Michelin-starred chef Ferran Adria accused of poisoning diners with additives – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

12 October 2009 by
Michelin-starred chef Ferran Adria accused of poisoning diners with additives – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Michelin-starred chef Ferran Adria accused of poisoning diners with additives
German food writer Jörg Zipprick has accused Ferran Adria of inadvertently poisoning diners at his three-Michelin-starred, £300-pound-a-head El Bulli restaurant in Spain with additives. Adria, who is revered by many as the world's best chef, is a proponent of molecular gastronomy like Britain's Heston Blumenthal. Zipprick claims the menus should carry health warnings about the additives in his new book, The Unappetising Underside of Molecular CookingRead the full article in The Sunday Time >>

Rocco Forte puts Le Richemond hotel in Geneva on the market
Sir Rocco Forte has hired Jones Lang LaSalle to find a buyer for Le Richemond hotel in Geneva, one of 13 luxury hotels owned by his company, Rocco Forte Collection, in a move that has surprised his competitors. He acquired the hotel, which has recently undergone an expensive refurbishment, for £43m in 2004 as a joint venture with Lloyds Banking Group's HBOS unit. Le Richemond was built in 1875 and is regarded as one of Europe's leading hotels. - 11 October, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

Carluccio's plans to grow into nationwide chain
Italian restaurant and deli operator Carluccio's is searching for sites beyond its stronghold in the South, the South West and the Midlands as it plans to expand into a nationwide chain. Managing director Simon Kossoff has been seeking new sites for the past six months and is keen to debut in Scotland with restaurants in Edinburgh and Glasgow. "We think we're now in a position to go nationwide and have the infrastructure to do so," he said. The group is also looking to open more franchises in the UAE to join its Dubai outlet. The 45-strong chain issued an upbeat trading update yesterday, prompting analysts to upgrade projections of full-year profits from £4.5m to £4.7m. The group stopped using two-for-one promotions in March to avoid damaging the brand and plans to offset the estimated £1m hit from changes to tipping regulations through menu changes and better buying terms. - 9 October, Read the full article in The Times >> Punch to slash value of estate by £600m as profits tumble by 40% Punch Taverns is expected to slash the value of its estate by 10% or £620m this Wednesday when it reports annual profits that analysts predict will fall by 40% to £162m, down from £261m the previous year. The group has already reduced the value of its estate - once listed at almost £6.2bn - by £440m in the face of falling property prices and pub takings. Punch investor and Schroders fund manager Andy Brough recently argued that the group should break itself up to pay off its £3.5b debt. The call has been resisted by Punch, which has cut net debt by more than £1b in the past year by selling pubs to buy back bonds. It recently raised £375m from investors to avoid having to dispose of core parts of its pub estate. The bulk of Punch's 8,300 pubs are run by tenants who are locked into a beer tie that many complain puts them at a competitive disadvantage. A protest group launched on Facebook last week that aims to reduce the power of landlords such as Punch and Enterprise Inns. - 11 October, Read the full article in the Sunday Times and Scotland on Sunday >>
Scottish restaurant will encourage diners to cook their own meals A Scottish-Italian businessman plans to open a restaurant in Glasgow, called Cookie, that will encourage paying diners to cook their own food in the restaurant kitchen under the supervision of trained head chef Ian Wilson. Waiters will then serve the temporary chefs' efforts to their guests. Trained architect Domenico Del Priore said Cookie was inspired by neighbourhood family restaurants in Italy and Austria which have tried the cook-your-own concept. "We are seeking to break down the barriers between food production, distribution, preparation and consumption," Del Priore said. "It is called ‘horizontal cooking' and customers can come to Cookie for a whole host of occasions and cook for themselves, their friends or community group. It will act like a cooking club." Elizabeth Carter, editor of the Good Food Guide, believed diners would relish the idea of cooking with good ingredients under expert guidance. But food writer and 1991 Masterchef Sue Lawrence thought the idea was "ridiculous" and David Maguire, head of the Glasgow Restaurateurs Association, saw no place in a commercial kitchen for diners untrained in food prep, health and safety. - 11 October, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >> Speculation grows that Whitbread will offload Costa Coffee
Whitbread chief executive Alan Parker is expected to face questions over speculation that it is considering selling of Costa Coffee when he unveils the group's interim results on Tuesday. Under pressure to slim down, the group has offloaded many businesses such Marriott hotels, Deep Pan Pizza, TGI Friday, and health club David Lloyd. Although Costa is performing well, analysts believe the recent merger of Whitbread's Premier Inn budget hotel business with its Beefeater restaurants and Brewers Fayre pubs to save £25m a year has left the coffee chain 'out on a limb'. "We would not discount the group potentially disposing of Costa Coffee when the time is right, or pub restaurants, and we could also envisage a scenario where owned real estate is used as a source of future funds for budget hotel expansion," said Nomura analyst Simon Larkin. Whitbread is expected to announce a 7% fall in underlying pre-tax interim profits. - 11 October, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >> Americans flock to eat gut-busting cheeseburger in a sugary doughnut The Craz-E Burger, the latest taste sensation sweeping America, has been branded a nutritionist's nightmare. It combines a streaky-bacon wrapped cheeseburger with a buttered, grilled and glazed doughnut in place of the traditional bun. The fat- and sugar-laden result, which takes just 10 minutes to prepare, contains a massive 1,500 calories - more if it is deep-fried. The burger was discovered by accident by chef in Decatur, Georgia who ran out of burger baps and used doughnuts instead. It hit the headlines this week at the Big E agricultural fair in Massachusetts , where customers were consuming up to 1,000 burgers a day. ¬- 9 October, Read the full article in the Daily Telegraph >>

Waiters serving cappuccinos and fish and chips boost bingo business The Rank Group has introduced a waiter service to its Mecca bingo club in Beeston, Nottingham, in a bid to boost flagging business and snatch market share from rivals. Waiters at the £5m, 35,000 sq fit club bring cappuccinos, wine and good-quality fish and chips to customers' tables during the games. The club has also been split between the traditionally quiet gaming room and louder bar areas where groups can socialises. The move has helped the club attract 4,500 visits a week and has doubled average spend per head on food and drink to £4.50. Rank plans to convert another two clubs next year, possibly in Scotland and Birmingham, at a cost of £1.5m each. The group's overall bingo business has seen customer visits drop by 3% in the 14 weeks to 4 October. - 10 October, Read the full article in the Mail on Sunday >>

By Angela Frewin

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