Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: GBK's CVA and the latest on Patisserie Valerie

The news, reviews and trends from October 13-14, including how scientists are turning coffee waste into electricity and why the world's cows are in crisis.

15 October 2018
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Food news

Patisserie Valerie has cake on its face

All the major papers continued to report on the Patisserie Valerie debacle over the weekend, with news Friday evening that the company would stay afloat after raising just over £15m by issuing new shares to investors. While that is being processed, chairman Luke Johnson announced he would lend the company £20m of his own money. Accountants Grant Thornton have come under fire for failing to spot the chain’s £20m black hole, while reports emerged that almost £10m had been spent in overdrafts – something Johnson and his board said they knew nothing about.


Enforcing folic acid in flour

After years of hemming and hawing, mandatory folic acid fortification of flour is to come into effect within weeks, according to the Guardian. Increased intake of folic acid by pregnant women reduces the risk of babies developing neutral tube defects, which have been linked to a whole host of disabling and fatal illnesses.


Will Gourmet Burger Kitchen close more sites?

After quietly shuttering locations in Bolton, Southport and Newport, Gourmet Burger Kitchen is expected to reveal a formal company voluntary agreement, as it seeks to staunch losses via rent cuts and site closures, writes the Sunday Times.

Full of beans

Scientists have discovered how to turn coffee waste into electricity, in what the Guardian says is a world first. Working together, the University of Surrey and Colombian researchers transformed liquid runoff from the processing of coffee cherries into fuel cell energy.


Harry Ramsden in the red

Fish-and-chip shop Harry Ramsden has revealed a £4.9m pre-tax loss for the year to the end of 2017. The chain had to stump up £2.4m after closing several sites, which it dubbed “not viable in the long term,” reports the Telegraph.


Cost of Christmas turkey to rise

The chairman of the British Turkey Federation says the price of turkey will increase this Christmas, after farmers were forced to deal with a 5% to 7% rise in costs. This is down to a combination of the increased price of wheat – used to feed the festive fowl – and a rise in cost of luring over workers from Eastern Europe, reports the Guardian.

Getty Images

Cows in crisis

Genetic breeding programmes for cattle could lead to long-term disaster, according to the Guardian. Nearly 100 native livestock breeds went extinct between 2000 and 2014, as farmers only promote the survival of animals that produce the most milk and have the most meat. However, these cows are more vulnerable to disease due to lack of genetic diversity.


Amazon tax chorus swells

Brian Bickell, CEO of retail landlord Shaftesbury, has joined calls for a “level playing field” between bricks-and-mortal shops and online retailers like Amazon, saying the current business rates system was “probably out of date 50 years ago.” The Telegraph remarks that this is likely to heap more pressure on government to address the issue.


Food trends

Ireland is high on hemp

The growing consumer interest in the alleged health properties of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) is a boon for Irish distributors and farmers, notes an article in the Sunday Times. Hemp juice and CBD-infused chocolate are among the products contributing to a €595m global industry – one that is set to grow to €2.3bn by 2022, according to figures from Technavio.


Food reviews

Parsonage Grill, Oxford OX2 6NN

“An efficient system for the extraction of profit,” Jay Rayner bemoans the assembly-line menu at this “perfectly civilised, grown-up restaurant.” Filled with ennui by his “extremely dull” chicken wellington, he goes on to note that the “smoked haddock tart on hollandaise sauce fits the same model as the wellington, being something that can quickly be flashed through the oven.”

The Greenhouse, London W1J 5NY

Lured by the promise of a new chef with a new menu, Marina O’Loughlin is less disappointed by the food – “yellow tomato gelled into a disc and topped with confit red tomato and anchovy; pristine, lactic burrata and dinky barbajuans” – than she is by the accompanying service. “At this level and these prices, service should be immaculate, but it frequently descends into an idiotic pantomime of whispering and glaring at us from behind pillars, and musical chairs of stools for handbags.”

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