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Marco's 'Chopping Block' gets the chop on US TV – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

30 March 2009 by
Marco's 'Chopping Block' gets the chop on US TV – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Marco's ‘Chopping Block' gets the chop on US TV
Marco Pierre White's bid to emulate the TV success of his former protégé Gordon Ramsay in the USA has bombed as his debut show Chopping Block got the chop just three weeks after starting on NBC on 12 March. White was lambasted as "a bloated and gloating bully who nibbles dishes and either mildly praises or wildly assails those who threw them together" in the Washington Post. However other critics said show - in which White judges eight pairs of chefs trying to restore the fortunes of an abandoned New York restaurant - was too derivative of Hell's Kitchen, which is currently attracting eight million viewers in the US against Chopping Block's 2.5 million. Ramsay's Kitchen NightmaresRead the full article in the Independent >>

Police fear missing chef has come to harm
As the search to find missing York University chef Claudia Lawrence intensifies, police have expressed their fears that the 35-year-old may have come to harm. Lawrence disappeared on Wednesday 18 March after returning home when her shift at the University finished at 2.05pm. Police divers and search teams have been combing drains, a nature reserve close to her usual route to work, and acres of public land next to the University. Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, the senior investigating officer, believed it was "highly unlikely" that Lawrence had been abducted by a stranger and that she may have "come to harm". On Saturday, York City Football Club distributed flyers to fans at the game against Kidderminster while more than 10,000 people have signed up to a Facebook group set up by Lawrence's friends appealing for help in the search. - 29 March, Read the full article in the Independent and the Observer >>

Scottish caterers urged to post hygiene scores on doors Around 44,000 sandwich shops, restaurants, hotels, pubs and food retailers in Scotland will be urged to display their hygiene scores on their doors. Proponents say showing the "Pass" or "Improvements Required" notices issued by food safety inspectors will help drive up standards, protect against food poisoning and warn consumers of potential problems. But many restaurateurs fear the negative results will unduly worry consumers and penalise businesses for minor infringements as they do not indicate the seriousness of the problems. The move follows pilots with five Scottish councils, which said the scheme had been successful in improving standards (although Aberdeen noted that no premises had opted to display "Improvements Required" notices). While the hygiene results will be shown on council websites, their display in-store is currently voluntary. However, Peter Midgley, the head of the Food Standard Agency's food law enforcement branch, said this would be reviewed as the scheme progresses. - 29 March, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >>

G20 summit will separate Jamie Oliver from expectant wife
Tight security around the G20 summit this week will leave celebrity chef Jamie Oliver out of touch with his wife Jools the day before she is expected to give birth to the couple's third child. Oliver will be cooking for US President Barack Obama and other world leaders at a dinner hosted by Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street. But the chef will be forced to hand in his mobile phone when he enters Number 10 for security reasons. A source close to Jamie said, "Jools will be at a clinic nearby and Jamie will have to be alerted through No10 officials if the baby starts to arrive. Nothing will stop him getting there - unless some protesters get in the way." - 29 March, Read the full article in the Mail on Sunday >>

Anouska Hempel rumoured to be buying back Blakes hotel
Deloitte, the administrator of failed London buy-to-let hotel operator GuestInvest, is believed to be close to selling Blakes hotel for an estimated £25m. It is rumoured that Lady Weinburg (designer Anouska Hempel) who created the boutique hotel and sold it to GuestInvest in 2007 for an estimated £43m is connected to the prospective buyer. The hotel had not yet been converted to the buy-to-let format. Deloitte, which has just sold a GuestInvest property in Leinster Square, has also offered to buy out the 250 to 300 individual investors in the Nest and Jones hotels in Bayswater and The Brewery in Chiswell Street. It hopes this move will revitalise the stalled sale of the three uncompleted properties after offers - including one of £50m from GuestInvest founder Johnny Sandelson - were rejected as too low. However, while those who have exchanged contracts on 999-year leases have been given their £50,000 deposits back in full, experts suspect that investors who completed the purchase will be lucky to get back 50p in the pound. - 28 March, Read the full article in The Times >>

Starbucks plans to open more London outlets
The recession is providing struggling coffee shop chain Starbucks with plenty of opportunities to expand its presence in Greater London, where it already has 260 branches. Chief executive Howard Schultz - whose recent comments on the UK economy sparked a furious response from Peter Mandelson - said the group would continue to open more stores to maintain its market lead. UK and Ireland chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer said the recession-driven failure of high street retailers and the first drop in retail rents since the early nineties was enabling Starbucks to snap up key sites at bargain prices. The strategy - unveiled at the launch of Starbucks new instant coffee drink, VIA Ready Brew - follows the announcement a month ago of plans to axe 6,700 of the group's 167,000 staff and to close 300 underperforming coffee shops as first-quarter profits plunged by 69%. - 28 March, Read the full article in the Daily Telegraph >>

By Angela Frewin

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