Colors: Green Color
Colors: Green Color

Waitrose is the first UK supermarket to launch a Prosecco cheese. Arriving in shops on 4th December, this indulgent cheese is perfect for adding a sparkly twist to a festive cheeseboard.

The Ubriaco Prosecco DOC, affectionately referred to as 'drunken cheese', is a traditional Italian cows' milk cheese which is bathed in Treviso Prosecco DOC for 40 to 50 days during its ageing process, which takes 6 - 8 months in total.

Made by a third generation family of cheese makers in Veneto, northern Italy, the cheese has a soft, supple texture. Its flavour is reminiscent of flowers, pears and golden apples, with a hint of saltiness in the background. The cheese develops a semi-firm edible rind as it soaks in the Prosecco DOC and the wine imparts floral and aromatic notes to the cheese.

The company behind the cheese was founded in 1930 by Luigi Moro, who sold milk to local families in Veneto, particularly helping those who were struggling during difficult times. In the 1950s they started cheese production and today Sergio Moro, Luigi's grandson, specialises in making cheeses using old rural techniques of production and ageing.

The cheese goes particularly well with pears and figs, and a glass of Prosecco or aged red wine.

Heston Blumenthal has worked his magic to turn what can be the most divisive part of a traditional Christmas dinner into a dish everyone will love - a giant 'sprout' filled with profiteroles. Available at Waitrose from December 13th, the Heston from Waitrose Melting Chocolate 'Sprout' will appeal to even the most vehement sprout haters.

The new dessert has a green chocolate dome shell which, when drizzled with warmed salted caramel sauce, melts to reveal 18 green profiterole 'sprouts' filled with a lime-flavoured Crème Patissiere. The visual effect is a pile of sprouts doused in gravy but - with no actual sprouts or gravy used in the recipe - the flavour could not be more different; the zingy lime profiteroles perfectly balance the sweetness of the chocolate and salted caramel sauce.

The dessert's green shell, which is textured to look like a giant version of the festive vegetable, is made with white chocolate turned green by adding spirulina, a natural colouring. The choux pastry profiteroles are filled with a Crème Patissiere flavoured with lime.

Blumenthal is a master of curious food, famous for innovative dishes like the Meat Fruit - a 'mandarin' made with chicken liver parfait - at his restaurant, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and The Fat Duck's famous Bacon and Egg Ice Cream.

Heston Blumenthal says: 'The dishes that have caused the biggest response from our guests at The Fat Duck are those that look like something they're not. What can be more fun at Christmas than playing with your guests' minds and taste buds with a dessert that will leave everyone talking?'

Aileen Wood, Waitrose dessert buyer, says: 'Christmas is the perfect time of year to create a fun dessert with lots of theatre for people to enjoy together. We are sure this unique pud will be a talking point, and will give sprout haters a chance to try a new take on the festive veg!'

Heston has also introduced both a new gin and Panettone for Christmas 2017. The Heston from Waitrose Citrus Sherbert Lazy Gin only needs ice and Mediterranean tonic water to create the perfect G&T.

Blumenthal has also taken a classic Italian Panettone and given it a 70s makeover with the Heston from Waitrose Black Forest Panettone - the cherry scattered bread is topped with dark chocolate and kirsch-soaked cherries.

The most visited destination in the U.S. has a new must-taste experience: a signature dessert developed to showcase the region's culinary evolution and connection with honey. A destination-wide culinary competition involved public voting as well as a celebrity panel of judges including two-time James Beard Award winner Chef Art Smith.

The winning dish, “Orlando's Honey Nougat Glacé, is an Italian meringue prepared with honey, nougat and fruit confit, on a red berries sorbet from Chef Catherine Delrieu of Mon Petit Cheri.

“Orlando's Honey Nougat Glacé stood out because you could really taste the honey,” said Chef Art Smith. “Yet it had this wonderful clean refreshing aftertaste – a total sweet honey bomb with a delicious tart fruit that soothes. Congratulations to Chef Catherine on this fabulous dish.”

“I wanted to create something different and refreshing to showcase local honey, but with balanced flavors so that it does not become too overpowering with sweetness,” said Chef Catherine Delrieu. “The entire process has been really exciting and challenging. I'm very proud to have been a part of this.”

The culinary competition launched in August, welcoming submissions from across Central Florida with the following criteria:

  • local honey must be a key ingredient;
  • the dish must be a dessert;
  • it is available to the public in a restaurant or food venue;
  • only one entry per restaurant.
With more than a month-long window for trying the desserts in restaurants and submitting a vote online, the public narrowed down the field of honey desserts to the top 10 dishes. An esteemed judging panel sampled all 10 finalists' entries and rated them on the following criteria: Execution, Appearance, Taste, Creativity, Originality, Use of Honey and Representation of Orlando.

The panel of judges included:

  • Celebrity Chef Art Smith, Homecomin' and two-time James Beard Foundation Award Winner
  • Tish Boyle, co-editor of Dessert Professional magazine
  • Lauren Delgado, multimedia food reporter for the Orlando Sentinel
  • Scott Joseph, veteran restaurant critic for com
“Orlando's Honey Nougat Glacé serves as a reminder of the eclectic, vibrant and diverse culinary scene that we have right here in Central Florida,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “I hope to see all of the restaurants and incredibly talented chefs throughout our region put their own spin on this dish.”

Five food businesses in Sandwell have been recognised by Sandwell Council for offering healthier food options to their customers.

The national award called Eat Out Eat Well rewards caterers who make it easier for their customers to opt for healthier choices when eating out.

With three levels – bronze, silver and gold - the scheme is open to caterers, takeaways and other food retailers that have a good food hygiene rating and are complaint with food standards.

It encourages food businesses to provide healthier options to customers by increasing fruit, vegetable and starchy carbohydrates on their menus, and decreasing fat, especially saturated fat, sugar and salt.

The level of the award is based on a scoring system that takes into account the type of food on offer, cooking methods, provision of healthier meals for children and how the meals are promoted customers.

A platinum level is also available to larger organisations which meet government buying standards.

The first five Sandwell award winners are:

Brasshouse Café, Brasshouse Lane, Smethwick (Silver award)

Health Futures UTC Café, High Street, West Bromwich (Silver award)

Captain Café, Halesowen Road, Cradley Heath (Bronze award)

D’Vine Café, High Street, West Bromwich (Bronze award)

Eat it Fresh, Pound Road, Oldbury (Bronze award)

Councillor Elaine Costigan, cabinet member for public health and protection, who presented the awards, said:

“I’d like to congratulate all the winners of this new award for Sandwell.

“A lot of us enjoy eating out, but it can sometimes be a struggle to find healthier alternative eating options.

“We’re all becoming more aware of the contribution that a healthier diet can make towards reducing some diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

“These awards are a great way of recognising and raising awareness of the businesses that are making that extra effort to provide us with tasty and healthier options."

Abbas Abbas, owner of Captain Café in Cradley Heath, said: “I am very honoured and proud  to receive this award for Captain Café.

"The Eat Out Eat Well scheme, gives food businesses an opportunity to promote healthy eating to our communities and to offer our customers a healthier choice of food.”

Customers wanting to make changes to their lifestyle through healthier eating should look out for the Eat Out Eat Well logo when eating out, showing them where healthier eating choices are available.

Sainsbury's is branching into the coffee-to-go market by trialling a new coffee bar at the front of six of its supermarkets.

The bars, called '1869 Coffee' in reference to the year that Sainsbury's opened its first shop, enable customers to order Sainsbury's Own Brand coffees and teas, as well as pastries and cakes (hot panini's will be available in selected coffee bars) to take away.

Run by a Sainsbury's colleague with specialist barista training, the menu offers a wide range of hot drinks with each store spicing it up and adding their own seasonal specials throughout the year. In the run up to Christmas customers can get their hands on new blends including a honeycomb latte, black forest hot chocolate and gingerbread latte. Mince pies will also be on offer for those looking for a festive treat.

Mintel's latest reports reveal that the UK coffee shop market has risen by 37% over the last five years and coffee-to-go is high in demand. Sainsbury's new coffee bar format will look to tap into this market by giving customers their instant caffeine hit while on the move.

Customers in Sainsbury's West Green, Cambridge Eddington, Slough, Watford and Alton can already pay a visit to the bars, with Sainsbury's Armada Way store in Plymouth due to kick off the service this week. The bars will be open seven days a week with opening times varying from store to store.

Adrian Cook, Director of Fresh Foods at Sainsbury's commented“We want to help all of our customers to live well for less and as part of this we're continually looking at new ways to be there for our customers, providing a range of convenient and high quality services at their fingertips.

“By giving our customers the chance to grab and go a range of hot drinks and snacks at the front of the store, we are differentiating our in-store offer and delivering a great value takeaway experience. It's an exciting opportunity for us to listen and understand how our customers respond to a new trial like this.”

Changing UK diets have prompted Tesco to double its vegetarian and vegan centrepiece festive food offering this year.

And that should be good news for the growing number of people who don't eat or want to cut down on meat or dairy foods. It also shows customers that however they do Christmas - everyone's welcome at Tesco.

In the last year demand for vegetarian and vegan food has soared and Tesco is seeing the effect of lifestyle choices like Meat Free Mondays and flexitarian diets with sales of chilled vegetarian ready meals and meat substitutes growing by 25 per cent.

For vegetarians there's a Portobello Mushroom Wellington made with spinach and bursts of cranberry in rich puff pastry and also a Festive Nut Roast with a mulled wine and cranberry glaze.

And for the first time ever Tesco has two vegan Christmas dinner centrepieces - a sumptuous Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower Wellington and a festive Pecan and Peanut Roast with maple-roasted carrot and parsnip.

Tesco recently announced that chef Derek Sarno would be joining the retailer as director of plant-based innovation, with a focus on helping customers enjoy more plant-based food by putting it centre stage like never before.

Derek is now working with suppliers, farmers and chefs on developing exciting new foods that go on sale over the coming year.

Chef Derek Sarno said:

“These are changing times and vegetable dishes have now become centrepiece heroes in their own right on dinner tables up and down the country.

“We think that our Portobello Mushroom Wellington is so delicious that it may tempt diners to try something different this Christmas.

“This year, Tesco's Christmas campaign celebrates the many ways we come together at Christmas, and with the quality of vegetarian and vegan food now so good there may even be squabbles across the dinner table over who gets what.”

Tesco has been catering for the increasing amount of vegan customers throughout the year and is offering its biggest ever range of vegan products.

It recently increased its range of dairy free cheeses to nine and among the new additions are a melty red Leicester for cheese on toast, Mozzarella to top pizzas, a jalapeno Cheddar, a blue cheese, and Cheddar.

It has also launched eight new milk free desserts to cater for vegans.

According to a British Social Attitudes report published last year, three in 10 people in Britain (29 per cent) say they have reduced the amount of meat they eat in the past 12 months.

And nearly half (44 per cent) of people either do not eat meat, have reduced the amount of meat they eat or are considering reducing the amount of meat they eat.

Lynne Elliot, Chief Executive, the Vegetarian Society commented:

“With demand for vegetarian and meat-free alternatives rising, it's great to see supermarkets across the UK like Tesco working hard to keep their customers happy and increasing their vegetarian range.

“Offering customers a better choice is especially welcome at Christmas.”

As part of Tesco's commitment to increase the amount of vegetables in people's diets and encourage healthier eating, it has recently pledged to increase the amount of vegetables used in recipes and also offer more vegetable options amongst its ready meal deals.

The winner of the Love British Food 2017 competition, run in conjunction with Co-op and The Telegraph has been announced as the Ginger & Spice Festival, held in Market Drayton, Shropshire.  This brand-new event which ran from 27-30 September, championed the town’s culinary heritage and historical links to spices, food and gingerbread as well as promoting local food producers, suppliers and other food related organisations and community groups.

The inspired programme of celebrations over four days included an eclectic mix of activities including ‘The Pickles Spice Trail’ in Market Drayton – a competition related to food tastings and questions found in tearooms, cafes, pubs, restaurants, shops and the museum.  As well as a pop up restaurant showcasing British alternatives to spices there was a foraging walk around the town, a spicy street market, cookery demonstrations, educational outreach activities about spices for children and adults, live music and a comedy food show, beer tasting and much more!  Over 60 local organisations took part including the Town Council, local school, St John’s Ambulance, and the local church. Market Drayton Twinning Association also played a big part as did local producers.

Long term supporters of British Food Fortnight, Hampshire Fare and Notts City Hospital Grow Your Own Garden came in as joint second place.

The competition, now in its fifth year, acknowledges the people behind the most imaginative and inclusive celebrations of local food and the harvest. Entries were received from across the country and included restaurant events, community festivals, activities in care homes and initiatives in schools.

Alexia Robinson, Founder of Love British Food said: “We applaud the commitment of the organisers and consumers who never fail to spread the message far and wide.  We are delighted with the high standard of responses to the competition with entries received from schools, care homes, caterers and community groups.  The Fortnight is getting bigger and better every year and we are already planning for next year!”

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges led by The Rt Hon Michael Gove, MP - Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Cathryn Higgs, Head of Food Policy, Co-op Food, Breige Donaghy, Director of Delicious Food, Co-op, Chef Raymond Blanc, OBE, Liz Earle, MBE wellbeing writer and farmer, Ian MacGregor, Editor Emeritus, The Telegraph and Alexia Robinson, Founder of Love British Food.  Together they were looking for events that strengthened the local community, supported the economy and educated the public about British food and eating locally.

Raymond Blanc said: “The entries were amazing and reading each story made me very proud to be involved in British Food Fortnight.   Each entry was clear in its objective – to share what we have around us with others and celebrate food.  To me all the entries were very much winners.”

Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs Michael Gove will be presenting the winners with a special handcrafted award said: “

“The wide range of ambitious applications for this year’s British Food Fortnight competition is testament to the nationwide pride in our homegrown food.

“While all entrants showed tremendous imagination and enthusiasm for championing Britain’s high quality, great tasting food, the Ginger & Spice Festival showed real ingenuity by getting the whole community involved in celebrating the area’s culinary heritage. They are a worthy winner.”

Cathryn Higgs, Food Policy at Co-op said “I loved the way the Ginger & Spice Festival celebrated their culinary history – this is often lost and it’s important we retain these taste links to the past.”

The newly crowned winners will be treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Michelin Starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons gardens plus £250 in Co-op vouchers and a case of Co-op award winning ‘Les Pionniers’ champagne.

Runners up will receive a year’s subscription to Liz Earle Magazine: a signed Liz Earle Wellbeing Yearbook and a signed copy of each of Liz’s best selling books The Good Gut Guide and Skin.  Plus £100 worth of Co-op vouchers.

Waitrose has become the first supermarket to ensure that all of its branded and own-label canned tuna is either Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified or pole and line caught, meaning it is 100 percent responsibly sourced.

The achievement is the result of work over the last year with branded tuna suppliers to improve their sustainability credentials. All Waitrose own-label canned tuna has been pole and line caught since 2009 and MSC certified since 2013, while all the tuna in own-label ready prepared products such as sandwiches and pâtés is also pole and line caught.

The commitment to 100 percent responsible tuna coincides with the launch of a new range of MSC-certified John West canned tuna products. The ready-to-eat, 'no drain' cans will be available exclusively at Waitrose for six months.

Jeremy Ryland-Langley, Waitrose's Aquaculture and Fisheries Manager, said: “Sustainability is at the heart of what we do and we are proud to have such a strong record in ensuring that our own-label tuna is caught in the most responsible way possible. When they buy a can of own-label tuna, our customers know that they are always buying a product which has been responsibly sourced – and now they have the same assurance when it comes to buying a branded product.”

Toby Middleton, MSC's Programme Director, added: “It's great to see Waitrose expand the range of MSC labelled tuna products on sale in their stores with these new John West MSC labelled cans. Extending their own sustainable seafood strategy to also apply to the brands they stock shows how seriously Waitrose treat the health of the world's oceans.”

Brits create record demand for low alcohol wines with sales at Tesco more than doubling in the last year.

But now the supermarket believes that number is set to grow even further after launching a range that is virtually indistinguishable in taste from its alcoholic counterparts.

The range includes five customer favourites – a Cabernet Tempranillo, a Grenacha-Rosé and a Sauvignon Blanc – the latter two in both still and sparkling varieties.

The taste improvement comes from a new innovative spinning cone technique that gently removes the alcohol without sacrificing the aroma, quality and flavour profile of the wine.

Until now most non-alcoholic wines have been fermented until they reach the point where they are about to turn alcoholic so the liquid never actually becomes wine.

Another popular method involves removing the alcohol but replacing it with a number of sugars and artificial flavours to bring back the flavours lost through the process.

Tesco wine expert Alexandra Runciman, who developed the range, said:

“Consumption of alcohol in the UK down is down by 18 per cent over the last decade and we're seeing more customers looking for a quality wine drinking experience without the alcohol.

“In recent years we've seen improvements in the quality and range of low and no alcohol ciders and beers which have put the wine equivalent firmly in the shade.

“This is the first wine range of its kind sold by a supermarket which offers customers a real comparable alternative to popular varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc, without any compromise on taste.”

The wines, which are nearly alcohol free - less than 0.5% - have been developed in partnership with leading international wine producers Felix Solis, and will be available in over 700 stores across the country and online and will be priced from £3.

In March 2017 Tesco became the first supermarket to bring together its entire range of alcohol free, or less than 0.5% ABV beers, wines and spirits in one place in stores across the UK.

Artisan crisp company, Fairfields Farm, is celebrating after being awarded the Innovative Packaging Design of the Year Award at Food Matter's Live for its newest and most innovative brand, Heat & Eat.

Following on from the huge success of the launch of Heat & Eat in September, which is now available in Tesco and East of England Co-Op, this award is proof that the brand is a perfect fit for the current snacking market.

“We are over the moon to have won this award,” says Laura Strathern, co-founder of Fairfields Farm. “When we launched Heat & Eat we knew we'd designed an innovative product, so it's just fantastic that the judges agreed.

“There was some really stiff competition in the Innovative Packaging Design category and every product entered was so different. It's amazing to win!” adds Laura.

The Food Matter's Live Awards recognise the creativity and inventiveness of the food and drink industry to produce products and ingredients that meet the ever-changing demands and palates of health conscious and trend-hungry consumers. And, with stiff competition among the entrants, winning a category award is a huge achievement.

Briony Mansell-Lewis, Food Matters Live director, said, “We were incredibly impressed by the standard and quality of entries to our first ever Food Matters Live Awards - there were very strong contenders in each category. While it was a tough choice, we're pleased to recognise the outstanding achievements of the winners, who can only be described as innovative trailblazers of the food and drink industry.”

Fairfields Farm received an iconic, unique award – creatively designed around the innovative concept of a taste bud and incorporating the five senses of taste – at a special ceremony hosted by Food Matters Live at London's ExCeL on 22nd November.

As a city historically, Liverpool isn't known for its lust for all things health and wellness-oriented, especially food and drink but the climate is changing.

So says, grocery stalwart and award-winning entrepreneur Dalip Matta, who along with brother Deepak runs Matta's in Liverpool's burgeoning restaurant quarter Bold Street.

“We've noticed that Liverpool and its people are taking a much keener interest in health & wellness in all of its forms of late. The spikes amongst wellness food and drink on our website proves that.”

Dalip says it's been a long road for many operators in Liverpool treading the wellness path “but we at Matta's had a vision many years ago to bring a more health-aligned range of products and we know that in spite of the large array of our current stock, it is just the beginning.”

“We've always thought that the most positive action to take when you have a passion for something that is missing in your home city is to provide it for everyone yourselves. And that's what we're doing.

“We're also bringing more of Matta's to the outside world taking part in many pop up events rather than just expecting people to visit our shop...actually we never expected lots to visit, just hoped.”

So what exactly are Matta's doing, albeit in their 33rdyear in business to bring customers a unique wellness experience when it comes to food shopping in Liverpool?

“We're getting approaches from really exciting, nascent businesses offering high quality products especially organic and or/vegan products, many of which are perishable goods that lend well to pop-up activity in-store, heightened social media activity and national press coverage. We're also often giving fledging companies their first start and it's been great to watch them grow.

“In addition, and especially based where we are in the restaurant quarter, we've plenty of famous faces like Nisha Katona shopping with us from the industry as we sell so many basic essentials for cooking...we've grown our business buy selling natural ingredients, I guess in referring to wellness, we're just calling them something different but the range in the market just gets bigger and so does our stock!”

With foodies queuing up eagerly for fresh Sri Lankan favorites like hoppers at London's street food markets; the country's first Michelin star just awarded to Sri Lankan national Rishi Naleendra; and fast becoming a Soho institution- Hoppers opening a second outpost in the UK capital, it is clear that Sri Lanka's eclectic food scene is finally getting the global recognition it deserves. Nevertheless, the best way to experience authentic Sri Lankan cuisine is still in the bustling streets and markets of this Indian Ocean island melting pot, so bespoke holiday experts Experience Travel Group - originally founded in Sri Lanka in 2004 - have drawn on all their unrivalled knowledge and passion for this diverse country to create a superb new immersive Cuisine of Sri Lanka tour. Fuelled by an alluring array of fragrant coconut curries, savoury pancakes laden with spices and moreish rotis, the exclusive tour takes in bustling city markets, ancient rice fields, coconut farms and tea plantations amongst other exclusive experiences, providing a true taste of Sri Lankan culture and cuisine.

Tamil, Muslim and Burgher culture has all played its part in shaping Sri Lanka's culinary heritage, and the island's landscape also lends itself to even greater diversity. From the lush fruit and vegetables of the far north, to the old world glamour of the tea plantations and the fresh seafood dishes of the south coast, all these elements combine to create an island idyll perfect for intrepid foodies. Fast food aficionados will love Kottu Roti, a mix of stir-fried vegetables, egg, spices and chopped flatbread, washed down with a cold Lion beer. Brunch fans will fall for Ceylon tea and Egg Hoppers - a delicate rice flour bowl-shaped pancake topped with an egg, dhal curry, and onion sambal. With vibrant spices, the aromas of stewing curry and baskets of juicy fresh fruit seen on every corner, visitors are sure to be captivated by Sri Lanka's vibrant food scene.

Experience Travel Group co-founder Sam Clark says that “to get a true experience of Sri Lanka's amazing food, we like to encourage our clients to get off the beaten track, head out across the country and call into the little villages, as that's where the best is found. After their eyes and mouths have been opened - and their minds and waistlines expanded! – the capital, Colombo, is a great end to a culinary tour. There's a real buzz around the urban food scene at the moment, with lots of new restaurants run by dynamic young chefs who aren't afraid to deconstruct and reinvent the nation's classics.”

When John McLoughlin opened the acclaimed 358 Portland Street on Smithdown Road, those on the inside of the industry that know the unassuming head chef and founder knew it would be a hit.

Liverpool restaurant & bar experts Ubiquity spoke with the man himself and heard about his enthusiasm for hospitality and his extraordinary CV.

“I was inspired to open Portland St. I'd opened so many other businesses for other people i'd previously worked for in my career.

“The desire to open my own restaurant was so overwhelming that if I hadn't, I would have regretted it later in life.”

John maintains that around the time of his big decision, he saw “a switch in the way food trends were going.

“Places like Bakchich had just opened & Mowgli was in the process of being built, and the city scene was moving over to a street food-led scene.

“It was growing rapidly in London & I sensed that it wouldn't be long before the trend came to Liverpool.

“Given my experience, I grasped the opportunity of recreating restaurant dishes, presenting them in a more casual style, without losing any of the quality & finesse.

“This formed the basis of our philosophy 'it's not fast food it's flavour with flair.'

John's research into the business took him to London and the USA taking in the scene in Camden and Portland respectively.

“I was following the scene in Camden and, in Portland where street food operators occupy 'pods'...they are everywhere and the diversity of the food is incredible.”

John was taken aback by the variety of street food on offer and felt like he had “an open book to work on his own equally expansive menu with all the variety I could muster.”

When you hear more about John's attitude, success and history in the catering industry within restaurants, it's now wonder 358 Portland Street's menus are now the talk of the town both in the city and suburbs of South Liverpool.

He sounds as passionate today as he was when he started almost three decades ago and he admits this.

“I like working with any food, especially ingredients i have never used before. I generally try most new dishes at home, where i can experiment without any pressure! I often get asked too given that I was around to witness the rise of the celebrity chef if I follow any of them on TV but i'm too busy!

“I do like Jamie Oliver for his enthusiasm & he seems to be in touch more with your everyday person but they're all talented because they're on TV!

John compares the business of being in the profession as like being 'a gerbil rotating in a wheel' whilst also trying to juggle several other tasks at the same time.

“Even when I'm not in the kitchen, I'm constantly doing something that involves the business.”

John believes that if he retired tomorrow, he knows he can look back with pride on what he has achieved, in both a personal & career sense.

“I've missed out on a lot to achieve what I have, but it comes with the path i chose. If you want something you have to work hard, as no one gives you it on a plate in this industry!”

In spite of helping to launch more than 40 businesses in his career to date, John's own plans for his current brand won't stop with the restaurant business having already carved a successful niche in outside catering street food-style for weddings, anniversaries and many other private functions.

“There's a real buzz and appetite both within the industry and amongst the general public for a more eclectic style of wining, dining and eating out and it's enabling us to diversify the 358 Portland Street brand beyond the presence of our high street location.”

It's an altogether different scene from when John left catering college in 1989.

“Back then, there were 5 decent restaurants in the city. Many of us had to leave the City to gain the experience we needed, which has in turn, given the scene in Liverpool the impetus it needed to grow.

“As most chefs came home bringing skills & knowledge they had attained with them. I went for an Indian in London when i was 18, didn't even know they existed. Where you look at Liverpool it is saturated with restaurants, bars, coffee shops & top end hotels

We had to ask John what he'd cook Ubiquity if we were lucky enough to be asked round for dinner!

“If i was preparing a meal at home, you'd get family-style service which gets people interacting, chatting and is more i'd get to sit down as well! In terms of what i'd cook depends on whether my mum was there as she doesn't like chicken! Irrespective, anything that can be shared & rustic would be on the table as that's how i'd enjoy the occasion too.”

As frustrated chefs, we also couldn't resist asking John what the secret to being a good chef is.

“Just work hard, be reliable, watch, learn and constantly ask questions from good chefs above you. Believe me, you will learn something new everyday.”

Wise words from a man who knows.

With plenty of knowledge, enthusiasm and artisan cheeses behind the counter, Cheese Etc, The Pangbourne Cheese Shop, has been named Cheese Counter of the Year, sponsored by Le Gruyère AOP, at the 30th edition of the World Cheese Awards, held at Tobacco Dock in London on Friday 17 November.

Having already made their mark in last year's competition, coming joint-third overall, owners Ali and Jen Grimstone-Jones impressed the judges with how far they've developed the business in the past 12 months. The shop has been refurbished with a lighter, brighter colour scheme and their new branding, while the business has also expanded into new areas, such as supplying local pubs and restaurants, developing a cheese wedding tower business and online sales.

Judges made particular note of the different ways employed by Cheese Etc to sell its cheese and keep its 100-strong cheese counter moving, saying “the cheeses are clearly displayed and grouped together, making navigation around the counter easy, all helping Ali and Jen to stock a big range and keep the cheese in excellent condition.”

Brimming with character and personal touches, “from the mouse painting by a local artist to a 'cheese of the moment' blackboard and a John Keats poem with a cheesy twist”, customers are welcomed warmly and encouraged to try the cheeses and expand their cheeseboard's horizons. Jen buys directly from cheesemakers whenever she can, regularly driving down to the West Country to buy whole truckles of farmhouse cheddar and building up excellent relationships with cheesemakers in the local area.

Cheese writer Patrick McGuigan, head judge of the Cheese Counter of the Year competition, explained: “Independent retailers can find it hard to compete against the big supermarkets on the high street, but Cheese Etc is a shining example of how small shops can be successful if they play to their strengths. Lovely customer service, a fantastic line up of artisan cheeses in tip-top condition and plenty of knowledge and enthusiasm behind the counter all create a rather special experience, so it gives us great pleasure to shine a light on these fantastic independent retailers. If only every high street had a cheesemonger like this, the world would be a better place.”

Yawar Khan, the Chairman of the Asian Catering Federation (ACF), which represent the interests of 35,000 restaurants and takeaways in the UK, has given a guarded welcome to Chancellor Phillip Hammond's proposal to introduce a levy on single use plastic packaging.

On Wednesday, the Chancellor is expected initiate a debate into the issue which Greenpeace has deemed "a global emergency".

However, Khan is calling for any new tax to be kept to minimum and for assistance to tackle the severe problems facing the curry industry – staff shortages, rising business rates and the high rate of VAT on the hospitality sector.

“We need to reduce the problem cause by plastics, which are polluting the oceans and poisoning marine wildlife,” said Khan, adding, “The 5p tax on plastic carrier bags has been sufficient to cut their usage by 85% - so a new surcharge will not need to be excessive to bring about a change in customer behaviour. Restaurants, need to pass the cost on to customers, like shops, and stop absorbing it.”

The packing on a typical family takeaway order costs the restaurant owner around 25p. Busy takeaway restaurants can spend £2,000 on single use packaging in a year.

In addition to encouraging takeaway owners and their customers to reuse plastic containers, the ACF has announced it is pushing members to introduce their own 'Tiffin Club', using multi-use tiffin tins, which have long been popular in India. Takeaways will simply charge a small deposit with their first order, which are then swapped on subsequent orders.

Tiffins are a set of 5 or 6 interlocking metal containers, with a carry handle.

The ACF will be offering to supply its members with tiffins which are ubiquitous in Indian cities and at railway stations along the country's 40,000 miles of tracks. India has one of the longest rail networks in the world. The introduction of the railways by the British during colonial times, saw the advent of 'Railway' mutton and chicken' dishes served in tiffins. The dishes can still be found on some UK curry house menus today.

“Tiffins, which will eliminate plastic waste and keep takeaways warm, are an ideal opportunity for restaurateurs to introduce smaller, sharing dishes, healthier options and authentic Indian dishes, being demanded by customers,” said Khan.

The ACF says that burger and pizza takeaways are more of a problem in terms of litter and points out that polystyrene boxes, unlike plastic, cannot be recycled.

The Federation is lobbying government to introduce temporary 2-year work visas for chefs from the former Commonwealth countries to tackle acute staff shortages.

Once upon a time, every home had pots and pots of different foods in various stages of fermentation. There is no part of the world that doesn't have a tradition of fermentation, whether you're talking about alcoholic beverages, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, cheese, bread, soy sauce, salami or our own kombucha. But over the last 50 years or so, many cultures have lost a big part of the skills and traditions surrounding food fermentation.

What is fermentation? Fermentation is a natural process relating to the transformative action of microorganisms on various foods. It is nature's way of preserving these foods, and it makes them palatable over the winter months.

In many cultures, fermentation had a mystic fascination. Imagine dropping a few apples into water and over days watching it boil and bubble with no heat at all, then drinking the resulting liquor and finding you were transported into another world. Consequently, fermentation became a ritual in many societies, controlled by the elders or medicine men.

Fermentation was once a core and necessary part of the forest-or-farm-to-table process. When foraging for fruits and vegetables, particularly in autumn shortly before the end of abundance, or farming produce in much larger quantities, preservation through the winter was a major issue. Meat might be salted, and fruits cooked into conserves, but fermentation was much the most reliable and longest-term method of preservation.

The flavour of fermentation Just as importantly, fermentation develops fantastic tart, sour, full flavours from foods that may be dull or boring themselves, particularly at a time of year when the range of flavour options is very limited. Cracking open a crock of deeply fermented sauerkraut at Christmas when the only other fresh produce were carrots and turnips must have seemed like absolute heaven.

But with the invention of widescale refrigeration, the expansion of industrial food processing and the trend to fly fresh produce all over the world, fermentation fell out of favour. The 50s and 60s were a great moment of domestic change. Appliances of all sorts freed us from being chained to the kitchen sink; supermarkets became much more widespread, so vegetable gardening declined. Processed foods in cans and packets were the height of fashion. If a crock of fermented cabbage were seen on the shelf, it meant you hadn't moved with the times.

But as we are beginning to realise, our love affair with sweet, sugary, processed foods, as well as the cheap calories of carbohydrates and fast meals on the go, have had a terrible effect on our health.

The great news is that, 50 years on, a counter trend is on its way…

Fermentation and gut health The recent reemergence of fermentation has come ostensibly from a belief that fermented foods are healthy. Over the past 150 years, since Pasteur and Koch, bacteria and other microbes have been seen as the enemy. Flemming et al, in the 1930s, gave us penicillin and other antibiotics that act indiscriminately to kill bacteria both good and bad. And from the 1950s, marketing has turned bacteria into a universal evil to be killed at all cost.

Due to recent research into the microbiome, however, we are beginning to understand the positive impact of our gut bacteria on all sorts of diseases. Healthy digestion is clearly linked to a healthy gut, particularly the range and breadth of our gut bacteria. We are also beginning to link the increase in allergies to a decline in our gut bacteria, and early exposure to various pathogens. Even more recently, research has begun to suggest that our mental health, and even serious mental diseases such as Alzheimer's, may be linked to our gut microbiome.

We are not suggesting that drinking a bottle of kombucha a day is going to have a sudden impact on your health. As Ed Yong stated, the bacteria in most probiotics is like a gentle breeze rustling papers on a warm day: it is insufficient to make a major impact. But fermented foods have been part of our diet for millennia and we may just find out, in time, that they are a necessary element that we have reduced too far.

Fermentation: no passing fad But it is not only direct health that has increased this interest. The acceleration of our lives, the slow decline of our cultures and communities, and the frightening rise in mental health problems has led us to reflect on past times. A particular movement that has emerged from this is Slow Food. And what, we ask you, is slower than fermentation?

What are the alternatives? As we reduce our dependence on sugary and salty foods, processed fats and low glycemic index carbohydrates, what else is out there that can feed our craving for flavour? We are re-learning to love straightforward fruits and green vegetables, raw or lightly-cooked and unadulterated, free-range meats; dairy and eggs, leanly prepared. Why not spice all of that up with a fabulous tart pickle, a big dollop of sauerkraut, or accompany it with an aromatic Real Kombucha, naturally low in sugar and alcohol and with all the goodness of both tea and a fully fermented brew. Sounds like very heaven to us!