25% of Michelin-starred restaurants accused of selling endangered fish
One-quarter of Michelin-starred restaurants inspected by the makers of The End of the Line (the award-winning documentary about the crisis in sea fish stocks) are accused of selling fish "as endangered as the giant panda". The documentary makers looked at the menus of more than 100 top restaurants and found seven of the 25 Michelin-starred restaurants surveyed were serving fish on the official red list of endangered species, with all but three offering at least one species on the "to avoid" list. Some 85% of all restaurants surveyed were selling "to avoid" species. The worst offenders were Nobu, notorious for keeping bluefin tuna on the menu, and J Sheekey (for selling Dover sole, monkfish, tiger prawns and skate). Both were awarded the lowest score of five red fish skeletons. Cocoon in Regent Street, One-O-One in the Sheraton Park Tower in Knighsbridge and Marylebone's Seaport restaurant were also reprimanded for selling endangered and "to avoid" species, while Rick Stein was awarded half a skeleton for serving halibut, wild salmon, turbot and Dover sole. The End of the Line will be aired on More4 on Tuesday, 20 October, at 10pm.
Read the full story in the Sunday Times >>
Bankers seek trade buyer for Regent Inns after MBO collapses
The bankers behind debt-burdened pub chain Regent Inns are to hold urgent talks with a potential trade buyer after a management buy-out collapsed on Friday when it failed to secure funding. The banking consortium, led by HSBC, was approached last Friday and will begin talks early this week. If they conclude successfully, the banks will put Regent Inns into a pre-pack administration and sell it directly to the new owner. The 90-strong Regent Inns group, which has net debts of £78.9m, has attracted interest in the past from the Orchid Group, Brook Leisure, Novus Leisure and 3D Entertainment, which is 49% owned by Luminar. The MBO, led by Regent chief executive John Leslie and former Pitcher & Piano boss Mike Dowell, had planned to save most of the firm's 2,000-plus jobs by offloading more than half of its Old Orleans restaurants to Punch Taverns. - 18 October, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>
Metcalfe to relaunch Itsu to offer "fast food with a conscience"
Julian Metcalfe, the co-founder of Pret A Manger, is planning to relaunch his sushi chain Itsu in a bid to offer "fast food with a conscience". The menu will be expanded with a range of rice, vegetable and noodle-based dishes starting from £2 that will include free-range chicken and freedom farm-reared shredded pork to attract consumers "who care about what they eat". "The food coming out of the big fast-food chains is chilling. Someone has to try to move fast food forward," said Metcalfe. "The question is, can anybody challenge the fast food giants, or is it going to be burgers forever?" The first converted Itsu is set to open in the City early next year. If successful, Metcalfe will seek joint venture partners to develop the chain - which currently has 23 outlets in London - across the country. - 17 October, Read the full article in The Times >>
Conran plans at least five new restaurant openings Restaurant and design guru Sir Terence Conran is planning to open at least five new restaurants despite the economic downturn, which the septuagenarian claims has provided property opportunities that would have been impossible four years ago. Conran intends to open three more outlets of his mid-priced Albion café concept next year and is in negotiations for Central London sites in Victoria, Regent's Park and Covent Garden. He also intends to open another restaurant-hotel along the lines of the Boundary project which opened in Shoreditch this January and a second flagship restaurant similar to the upmarket Lutyens, which launched in Fleet Street this summer. Conran sold his stake in Conran Restaurants (now D&D London) for a reported £100m three years ago. Â- 17 October, Read the full article in The Times >>
Caprice Holdings boosts Ebitda by 20% Restaurant group Caprice Holdings has announced a 20% boost to underlying profits as owner Richard Caring prepares to open a New York version of Le Caprice. The group, which includes some of London's top restaurants such as The Ivy, J Skeekey, and Scotts, as well as private members' club Annabel's, reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £16.7m in the year to 30 June 2009. Caring will open the overseas outpost of Le Caprice on New York's Fifth Avenue at the Pierre hotel at the end of the month. - 18 October, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>
Top five comfort foods named by academics
Beans on toast, sausage and mash, tomato soup, chicken and mushroom pie and macaroni cheese are the five top comfort foods, according to research carried out at the University of Sussex and commissioned by food supplier Heinz. Neuropsychologists taped electrodes to the heads of 16 volunteers to measure the electrical activity of their skin and heads while eating various foods. They analysed both the ingredients and the subjects' reactions to the smell, taste and colour of the dishes to work out a Comfort Index that measured how warming and filling the meals were and how certain foods triggered happy childhood memories. Dishes with simple ingredients and uniform colour proved to be more comforting than more complex meals such as curries and spaghetti. "The simpler the aroma the more easily it can be interpreted and memorised, consequently the response and emotion towards it is more powerful and immediate," said Dr David Lewis, who conducted the research. "We can see this clearly in the findings that the types of smells people find comforting are simple ones associated with home cooking." - 18 October, Read the full article in the Sunday Telegraph >>
By Angela Frewin
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