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Chinese restaurants score worst in food hygiene scores – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

01 June 2010 by

Chinese restaurants score worst in food hygiene scores
Independent and the Daily Mail >>

Whitbread to raise £100m through private placement
Premier Inn and Costa Coffee owner Whitbread hopes to raise £100m this summer through a private placement with big institutions. The group wants to diversify its financing sources beyond its reliance on bank debt, which currently stands at £513m. Chief executive Alan Parker expects to complete the fundraising by September, two months before he leaves and is replaced by EasyJet chief executive Andy Harrison. The company's annual report revealed that Parker has already started collecting his pension, which will be worth just over £135,000, and has received a one-off payment of £5.4m. The report also revealed that Harrison will receive a basic salary of £700,000, Whitbread shares worth 175% of his basic pay (around £1.2m) and the option of shares worth £1m if he invests the same in buying stock. - 30 May, Read the full articles in the Independent on Sunday and the Sunday Times >>

Machismo eating trend that consumes live animals plans UK launch A gruesome US food movement whose penchant for eating live animals and unusual ethnic foods has become an internet phenomenon is now targeting the UK. New York club Gastronauts, the largest player in the 'machismo eating' trend (also known as food fetishism or adventurous dining), is seeking to open a London offshoot. The club picks restaurants and designs menu around unusual delicacies such as live octopus and lobster, sheep's eyeballs, lamb's brains and Asian balut, a poached duck egg containing a partially-formed bird embryo. But animal welfare charity Peta - which has already set the authorities on two New York restaurants that served live octopus in violation of anti-cruelty statutes, has pledged to fight the trend talking hold in Britain. Another barrier may come from the European Union, which is considering adding octopus to the list of animals protected by welfare laws. Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner described machismo eating as 'tacky' food tourism while British TV chef Jeremy Lee said it displayed "a stag night mentality", adding, "To reduce ethnic cuisine to some sort of challenge is frankly insulting to that culture." - 30 May, Read the full article in the Observer >>

Dine in the sky experience at Edinburgh Festival A table with chairs hoisted 100 feet in the air by a giant crane will offer visitors to this year's Edinburgh Festival the opportunity to dine with a bird's-eye view of the city. Up to 22 guests at a time can be fastened in to the chairs for 30-minute sky-high sessions of breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, as well as speciality events such as Burns Suppers. The Festival of the Sky experience, which will take place in Edinburgh's West Princes Street gardens, has toured cities in more than 30 countries, including Las Vegas and Paris. - 31 May, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >>

Cocktail entrepreneurs buy 10th Be At One site The founders of the Be At One chain of cocktail bars have bought their tenth outlet, the Legion in Shoreditch, East London. Rhys Oldfield, Steve Locke and Leigh Miller, who worked together as bartenders at TGI Friday's before opening their first Be At One Bar in 1998, plan another two openings this year and five next year, with London the current focus of operation. Oldfield added that the group could "comfortably reach 30 within the next four to five years". The cocktail bars boosted sales by almost 33% to £6.75m in the year to 31 March, and underlying earnings by 22% to £1.4m. - 31 May, Read the full article in The Times >>
'Meet and eat' dining club to launch in Edinburgh Entrepreneur Katherine Melton-Scott - who founded IT firm MacLelland and built up Katehllan Fine Food &Gifts in Fife - will launch an informal "meet and eat" dining club for professionals in Edinburgh next month. Lemon & Dine is based on a dining club Melton-Scott ran in Zurich, Switzerland. "It's a hybrid between social and business," said Melton-Scott. "I want to create a community for people that is dynamic and vibrant, where you can turn up and everything is organised for you." The website will launch next month, with events starting up at Edinburgh restaurants from September. In time, Melton-Scott wants to expand to full-day events and to target other cities such as Glasgow, Aberdeen, London, and some European cities. - 30 May, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >>

US owner tipped to sell Rachel's Organic for £20m Rachel's Organics, one of the UK's oldest organic dairy suppliers, could be sold for up to £20m by US owner, Dean Foods, which has hired NM Rothschild to look at options for the brand. Dean Foods, which owns more than 50 American dairy brands, has seen intense competition slash its share price to a 10-year low and has announced a restructure that will cut more than 500 jobs this year and $300m over three to five years. Rachel's Organics was established in 1966 when Rachel Rowlands took over the small Brynllys Farm in West Wales where her mother had been one of the first to sign up to the Soil Association in 1952. The company moved into yogurts, for which it is best known, by accident when freak snow storms blocked milk tankers from reaching the farm in 1982. It was acquired by Colorado-based Horizon Organic Dairy in 1999, which was itself snapped up Dean Foods five years later. - 30 May, Read the full articles in the Observer and the Sunday Telegraph >>

By Angela Frewin

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