Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Byron’s new cash injection and squirrel meat

The news, reviews and trends from February 2-3, including criticism of Subway’s fat-filled Spicy Italian and an interview with pro-Brexit Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin.

4 February 2019
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Food news

Byron absorbs other £10m

Existing investors have pumped another £10m into Byron Burger, less than a year after the struggling burger chain signed a CVA. The brand lost £55m before tax in the year to June 2017, according to the Sunday Times, despite sales of £88m.


Subway’s sandwiches are sub-par on fat

Spicy Italian, Chicken and Bacon Ranch Melt, Big Beef Melt – these three 12-inch sarnies contain excessive amounts of saturated fat, alleges an article in the Daily Mail. The Spicy Italian in particular has been criticised by health campaigners for having more saturated fat than an adult woman’s recommended daily allowance, though a Subway spokeswoman responded: “Four in 10 subs sold in the UK are from the Low Fat range, which have no more than 1.5g saturated fat per 100g.”

image credit: Subway

Green energy from animal byproducts

Farm slurry, animal-based food waste and slaughterhouse byproducts have become an increasingly popular source of energy thanks to their abundance and green credentials, notes the Sunday Times. Anaerobic digesters convert these items into methane gas, which can then be used to create power. The downside? The Vegan Society has just said that this form of energy is not vegan-friendly due to its reliance on animal products.


Patisserie Valerie's potential buyers

Azzurri, Costa and Leon are said to be among the many interested parties hoping to snap up at least some of Patisserie Valerie’s sites, according to Telegraph sources. The news comes as the bidding process for the bakery chain moves into the second round, following the Friday deadline for initial indicative offers. The Sunday Times, meanwhile, reports that fictitious Groupon vouchers were used to inflate the scandal-hit cafe chain’s sales.


Canadians take stake in Irish Domino’s franchise

Canadian Bronfman Family Office (BFO) has taken a stake in Shorecal, Ireland’s largest Domino’s pizza franchise, alongside Domino’s Pizza Group (DPG), the London stock market-listed master franchise. The Sunday Times notes that the company posted revenues of €48.9m in 2017.


Food trends

Squirrel meat

Grey squirrels culled to protect Britain’s native red squirrel are finding their way onto menus. The Telegraph notes that Native in London makes a squirrel ragu, while Michelin-starred The Forest Side in Cumbria offers squirrel croquettes. The Wild Meat company, meanwhile, says that squirrel meat is now its most popular product after venison and pheasant.

image credit: Wild Meat

Food interviews

Tim Martin, founder and chairman of Wetherspoons

The Sunday Times chats with the pro-Brexit boss of Wetherspoons, who has just completed a two-month tour of 100 of his pubs to campaign for a no-deal Brexit. Under Martin’s guidance, Wetherspoons’ share price has risen 50% over the last five years, while last year's pre-tax profits went up 6.5% to £89m.


Andrew Wong, chef behind A. Wong and Kym’s

The man who brought fresh excitement to Chinese food talks to the Sunday Times about hiring an anthropologist to explore traditional cuisine and championing Cantonese roast meats at Kym’s.


Food reviews

Pucci, London W1S 2PP

Marina O’Loughlin finds a confused melange of retro pizza and Ottolenghi-style small plates at this reinvention of the Pucci brand. “This new Pucci is made in Chelsea in the same way that Made in Chelsea is made in Chelsea: bougie, blingy, fake,” she writes, while adding that the chef, Tilly Turbett, is a fair cook despite the mess of a menu.

image credit: Pucci

Monsieur Le Duck, London E1 6AN

Paddling into a French pond of duck dishes, Jay Rayner admires the abbreviated menu done well at this London Liverpool Street pop-up, which will be in residence until May. Duck here is produced four ways: grilled over coals, pan-roasted, minced into a burger patty and made into a “crisp and bronzed and salty and rich” confit.

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