Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Patisserie Valerie on verge of administration while Deliveroo unveils plans for calorie labelling

The news, reviews and trends from January 19-20, including taking Caribbean cuisine beyond jerk chicken and Leon’s warning to diners with severe allergies.

21 January 2019
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Food news

Deliveroo restaurants to display calories

Deliveroo is encouraging restaurants to sign up to its calorie-labelling plan, with Burger King, KFC, Yo Sushi and Jamie’s Italian among those already on board. The move is designed to show consumers that takeaways aren’t necessarily as unhealthy as is often thought, reports the Telegraph, and pre-empts plans by Government to force all chains to display calorie information on menus. Deliveroo’s plans will see the calorie content of individual items displayed at the point of ordering from February, as well as a system that will highlight dishes that are low in fat, salt and sugar.


Retail property devalued

The Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has instructed valuers to be “aware of the potential for significant changes in value” in retail properties, reports the TimesThe decline of high-street shopping has led to a sharp decline in the perceived value of retail assets, notes the paper, adding that industry sources have revealed that “several institutional landlords are covertly marketing properties using non-disclosure agreements, to avoid low-ball offers becoming public and stoking panic.”


Patisserie Valerie saga poised to end in administration

After months of uncertainly following allegations of financial fraud, bakery chain Patisserie Valerie may be about to collapse. An agreement protecting it from action to recover debts expired on Friday, reports the Guardian, and if a new deal is not struck then lenders could potentially demand repayment of monies owed – thought to amount to nearly £10m – forcing the company into administration.


Pizza Express falls prey to scavengers

Vulture funds appear to be hovering over Pizza Express, according to the Sunday Times, which says that opportunistic investors could snap up the company’s debt with a view to taking control. The chain’s bonds are trading at 47p in the pound, compared with 90p a year ago.

image credit: Pizza Express

Higgidy’s pastry profits plummet

Pie maker Higgidy had losses of £180,000 last year, after the cost of investing in vegan pies and pastry-free frittatas absorbed the 6% increase in sales  from 2017 to 2018. The rising cost of raw ingredients also ate away at the £25.3m pre-tax profits, according to the Sunday Times.


Asda-Sainsbury’s merger may face new hurdle

Tesco and Morrisons could block the Asda-Sainsbury’s merger even if it is approved by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), according to the Telegraph. The CMA is expected to demand the sale of around 100 large stores as part of the deal, with a possible added condition that the sales be to credible competitors like Tesco and Morrisons. If the pair refused to buy the stores, therefore, the proposed Asda-Sainsbury’s merger could collapse.


Schoolchildren ordering Maccy Ds for brekkie

A Sunday Times investigation claims to have found evidence that Uber Eats is delivering McDonald’s meals to schools, ignoring rules designed to tackle childhood obesity. As part of an exclusive deal to deliver McDonald’s items to consumers, Uber Eats agreed to enforce a ban on sending items like chicken nuggets and Big Macs to educational institutions, but couriers are flouting this regulation, according to the report.


Closing date (re)set for Graze auction

The bidding war between Unilever, Kellogg’s and PepsiCo for healthy-snack company Graze will come to a close next month, after the deadline for offers was extended. “The £300m auction was supposed to close before Christmas, but the company’s US private equity owner, Carlyle, pushed back the date to the end of February,” notes the Sunday Times.

image credit: Graze

Funerary odes for fallen M&S stores

Following news of the latest Marks & Spencer stores closures, the Guardian takes a look at the 17 towns that are scheduled to lose their M&S.


Fruit and vegetable entries outgrow floral arrangements

The majority of the 71 finalists for the Britain in Bloom competition have opted to showcase fruit and veg rather than ornamental flowers, reports the Telegraph. This year, the UK’s largest horticultural contest features a number of gardens that grow edible plants for free community consumption, with the aim of encouraging people to eat more fresh produce.


Leon warns off customers with severe allergies

Leon is advising consumers with severe allergies not to visit its stores, as the chain says it cannot guarantee there will be no traces of allergens in its food, according to the Times. In the wake of the death of a Pret a Manger customer due to an allergic reaction, a number of restaurants have taken measures to emphasise that they cannot absolutely prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen, including Frankie and Benny’s, which issues allergy advice on iPads.


Food trends

A trip to the Caribbean

As Food Spark noted last year, there’s been a striking growth in Caribbean cuisine in recent times – a fact explored by the Guardian in an article that takes a look at the growing diversity of Caribbean offerings, from chef James Cochran’s fine dining take to Nyamming’s Caribbean and West African fusion.

image credit: Nyamming

Axe hovers over British butchers

As the number of British butchers continues to fall, the Guardian takes a look at some of the reasons behind the shrinking vendors, from rising costs to the increase in vegetarianism and flexitarianism. Some are bucking the trend by stocking cuts from rare breeds unavailable in supermarkets, while places like Hill & Szrok are offering consumers a “butcher-bistro” combo, vending meat in the day but transforming into a restaurant at night.


Food reviews

Pucci, London W1S 1FX

“Ludicrous in an extremely appealing way,” this Italian joint in Mayfair succeeds with its Roman-style pizzas with thin, crisp bases, writes Jay Rayner, particularly with one boasting “nose-tickling nduja and snowy burrata.” Also praised are the beef brisket – “long-braised then pulled into tangles and slicked with lip-sticking jus” – accompanied by hummus and the crispy-skinned duck breast with pomegranate molasses and mashed sweet potato.


The Creameries, Manchester M21 0SD

Dining on butter pie and traditional British dumplings, Marina O’Loughlin praises the unpretty fare at this Mancunian newcomer, admiring the “intense culinary industry… on show for all in the long, open kitchen: home-curing and smoking, yoghurt- and butter-making, baking of cakes and pastries.” Meats here are all wild, she notes, except for the goat.

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