Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Sainsbury’s introduces disruptor brands and Patisserie Valerie arrests

The news, reviews and trends from June 22-23, including why avocado is finally falling off menus and the truth about DNA-based diets.

24 June 2019
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Food news

Arrests made over alleged fraud at Patisserie Valerie

Five people have been arrested in connection with the alleged accounting fraud at Patisserie Valerie, according to The Guardian. The Serious Fraud Office released a statement over the weekend revealing that the arrests took place last Tuesday.


Waitrose sells properties to shore up finances

Waitrose is nearing a deal to sell eight of its properties, as parent John Lewis Partnership attempts to relieve some of the pressure on its finances, writes The Sunday Times. The sites, located in places like Bath, Reading and Market Harborough, should fetch at least £170m, according to property sources. Waitrose is expected to lease the properties back from the buyers and continue to operate them under the terms of the deal.


Taste the future at Sainsbury’s

Salmon skin crisp peddlers Sea Chips, alcoholic kombucha concept Bootleg Booch and vegan meal replacement company Feed are among the 11 disruptor brands going on sale in 69 Sainsbury’s stores today as part of the supermarket’s Taste of the Future scheme. “Aimed at millennials, the range will be prominently displayed in dedicated bays for just 14 weeks, with shoppers asked to tell the grocery chain what it should keep to stay ahead of fast-evolving food and drink trends,” reports The Guardian.

Listeria deaths fuel food safety concerns at hospitals

The Times claims that at least one NHS hospital is still not storing food safely in the wake of the listeria outbreak. In an email sent to senior staff on Wednesday, Cathy Winfield, the executive chief nurse at the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Derby Hospital, wrote: “We have clear evidence that we have food fridges not properly checked and food stored incorrectly. This is a patient safety issue.”


£1m programme educates Scottish children on food

A £1m scheme to teach Scottish children about the country’s food industry was announced over the weekend by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Royal Highland Show. Backed by the Royal Highland Education Trust, the Soil Association and Education Scotland, the programme will fund visits to farms and healthy cooking classes, reports The Times.


Food trends

Is this the end of the avocado?

Backlash against the avocado appears to be gathering steam, according to The Times, as a growing number of cafes and restaurants question the ethicalness of the supply chain. The popular so-called ‘superfood’ has been linked to deforestation, water shortages and even the drug trade – Mexican cartels are estimated to make £150m a year by selling British consumers ‘blood avocados’ grown on plantations they have seized from local farmers.

image credit: Getty Images

DNA-based diets under the microscope

The Telegraph digs into the fad for DNA-based diets, questioning whether genetic tests can really help people eat healthier. Though a personalised approach is recommended by the doctors that the paper consults, the overall response is summed up in the words of Dr Frances Elmslie, a consultant clinical geneticist at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: “The science... is not powerful enough to predict independently of all the other risk factors [something like obesity or diabetes].” In fact, a recent study by King’s College London, Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford University found that in some cases DNA is related to less than 20% of the body's response to food.


Food interviews

David Gingell, co-founder of Primeur, Westerns Laundry and Jolene

The Sunday Times talks to the restaurateur about his new concept, Fitzroy, located in Cornwall, a far cry from his successful London-based restaurants. Focused on fish, the menu will depend on seasonal seafood and a smidge of foraging. “We’ll get our sardines from Mevagissey, just down the road, Fowey mussels of course, and I’ll be catching mackerel off the rocks,” Gingell says. “We’re making friends around Cornwall, from goat farmers nearby to vegetables sourced from Good Earth Growers. Rock samphire, sea cabbage, sea beets… there’s all this stuff you can get for free and it’s lovely.”


Food reviews

Octopus, Guernsey GY1 1AX

Scallop 'beards' that have been floured and deep-fried serve as an appetiser to the meal at this Guernsey joint, which also does sidelines in street food and ramen. Jay Rayner chooses to focus on the seafood bites – and not the appalling service – including a hot seafood pot of mussels, prawns, scallops and octopus, served in a choice of mariniere, Thai curry or spicy bouillabaisse broth.

image credit: Octopus

Sette, Bulgari Hotel, London SW1X 7QA

“Sette could be any expensive, faux-Italian restaurant in any expensive mall in any town, anywhere,” writes Marina O’Loughlin of the latest eatery to occupy the ill-fated space in the Bulgari Hotel. Beef short rib swim “in sticky meat juice, its puddingy farro ‘risotto’ dolloped onto the plate with all the finesse of a disgruntled dinner lady,” while duck and foie gras ravioli “are strange triangular packages that seep a granular beige goo, an overreduced, sickly squeeze of marsala scribbled on top.”

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