

"It's a very simple solution," says Hall, "And one that will save food establishments money and puts and end to the thousands of tons of food wasted every year."

And that's before we even think about hundreds of thousands unwanted plastic bags, says BusinessWaste.co.uk. "It's straight to landfill for most of them," Hall says, "And that's something we just can't keep doing these days."

While it may seem a minor issue at first glance, it's an important one as food security and conservation of resources becomes more important to the national economy, Business Waste concludes.

Mr Hall was impressed with the uptake in recycling “Although this is waste at its most stupid it costs businesses ten of £1000s and the environmental harm, I’m pleased to say this year the majority 78% have told us they put the food in the general waste bin and the plastic into the recycling bin, which is up from 5% in 2017 so that’s something to takeaway I guess, ”

"We're all for getting your five-a-day," says BusinessWaste.co.uk ‘s Mark Hall. "But in this case, our message is loud and clear – Say 'NO' to salad!"

It's one of the UK's fastest growing food trends and from next week customers looking for vegan options will have even more choice when Nordic plant-based food sensation Oumph! is launched across the UK.

The range, which will go on sale at Tesco stores across the UK, is already a firm favourite with shoppers in Sweden and Norway, thanks to its authentic taste, quality and convenience.

By adding Oumph! to its range, Tesco is continuing to respond to strong customer demand for plant-based foods.

In the last year it has seen demand for frozen meat-free foods rocket by more than 70 per cent, while sales of chilled vegetarian ready meals and meat substitutes have soared by 30 per cent.

That strong demand was boosted by the launch in January of the supermarket's Wicked Kitchen range, created by its own new director of plant-based food innovation Derek Sarno.

Derek's mission is to make sure shoppers across the UK have more plant-based food choices and highly recommended that Tesco stock Oumph!

Chef Derek Sarno said:

“We're seeing massive demand for plant-based food and are thrilled to be unleashing the mighty flavour of plants, making eating meat-free easy and accessible like never before.

“When I first tried Oumph! I immediately knew it would complement our range and offer those wanting to eat more veg an epic tasting experience.  Oumph! is a great addition to our already stellar line up and the start of many more things to come.”

Oumph! contains soya beans and organic herb and spice mixes. It's free from gluten, dairy and nuts and is versatile and easy to cook.

It's suitable to grill, boil, sauté, deep-fry or heat over an open fire. In addition, it's high in protein and fibre and a source of iron and folic acid.

Included in the Tesco range are the following:

  • Oumph! The Chunk – This is unseasoned for those who like to add their own herbs, spices and creativity to a dish. The Chunk contains only soya beans, water and a little salt.
  • Pulled Oumph! The top seller – Oumph! chunks in a flavoursome BBQ sauce.
  • Oumph! Kebab Spiced – Oumph! strips seasoned with a classic kebab spice mix.
Oumph! is already performing really well In Sweden and Norway. Since launching in 2015 in its native Sweden it has helped grow demand for plant-based food in that country by 24 per cent as well as being awarded a retail 'product of the year' in both countries.

Kookoo Seafood & Grill in Surbiton has scooped the accolade for Best Middle Eastern Restaurant at the inaugural Asian Restaurant Awards.

At a glittering award ceremony held at the Manchester Hilton on Monday 5th March, Kookoo, renowned for its exquisite Persian cuisine, collected the prestigious trophy.

Other winners among the country's top ethnic restaurants included; the Michelin-starred Hakkasan (Best Chinese), Rasa Sayan, London (Best Malaysian) and Palm Pan Asia (Best Pan Asian Restaurant), whilst Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express collected an award for Asian Entrepreneur of the Year.

An independent, family-run restaurant, led by restaurateur Kamran Abtahi, Kookoo has established a reputation for its healthy dishes, produced from scratch, using fresh quality ingredients and skilled marinating.

The menu is based on traditional Nejad family recipes, handed down through the generations. It features appetising salads, grills and traditional Middle Eastern stews, that are gluten-free.

The emphasis is on sharing plates with premium quality chicken, fresh fish and prime lamb cuts.

Organised by the Asian Catering Federation (ACF), which represents the country's 30,000 ethnic restaurants, the awards were open to Bangladeshi, Burmese, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Middle Eastern, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese restaurants and takeaways.

Kookoo made the Awards' shortlist thanks to the large number of votes from enthusiastic customers from Surbiton, Tolworth, Kingston and further afield. As a reward for their loyalty, Kamran is hosting a gourmet Persian feast on Monday 2nd April, to celebrate the Asian Restaurant Awards win. The special dinner will cost only £15 and includes a glass of prosecco, a bottle of premium K1 sugar-free beer or soft drink. Early booking is advised for what is expected to be a sell-out event.

“It's a great honour to win such a prestigious national accolade which vindicates our decision to develop a health-conscious dining concept and is just reward our dedicated team who work hard to creating authentic flavours,” said Abtahi.

Karman Abtahi has previously spent a total of 9 years working as head chef at renowned Persian restaurants, The Piano in Chiswick and Doost, Persian Grill in Kennington.

The Asian Restaurant Awards judges were impressed, with their notes revealing: “Classic Persian dishes given a modern gourmet twist.  Kookoo builds on a rich culinary tradition that absorbed influences from its neighbours, then exported them to northern Indian as the Mughal Empire expanded eastwards.  Subtle touches, using light marinades and delicate spices, don't overpower the food, allowing the natural flavours to shine through.  Chicken, lamb and fish dishes were all moist and a succulent. Healthy eating at its best.”

The restaurant's 'BYOB' policy, with zero corkage on Wednesdays and the offer of 50% off all drinks on Thursdays, are particularly popular.

Organised by the Asian Catering Federation (ACF), which represents the country's 30,000 ethnic restaurants, the awards were open to Bangladeshi, Burmese, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Middle Eastern, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese restaurants and takeaways.

St. Lucia's award-winning Antillia Brewing Company and world-renowned Jade Mountain Resort are debuting a dark beer that hints at the glitter of the former Russian empire and incorporates the tropical allure of new world Caribbean taste.
Labeled Nick Troubetzkoy's Imperial Chocolate Stout, the elegant new beer honors the visionary Russian-Canadian architect and owner of Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet resorts. The craft beer maker's new brew is a traditional Russian stout with a twist: It is made using fresh-roasted organic cocoa nibs from the resort's estates, home to more than 2,000 carefully tended cocoa trees.
"Innovative thinking runs in Nick Troubetzkoy's veins. One visit to Jade Mountain will reinforce this point. We worked closely with the team at Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet to develop an equally revolutionary beer," said Andrew Hashey, Antillia's founder and CEO. "The use of the resorts' own chocolate ties this beer to the organic architecture of the place and to the history of the family that has created it."
"It has proven to be a wonderful collaboration, resulting in yet another distinctive and unique offering for our savvy guests who appreciate the goodness of stout and the sweet, global history of chocolate," said Karolin Troubetzkoy, Executive Director of the resorts.
With an alcoholic volume of eight percent, Nick Troubetzkoy's Imperial Chocolate Stout is deep, aromatic, balanced and flavorful in the time-honored tradition of Russian imperial stouts.

Waitrose says konnichiwa to a new tipple as it becomes the first UK supermarket to introduce a gin made in Japan. Roku, a craft gin from Japanese distillery The House of Suntory, launches into shops this week as the thirst for the popular spirit shows no signs of slowing. With sales of gin at Waitrose up 30%, the retailer is constantly searching for new styles to meet demand. They looked to the team of expert drink makers in Osaka as they are also the distillers of award winning Japanese whiskies* popular with their shoppers.

Roku means six in Japanese and the new craft gin boasts the same number of Japanese botanicals including two styles of green tea (Sencha and Gyokuru), Yuzu, Sanshō pepper along with Sakura (cherry blossom) flower and leaf, which is synonymous with Japan. Each botanical has been harvested in accordance with the concept of 'shun' - which means they are only harvested when they reach their peak flavour.

The signature way to serve Roku is with ice, tonic and then six slithers of fresh ginger instead of the usual lemon.

John Vine, Waitrose Spirits Buyer, comments, “We are proud of our range of British gin but there is still room to experiment with drinks from further afield. Japanese whisky once raised eyebrows but now wins awards and sits happily alongside established Scottish brands in the UK. We are confident that Roku will be popular with gin fans and it's just the tonic for showing off to guests.

"The House of Suntory has pushed the botanical boundaries. The six more unusual Japanese ingredients sit alongside those we are more familiar with including juniper berries, cinnamon and cardamom."

The drink is presented in a stylish hexagonal bottle which fits the trend for designer gin collections to be displayed with pride at home - not hidden away at the back of the cupboard. The embossed bottle is complemented by a label printed on traditional 'washi' paper.

The launch follows the announcement last week that Waitrose has been named 'Supermarket of the Year' at the Icons of Gin Awards.