As 2017 draws to a close, we look at some of the year's most popular stories on www.thecaterer.com
1 Great British Menu 2017 line-up announced
In April 2017, the 24-strong chef line-up for this year's Great British Menu competition on BBC Two was revealed. Celebrating 140 of tennis tournament the Wimbledon Championships, the chefs' creations had to fit the theme of ‘a Taste of Summer'. Former Murano head chef Pip Lacey, who is soon to open her own restaurant, Hicce, won the chance to serve the starter, Tommy Banks from the Michelin-starred Black Swan at Oldstead created the fish course, and Michael Bremner from Brighton's 64 Degrees cooked the main. Selin Kiazim of London's Oklava beat seven finalists to cook dessert.
2 Cherish Finden leaves the Langham
It emerged that Cherish Finden was leaving her role as executive pastry chef at the five-AA-starred the Langham in Marylebone, London, in February this year. In 2016 Finden was thrown into the limelight when she became a judge on the BBC Two show Great British Bake Off: Crème de la Crème. She gained a reputation for being meticulous in her search for perfection. Finden currently works as a freelance consultant.
3 New regulations on cooking burgers come into force
There was some consternation in February this year when the Food Standards Agency released details of new regulations stating that all businesses serving minced meat products, such as burgers, must obtain specific approval to serve them anything less than thoroughly cooked. The new regulations took effect following a consultation period by the agency and also apply to caterers selling less well-cooked burgers.
4 The top 30 Best Places to Work in Hospitality 2017
In June, The Caterer, in partnership with PurpleCubed, revealed the Best Places to Work in Hospitality 2017. Topping the list of 30 operators was Firmdale Hotels, Tim and Kit Kemp's collection of luxurious boutique hotels. Second was the CD Pub Co and third was the London Edition.
Each of the 30 Best Places to Work winners was recommended by the majority of its employees. Between 77% and 92% of their staff at each firm filled out an anonymous survey created by people retention expert Purple Cubed.
5 Cateys 2017 shortlist revealed
It was no surprise that the shortlist for the most-anticipated awards in the hospitality industry should make it to the top of thecaterer.com's most-read stories for the year. Released in May, the shortlist was the culmination of a judging process at London's Dorchester hotel that involved 140 judges.
6 Simon Rogan to leave Claridge's
Simon Rogan terminated a three-year partnership with Claridge's hotel in London at the end of April. He launched Fera at Claridge's in May 2014 on a 10-year management agreement with a five-year break clause. He has since announced that he will open Roganic in London on the site of what was David Moore's L'Autre Pied in Marylebone.
7 Former Ramsay Scholar Alex Thain dies
There was sad news in August this year when it emerged that former Gordon Ramsay scholar Alex Thain had died aged just 37. Thain enjoyed a career spanning some of Scotland's top culinary destinations, including Cameron House, Andy Murray's Cromlix hotel and Crossbasket Castle. He joined Big Bite Catering as head chef in June from his role as head chef at Crossbasket Castle.
Alan Boslem, director of Big Bite Catering, said: "In the short time I worked with Alex, he proved to be a very capable chef with flair in all areas of the kitchen. What impressed me more about Alex was his ability to encourage the younger members of the team, his good manners and undoubted love for family life."
8 Michelin removes stars from 15 restaurants
Rather than who won new Michelin stars, it was the story about the 15 restaurants that lost them that topped the bill during our Michelin coverage in October. Most restaurants were deleted after closing or because of a change of chef. They included Dabbous in London, which closed up as chef-proprietor Ollie Dabbous focused on launching the restaurant at the newly opened Henrietta hotel in Covent Garden, and the five-AA-star Bath Priory, which saw the departure of Sam Moody in September 2016.
9 Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons named number one in Hoteliers' Hotels Top 100
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, launched by chef Raymond Blanc in 1984, was named as the best in the country by the UK's leading hoteliers. The five-red-AA-star, 32-bedroom property in Great Milton, Oxfordshire, was voted number one in the Hoteliers' Hotels Top 100 list, unveiled by The Caterer and Sky in July.
10 Hotel Cateys 2017 shortlist announced
Another very popular set of awards, the shortlist for The Caterer's Hotel Cateys 2017 found its way into the our top 20 most-read stories. The awards, in their 11th year, are the hotel industry's only truly independent benchmark of excellence. The shortlist included those from hotels including the Blythswood Square, Glasgow; Headland hotels, Newquay, Cornwall; the Lowry hotel, Salford; and the Whitebrook, near Monmouth.
11 Woodford restaurant operator in administration
In February 2017, the operator of the award-winning Woodford restaurant in South Woodford, north-east London, went into administration. M&Co Services owed at least £50,000 to four separate creditors. Creditors were notified of the company's voluntary liquidation on 14 February. The restaurant continued to trade until lunchtime on 15 February, when diners were reportedly suddenly ushered out and the locks changed.
The Woodford opened in March 2016 with head chef Ben Murphy at the helm, later winning the Evening Standard newspaper's London Restaurant of the Year award and gaining a positive review from the late AA Gill.
12 Roy Ackerman, chef, restaurateur, facilitator, bon viveur, has died
Roy Ackerman, one of the hospitality industry's most recognisable and inspirational personalities, died in May. He was 75 and had suffered a stroke.
During a career that spanned more than 50 years, Ackerman came to occupy
a unique position within the industry. He campaigned endlessly to promote the benefits of working within restaurants and hotels and negotiated multiple deals that led to the launch of some of the capital's best-known restaurants, including Locanda Locatelli at the Hyatt Regency London - the Churchill and Theo Randall's restaurant at the InterContinental London Park Lane.
Equally, Ackerman was a bon viveur, who not only loved food and wine, but was also exceptionally knowledgeable about the subjects. He was also a well-respected operator in the world of publishing, film-making and art.
13 Tom Kerridge 'hugely disappointed' not to be relaunching the Rib Room
Tom Kerridge, chef-owner of the two-Michelin-starred Hand & Flowers in Marlow and the current holder of the Catey Chef of the Year title, announced in October that he would not be opening the Rib Room restaurant at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower as had been previously planned.
Kerridge was due to manage a renovated Rib Room bar and restaurant and operate it as a standalone site in 2017. However, Dubai Holdings, owner of Jumeirah, appeared to change its intentions for the Rib Room and the renovation, which was to accompany the relaunch under Kerridge this year, has not now taken place.
14 Mark Jordan to open Cow & Lobster in Jersey
Mark Jordan, former executive head chef of Jersey's Atlantic hotel, revealed in September that he would open a 140-seat restaurant focused on some of the island's key ingredients. Located on the waterfront in the heart of the financial sector of Jersey's capital, St Helier, Cow & Lobster by Mark Jordan offers a limited menu featuring oysters for starters, followed by burgers, steaks and lobster dishes.
Jordan, who spent 13 years at the one-Michelin-starred Atlantic hotel, owned by Patrick and Treena Burke, opened the restaurant in partnership with Jersey entrepreneur Jonathan Ruff, the owner of the island's Tamba theme park.
15 Head chef and GM sacked over one-star food hygiene rating
In November, it emerged that the head chef and general manager of the Thames Riviera hotel had been sacked over a one-star food hygiene rating. Galleon Hotels, which runs the 52-bedroom Thames Riviera hotel in Maidenhead, Berkshire, has recruited a new management team for the property since the result of the inspection by the Food Standards Agency.
The inspection in September found "major improvement necessary" in the management of food safety and "improvement necessary" in hygienic food handling, although the cleanliness and condition of the facilities was found to be "generally satisfactory". A statement from Galleon Hotels said it was "extremely disappointed" by the rating.
16 Beppo Buchanan-Smith in sudden departure from Isle of Eriska after sale of hotel
Leading hotelier Beppo Buchanan-Smith departed suddenly from the 25-bedroom Isle of Eriska hotel & spa, off the west coast of Scotland, in January, five months after selling the property to a Hong Kong-based company. Buchanan-Smith had been retained as a consultant on a two-year contract by the new owners, the family-owned business Creation Gem, upon the sale of the hotel, which had been owned by his family for more than 40 years.
17 Winners of Acorn Awards 2017 revealed
The winners of the 31st Acorn Awards were announced in May, in celebration of 30 of the industry's most talented stars aged under 30. The Acorn Award recipients collected their awards at a prize-giving lunch held at the privately owned, Grade-I stately home and five-AA-red-star hotel, Cliveden House in Taplow, Berkshire.
This year's winners came from a wide variety of sectors and departments. Among them were: Dale Bainbridge, head chef of Pollen Street Social in London; Tommy Banks, chef-proprietor of the Black Swan at Oldstead in North Yorkshire; Liam Barrie, managing director of the Marram Grass in Newborough, Anglesey; and Irene Forte, learning, development, quality and spas manager at Rocco Forte Hotels.
18 CH&Co Group and Harbour & Jones merge
In one of a series of mergers led by caterer CH&Co Group this year, independent caterer Harbour & Jones joined forces with the firm. That was followed later this year by another merger with events and catering business Concerto Group, creating a £300m-turnover business.
19 Daniel Clifford to reopen the Flitch of Bacon with new chef and menu
Daniel Clifford's Flitch of Bacon in Dunmow, Essex, reopened in April this year after a short closure, with a new head chef and new menu. The chef-patron of the two-Michelin-starred Midsummer House in Cambridge, admitted that since opening last year the Flitch wasn't working as a pub and that it would reopen with a more sophisticated menu to align itself more with Midsummer House.
"When I opened the Flitch, I wanted it to be a top-end pub. But pubs are not what I do. When people came [to the Flitch] they were expecting Midsummer House, or a toned-down version, so we decided that is what we are going to give them."
20 Michelin reveals 27 new Bib Gourmands for Great Britain and Ireland 2018 Guide
Continuing the Michelin coverage, the guide revealed the names of the 27 restaurants to win new Michelin Bib Gourmands in its guide to Great Britain and Ireland 2018. There were 10 new Bibs in London, including one for Acorn Award-winner Adam Handling, for the Frog E1 in Spitalfields. The rest of England saw eight new Bibs awarded, while Dublin had four restaurants to win the accolade for the first time. The Hare & Hounds in Aberthin, Cowbridge, won Wales's only new Bib Gourmand, and Noble in Holywood, Belfast, picked up the sole new Bib in Northern Ireland.
The Bib Gourmand recognises simple yet skilful cooking at a reasonable price, which last year was set at £28.
21 The mystery behind Heckfield Place
In June, The Caterer asked what had happened to the launch of luxury Hampshire country house hotel Heckfield Place. With an original opening planned for 2012 in time for the London 2012 Olympics, the hotel, owned by billionaire Gerald Chan, is still yet to welcome its first guests.
Details of the transformation of the 18th-century manor house, near Hook, from what used to be a training centre and wedding venue into a 70-bedroom hotel, were first announced in February 2011, with a prospective opening date of April 2012. Planning permission for the development was granted by Hart District Council in April 2009. By June, no opening date had ever been confirmed. In December it emerged that the hotel is now scheduled for a 2018 launch and Olivia Richli had been appointed as a new general manager.
22 Jeremy King: 'Stupid, short-sighted, xenophobic' Brexit will cost London restaurants
Veteran restaurateur Jeremy King labelled Brexit "stupid, short-sighted and xenophobic" and named it the single-biggest threat to the future of the London restaurant trade. King, who along with business partner Chris Corbin, runs some of the capital's top restaurants, including the Wolseley, the Delaunay, Brasserie Zédel and Bellanger, as well as the five-star, Catey-award-winning Beaumont hotel in Mayfair, was speaking as he collected a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Harden's London Restaurant awards in September.
23 Mark Greenaway targeted by union for unpaid trial shifts
Restaurant Mark Greenaway in Edinburgh was targeted by hospitality trade unionists for using unpaid trial shifts as part of its job interview process in July. The Better Than Zero group, a Scottish Trades Union Congress-supported group campaigning against zero-hour contracts and exploitation in the hospitality industry, published a post on Facebook that read: "Have you or anyone you know worked for Mark Greenaway restaurant in Edinburgh? We want to hear from youâ¦"
A spokesperson from Better Than Zero said: "We were sent a tip-off about working practices at Mark Greenaway's while we were gathering info on unpaid trial shifts. We know from several sources (past and present members of staff) that Mark Greenaway is using dozens of unpaid trial shifts per week to cover busy periods and use desperate young workers as a free cleaning service."
Responding to the statement, Greenaway said: "This is an untrue statement. I have never topped up my staff with free labour for the purposes of getting free labour." He added that the restaurant has a cleaner who has been employed by the restaurant for the past four years. Speaking to The Caterer, he said trial shifts would typically only last two to four hours, involve small tasks, such as serving bread and butter for waiting staff, or for a chef to prove basic skills and stand with him on the pass, with successful applicants paid for their trial once they started work.
24 Thomas Kochs to leave Hotel Café Royal for the Corinthia Hotel London
In April, The Caterer covered the news that leading London hotelier Thomas Kochs would step down as managing director of the Hotel Café Royal to take up the same position at the Corinthia Hotel London. It came 14 months after he joined the 160-bedroom hotel. Kochs has previously worked for five years as general manager at Claridge's until his departure in November 2015.
25 Robyn Roux, wife of Michel, has died
Robyn Roux, the wife of chef Michel Roux, owner of the Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire, died in November. She was 66. The couple met in Sydney in Robyn's native Australia in 1982 and soon after she moved to the UK. She originally studied drama and later worked in restaurants as a self-taught cook. Robyn played an active role at the Waterside Inn, including overseeing the interior design and looking after the staff. She was described by Michel Roux as his inspiration and support over their 35 years together.
Events not to miss in 2018
Travel Technology Europe
We predict that 2018 is going to be a big year in hotel tech. The Caterer and sister title Travolution are proud to be involved with Travel Technology Europe's thriving hotel feature.
21-22 February, Olympia London
In March 2018, Hotelympia returns with four new shows, providing a platform for restaurants, hotels, pubs, casual dining and contract caterers to meet, review and source from the finest suppliers. The Caterer is a lead media partner and we will be showcasing our latest batch of Product Excellence Award winners.
5-8 March, Excel London
In 2018 The Caterer will celebrate its 140th year at the heart of UK Hospitality, and the Cateys is the premier event in the calendar. We will present the 2018 winners to packed room of over 1,500 of the biggest names in the industry.
3 July, the Grosvenor, A JW Marriott Hotel, London
The Foodservice Cateys
2017 was an exciting year in foodservice with a huge amount of change, new launches, mergers and acquisitions. The Foodservice Cateys will celebrate the industry's highest performers and highlight its most innovate operators.
12 October, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge
The Independent Hotel Show
With high-end interiors, hotel software, business services and inspiration, the Independent Hotel Show has built an enviable reputation for time well spent. We'll be there, showcasing Inside Hotels and our Hotelier's Hotels list.
16-17 October, Olympia, London
The Hotel Cateys
We end the year on a high, with the UK's premier awards recognising those who go the extra mile to deliver fantastic guest experience and business results for the hotel sector. The Hotel Cateys have grown in stature to become one of the most respected awards in the hospitality industry.
23 November, Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge