Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Ceviche changes hands and crops destroyed by flooding

All the news, reviews and trends from November 16-17, including analyses of the plant-based meat and dairy markets.

18 November 2019
plant-basedrestaurant openingrestaurantssupermarkets

Food news

Ceviche chain to close sites following sale

Rosa’s Thai Cafe founders Saiphin and Alex Moore have bought the Ceviche chain after a pre-pack administration. Three of the six outlets of the Peruvian seafood concept will remain open, while founder Martin Morales is expected to act as brand ambassador, though he will have no further role in the day-to-day running of the business. 


Floods devastate crops

Flooding in the north of England has impacted the harvesting of potatoes, cabbages and cauliflowers, with price rises on items like crisps and chips expected as a result. While the full extent of the damage remains to be seen, commodity analysts Mintec have reported that potato prices were 8% higher in the first week of November than in October.

image credit: Getty Images

Greggs CEO on his vegan transformation

Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside is trialling veganism after watching Netflix documentary The Game Changers, which sees a number of current and former athletes talk about the health benefits of going vegan.


Further rumbles over Pizza Express debt

Hony Capital, the Chinese owners of Pizza Express, have refused to engage with bondholders who want to inject extra money into the business to reduce the company's debt. The deal would reportedly involve the ownership consortium giving up control of Pizza Express and writing off shareholder loans totalling £500m, while also opening up Pizza Express’ books and records.


Food trends

The plant-based meat market

The Financial Times bites into the figures behind the growing plant-based meat market, which is estimated by UBS to reach $50bn in value by 2025. Start-ups have raised significant venture capital funding over the last few years, including Impossible Foods ($688m), Just ($220m) and Beyond Meat ($122). However, the article also notes that plant-based alternatives are still a tiny fraction of the overall meat market and are expected to make up just 2.5% of total volume consumed by 2025. There are plenty of challenges ahead, too: the meat industry has lobbied in Europe and the US to ban the use of the word ‘meat’ for plant-based products, while other critics have questioned the environmental and health credentials of these foodstuffs.

image credit: Just

The plant-based dairy market

More striking changes are taking place in the dairy industry, particularly in America, where the news of the closure of the country’s largest milk producer, Dean Foods, has led to a much closer look at the marketplace. Dairy Farmers of America, a co-operative which represents 30% of the nation’s milk producers, said sales from 2018 were down $1.1bn compared to the previous year. Soy, almond, oat and other alternatives are already thought to make up 13% of the milk market, thanks to concerns about health, the environment and animal welfare


From little acorns…

The Telegraph jumps on the acorn eating trend with a piece that looks at the science behind the ingredient. Some studies have suggested that the fruit of the oak tree improve the relationships between the gut and the brain, while also containing protein and polyphenols. Miles Irving, author of Forager Handbook, suggests using them in desserts or to make coffee. 


Food interviews

Josh Niland, chef and author of The Whole Fish Cookbook

The stream of interviews with fin-to-tail pioneer Josh Niland continues to flow in, with The Guardian the latest to speak to the Aussie chef about his approach to using the entire fish in his recipes, which include fish kiev, fish black pudding and fish fat chocolate caramel slice. Off the back of the release of The Whole Fish Cookbook, it feels like the whole world is singing Niland’s praises, from British culinary figures like Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, to kings of the global fine dining world like René Redzepi and Grant Achatz.


Christian Härtnagel, Lidl’s UK chief executive

“We will never be beaten on price. If someone tries to beat us they will fail, so let’s see where this ends,” says Christian Härtnagel to The Sunday Times. The paper writes that under the 37-year-old CEO’s watch, “every tiny decorative flourish is scrutinised in a finely tuned operation that scrapes by on razor-thin margins.”


Food reviews

Vardo, London SW3 4LY; Ozone Coffee Roasters, London EC2A 4AQ

Marina O’Loughlin does a double shift at cafes this week. At Vardo, the new opening from the people behind Caravan, she is overwhelmed by the menu of fashionable ingredients, which include baharat and furikake. “And it’s mostly executed with delicious dash: the gleeful mess of grilled corncobs slathered with salted pandan coconut milk, sesame and chilli; spiced chickpeas and puffy flatbread humming with garam masala-spiked labneh and fenugreek chilli butter,” she writes of the Chelsea restaurant. However, she reserves greater praise for Ozone Coffee Roasters, set in the less affluent but trendier locale of Shoreditch. Here, she praises “trout in the lightest, crispest tempura batter with a forceful sauce gribiche and ‘herb stem salt’ for dipping; the catch of the day, a fat tranche of crunchy-skinned hake with braised onions and globe artichoke stained with herb oil.”

image credit: Vardo

Live Seafood, Manchester M11 3WU

In imitation of the seafood restaurants found in China, live tanks of turbot, eel, carp, crab and geoduck form the backdrop to this Mancunian spot, which “leans towards the Sichuan end” of Chinese cuisine. Commencing with freshly cooked salt-and-pepper crab and clams in black bean sauce, Jay Rayner gets stuck into all sorts of seafood delights, including a whole sea bass: “Courtesy of mind-boggling kitchen knife gymnastics, it has been transformed into a fish-porcupine hybrid. The flesh has become thick battered fingers which have risen up in the fryer to point accusingly. It’s then drenched in a sweet garlic sauce. God, it’s good.”


Henry & Joe's, Berkshire RG14 5DD

Kathyrn Flett temporarily absconds from London to dissect what makes for a successful new restaurant in the Berkshire town of Newbury. Mains consist of a pork cutlet with braised cheek, salt-baked pineapple, crushed pumpkin and anchovy as well as cod with celeriac, caramelised kohlrabi, black pudding and walnut ketchup. The restaurant even dips into the trend for making Marmite-flavoured recipes (here, it’s a hollandaise to accompany chips).

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