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French Jamie Oliver out to improve nation's eating habits – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

17 November 2008 by

French Jamie Oliver out to improve nation's eating habits A French chef who is seen as the Gallic answer to Jamie Oliver has, like the UK chef, turned his attention from campaigning on school meals to tackling his country's deteriorating eating and cooking standards. In a new series on M6 called Chef Fights Back, 30-year-old chef Cyril Lignac attempts to wean factory workers off a diet of pizza and microwave meals, much like Oliver's efforts in Rotherham in the recent Ministry of Food16 November, Read the full article in the Observer >>

Pubs may be forced to turn down the volume
Pubs and bars may soon be forced to lower the volume of music, according to the Government's latest proposal to fight binge drinking. A draft document suggests landlords would have to keep noise below 70 decibels (equivalent to the level of sound from a hairdryer) after research showed that loud music encouraged customers to buy more alcohol and drink it faster by drowning out conversation and arousing the brain. According to the study by France's University of South Brittany, the average number of drinks ordered by customers rose from 2.6 to 3.4 when sound levels were louder, while the time taken to drink a small beer fell from 14 to 11 minutes. Landlords said a noise limits would scupper televised sports and comedy nights and leave jukeboxes barely audible. Mark Hastings of the British Beer & Pub Association said the Government already had the power to place conditions on individual licences. "That would target the problem venues rather than banning music, dancing, comedy and entertainment for everyone," he said. - 16 November, Read the full article in the Mail on Sunday >>

Fine wine prices squeezed by the credit crunch The credit crunch has now bitten into sales of fine wines, where prices have shown their most dramatic plunge in seven years according to the Liv-ex 100 Fine Wine index. A fall in consumer spending and the influence of funds that hold wine as investments saw prices plummet by 12.4% in October, which accounted for two-thirds of the 16% drop seen over the past four months. The dearest Bordeaux first growths from 2005 have been hardest hit, with prices collapsing by 25%. Restaurant sales have also slumped by 40% to 50% according to sommeliers quoted in Decanter magazine. Conversely, cheap supermarkets such as Lidl have enjoyed a 25% boost to wine sales as consumers hunt for bargains to drink at home. - 15 November, Read the full article in The Times >>

UK casino expansion runs out of steam Recent Government moves have helped scupper its watered-down plans to expand Britain's casinos as the downturn in consumer spending, the smoking ban, the big increase in gaming duty last April and the scrapping of Section 21 gaming machines have made most of the remaining projects uneconomic. Of the remaining licences for eight large and eight small casinos, only one is said to be remotely near fruition. This is a venture between the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) and Malaysian-controlled Genting Stanleyto create a £90million leisure complex and casino near the NEC. A licence for one regional supercasino, which was awarded to Manchester, was subsequently killed off by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. - 15 November, Read the full article in The Times >>

Camel milk chocolate coming to Europe
The latest innovation in the confectionary world is chocolate made from camel milk. Al Nassma (Arabic for a cool, desert breeze) plans to break into the European chocolate market with its own special recipe that took nearly three years to develop. Available only by special order within the United Arab Emirates, Al-Nassma chocolate is said to taste slightly richer and sweeter than traditional chocolate but, at £4.50 a bar, sells for more. Although camel milk has long been a staple among Bedouin tribes, it has never been used in chocolate before. According to Martin van Almsick, the general manager of Al-Nassma: "Nobody thought about using camel milk before, then people from the camel world met people from the chocolate world and it occurred to everybody that it was obvious." - 15 November, Read the full article in The Times >>

By Angela Frewin

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