Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: McDonald's CEO fired and 2019’s Christmas ads

All the news, reviews and trends from November 2-3, including new figures on plant-based sales and the reignited foie gras debate.

4 November 2019
animal welfareChristmaschocolateconfectioneryrestaurant openingsupermarketsvegan

Food news

Meat-free meals continue to rise

British retailers have seen sales of meat-free food rise 18% over the past year. While just 3% of the UK describe themselves as vegan, 21% identify as flexitarian. According to The Grocer, the UK market for meat-free food is now worth £474.5m, with around 61% of the population buying more meat-free products now than a year ago.


Head of McDonald's fired for romantic entanglement

The CEO of McDonald's has been removed from his position following revelations of a relationship with an employee, contravening the corporation's regulations. “Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on,” Steve Easterbrook said in an email to staff, sent after directors of the fast-food chain voted to terminate his contract on Friday.


Department store boasts vegan chocolatier

Selfridges claims it now has the largest vegan chocolate counter in the country, after opening its brand-new confectionery hall, which features a vegan chocolatier with options selected by Brighton-based Be Chocolat by Michel Clement. The move comes after similar actions taken by both Fortnum & Mason and Harvey Nichols to refresh their sweet selections.


New York ban reignites foie gras debate

Will Britain follow in the steps of New York and ban foie gras? While the proprietor of London-based French fine dining establishment Otto’s calls the move a fad, Labour plans to ban the foodstuff at the earliest opportunity, according to shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman, citing the cruelty of the force-feeding process known as gavage, which is used to obtain fattened goose and duck livers. A YouGov poll in July found 79% of Brits support a move to restrict consumption. However, while Britain has already forbidden the production of foie gras, some experts have suggested a ban on imports might contravene World Trade Organisation regulations.

image credit: Getty Images

Christmas adverts begin screening

This weekend saw the first spate of retailer Christmas ads for 2019. Iceland’s boasts a tie-up with the upcoming sequel to Disney hit Frozen, while Asda’s features a young girl spreading Christmas joy throughout her local town with the power of “Santa’s leftover magic.” Marks and Spencer’s advert is expected to drop this week, while Tesco, Sainsbury’s and John Lewis will reveal theirs after Remembrance Day.


Asda extends deadline for new contracts

Asda’s hourly-paid employees who have not yet agreed to sign new contracts have been given a week-long extension to do so before they face the sack. Although the new deal will increase basic hourly pay, there has been reluctance by some staff to sign it due to the fact that it will also end paid holidays and premium pay on most bank holidays, as well as reduce the number of better-paid night shifts.


Food interviews

Daniel Humm, head chef of Eleven Madison Park and Davies and Brook

Ahead of the grand unveiling of Davies and Brook – one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings this year – The Sunday Times speaks to its head chef Daniel Humm, the man behind Eleven Madison Park (previous World’s 50 Best Restaurants winner and holder of three Michelin stars). “I think my goal with the food is to really enhance the atmosphere,” he tells the paper. “I want it to feel casual at times. I want it to feel communal at times. I want it to have a sense of humour at times.” The menu is set to include a signature dish from Eleven Madison Park, duck glazed with lavender and honey, as well as crispy rice salad with citrus-marinated yellowtail; winter squab with bitter greens, bird’s eye chilli, lemongrass and crispy shallot crumble; and grilled short rib with fermented mint, poached endive and mojo vinaigrette.

image credit: Eleven Madison Park

Food reviews

Liu Xiaomian at the Jackalope, London W1G 7EG and The Red Lion, Canterbury CT3 4BA

Marina O’Loughlin goes two for one this week, visiting a pair of pubs with very different menus. Chinese pop-up Liu Xiaomian focuses on Chongqing-style noodles, offering customers the chance to customise their predominantly pork-based bowls with a whole range of ingredients, including coriander, sesame paste, crunchy soybeans, vinegar, beansprouts, pickles, soy sauce, ginger oil and chilli oil. The Red Lion, meanwhile, boasts house-made charcuterie as well as “slabs of the rosiest venison,” which “come with what can only be described as savoury black forest gateau: crumbly dark chocolate ‘sponge’ topped with pickled cherries and rose petals and tasting of hazelnuts and caramelised butter.”


Interlude, West Sussex RH13 6PP

Part of the Leonardslee estate, this restaurant nabbed its first Michelin star at 2019’s ceremony, after less than a year in operation. The focus is on South African food, primarily displayed through two tasting menus. Kathyrn Flett opts for the Garden Experience, which includes chicken-skin crackers (“hung from twigs planted in a flowerpot, with a dippable seed-splattered buttermilk accompaniment,”) a ‘cigar’ of amasi (SA’s fermented milk), and an oyster cream, Exmoor caviar and nettle combo.

image credit: Interlude

Mikaku, Glasgow G1 3EF

Izakayas are all the rage in the UK at the moment, from London all the way to Glasgow, as Jay Rayner discovers. His meal largely consists of a selection of small plates, including chicken karaage (“that ludicrously compelling combination of crispy and salty; of soft, tenderised meat steamed in its shell, and crumbly bits that mustn’t be allowed to escape”), wakame salad (“ribbons of seaweed, with just the right bite, in a soy and sesame dressing”) and grilled skewers of pork, beef and chicken with spring onion (“smoky and seared in all the right places”).

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