Our final five categories in this year's Caterer and Hotelkeeper Excellence in Food & Drink Awards, in association with 3663 Frist for Foodservice, included two judged by the harshest of critics. A group of school-aged children gathered to taste meals, snacks and drinks developed especially for them, and they didn't hold back when it came to voicing their opinions. Here's what they, and our other judges, had to say.
ACCOMPANIMENTS AND INGREDIENTS
AAK Foodservice: Prep Premium Infused Oils
Premium-quality olive oil is mixed with fresh ingredients to make the Prep Premium Infused Oils range. Lemon, garlic, basil and chilli flavours are available in lightweight onelitre PET packs with drizzle caps for easy pouring. The infused oils provide a handy alternative to fresh herbs with a short shelf life, and they come ready-blended so that caterers are free to work on other kitchen tasks.
To buy it, callAAK Foodservice
Coxon's Kitchen: Roman Vinaigre
Herbs once favoured by the Romans are used to infuse the Roman-period vinaigre. Cape Wine is brewed and fermented naturally over oak and infused with cinnamon. Black pepper gives a spicy fruitiness, while camomile adds a warm floral finish on the palate and to the nose.
To buy it, callCoxon's Kitchen
Coxon's Kitchen: Ancient Greek Vinaigre
The Ancient Greek Vinaigre uses only three or four spices for balance and simplicity, to bring out the individual flavours. The sweetness comes from vine fruits, slight bitterness from coriander and a clean fresh acidity from wine. Infused and filtered over oak, the flavour is described as being fresh, clean, sweet and sour on the palate, while the aroma is light, fruity and fragrant.
To buy it, callCoxon's Kitchen01386 830299
Barilla: Whole Wheat Spaghetti
Barilla has launched healthy whole wheat, or integrale, pasta in two popular shapes. Spaghetti Integrale and Fusilli Integrale are described as being light in colour and texture, with the added benefit of being a high-fibre product. The pasta cooks well, producing an appealing amber colour and maintaining its shape without sticking together.
To buy it, call36630870 366 3000
Brakes: Premiere Chunky Chilli Chutney
This semi-set chunky savoury jam, with the added warmth of red Peruvian chillies, is handmade in small batches by chefs to deliver quality, texture and flavour.
With the increasing popularity of chutney in the UK, this product can add a kick to a variety of dishes such as the classic ploughman's lunch in restaurants and bars. The chunky chutney includes tomatoes (22%), red peppers (15%), red chillies (4%), garlic and ginger.
To buy it, callBrakes0845 606 9090
Nestlé Professional: Maggi Multi-Use Tomato Sauce
Positioned as an authentic and high-quality alternative to home-made tomato sauce, Maggi multi-use tomato sauces are a convenient ready-made accompaniment or ingredient for time-stretched caterers. The low-fat sauces are made using sunflower and olive oils and come in three varieties: Multi-Use Tomato Sauce; Multi-Use Tomato Sauce with Spring Vegetables; and Multi-Use Tomato Sauce with Mixed Peppers.
To buy it, call
Nestlé Professional 0800 742842
FAIRTRADE, ORGANIC AND ETHICAL PRODUCTS
Brakes: Premiere Gold One Cup Tea Bags
This Ethical Trade Partnership tea is part of Brakes own-brand range of ethical beverages, which includes Fairtrade coffee and sugar sticks. The blend is made up of Kenyan tea, picked from the east of the Rift Valley at the foothills of Mount Kenya, Assam from India and a high-grown Ceylon tea.
To buy it, callhttp://www.nbest.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Brakes ](http://www.brake.co.uk)0845 606 9090
Brakes: Smoked Hake
The hake is caught off the coast of South Africa and is wood-smoked in Scotland by a supplier with a long history of smoking whitefish. It is not dyed. Hake lends itself particularly well to smoking due to its sweet flavour.
By the end of the 1970s the fishery had been brought to near-ruin by the unrestricted activities of international distant-water fleets trawling the south-east Atlantic. The South African government and industry worked together to turn this around, and in April 2004 it became the first African fishery to be accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Hake is now by far the most valuable fish resource landed in South Africa.
To buy it, callBrakes0845 606 9090
Global Ethics: One Water
One is a bottled water brand which donates all its profits to fund the development of roundabout-powered water pumps, called PlayPumps, in Africa. As children spin on the roundabout, fresh, clean water is pumped from as deep as 100m underground into a storage tank for use by the entire community.
To buy it, callGlobal Ethics
020 7841 2929
RDA Organic: Fresh Functional Superfruit Pomegranate, Blueberry and Evesse Apple
The organic fruit in this drink is selected for its high content of essential vitamins and minerals and is high in antioxidants. There are no concentrates, no added sugar, no water and no preservatives in the drink, which consists of 100% pure organic fruit. This includes Evesse apples, which are grown in Herefordshire and contain high levels of flavanols, leading to them being dubbed Britain's own superfruit.
To buy it, callRDA Organic0870 833 8732
KIDS' MAIN MEALS
Apetito: Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Created as part of Apetito's Education Range, the meatballs contain pork (34%), eggs, onions, tomato, tomato pur‚e, rapeseed and sunflower oil, basil, garlic, carrot, celery and parsley. Cooked from frozen, the meatballs comply with Food Standards Agency sodium guidelines and are suitable for serving in 100g portion sizes in schools.
To buy it, call [Apetito](http://www.apetito.co.uk)
Green Gourmet: Biryani Bake
This high-protein vegetable biryani bake has been developed by menu planners, cooks and children from 20 local authorities. The uncoated 60g bake is made with rice, peas and diced red peppers and is not fried in manufacture, so it isn't restricted by the School Food Trust's rules on deep-fried foods. It also meets the SFT's rules on vegetarian products, meeting Target Nutrient Standards including that for protein.
To buy it, callGreen Gourmet01453 847979
Pasta King: Maiale Meatballs Pasta Meal
The Maiale Meatballs sauce offers a nutritious blend of onions, carrots and tomatoes, sourced in the Extremadura region of Spain. The tomatoes, which are cultivated in open fields, have a sweet flavour and give the meal an authentic Mediterranean taste. The 100% durum wheat pasta comes from a traditional family business in Italy, and the spicy pork meatballs are enhanced with paprika.
Maiale Meatballs pasta meal contains just 225 calories, is free from trans fats, artificial colours and flavours, is low in sugar and contains less than 1g of salt.
To buy it, callPasta King0800 458 7898
Skewered meats, bread wraps and various sauces are supplied together in a kit to offer caterers a varied and tasty school lunchtime meal.
Four varieties of 80g precooked skewers are available, including chicken, chicken tikka, mixed kebab and minted lamb kofta. The bread is an 8in Lebanese kiln-fired wrap that is thicker than standard wraps to prevent it splitting or leaking. The ambient sauces include peri peri, mint and yogurt, and BBQ.
A 55g cooked chicken breast has been specifically developed to meet nutritional guidelines for schools, and the company also offers menu suggestions and branding support.
To buy it, callRollover
KIDS' SNACKS & DRINKS
Britvic Soft Drinks: Really Wild Drinks
Exclusively available to schools is the range of Really Wild Drinks in six natural juice flavours. These include Apple & Blackcurrant and Orange & Pineapple, made with 70% juice and 30% water, and available in both still and sparkling versions. Apple & Prickly Pear and Orange & Mango flavours are made from 100% pure juice.
Each drink counts as one of the five recommended daily portions of fruit and vegetables, and each understated can is made from recyclable 100% aluminium.
A proportion of sales is donated to the Rainforest Foundation to provide education programmes to children in Cameroon.
To buy it, callBritvic0845 758 1718
Premier Foods: Chocolate Angel Delight
Dessert classic Angel Delight has been reformulated with the removal of hydrogenated vegetable oils, artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners to meet school guidelines. Eight flavours are available - chocolate, banana, butterscotch, raspberry, strawberry, lemon, white chocolate and peach. Reduced-fat cocoa powder and flavourings are used to make the chocolate-flavour dessert. Simple to prepare, the ambient dessert is also easy to store and low on wastage.
To buy it, callPremier Foods
01727 815850RDA Organic: Fruit Juice
Chilled RDA Organic Squeezy 100% Pure Organic Mango, Apple and Orange Fruit Juice is free from added sugar, added water, concentrates, colours and preservatives, and also has no "bits" - to appeal to kids.
Made with 100% organic fruit, the juice is supplied in squeezy packaging which features a patented automatic closure valve to avoid leaks and spillages. The drink, which also comes in blackcurrant, apple and banana flavour, provides a portion of the recommended fruit five-a-day and the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
To buy it, callRDA Organic
0870 833 8732
Coxon's Kitchen: Range of Vinegars
The range consists of three vinegars inspired by eras dating as far back as 44BC. The Medieval Ale-Gar has hints of chocolate, cinnamon and roasted malt and can be used in the same way as balsamic vinegar; Ancient Greek Vinaigre is light and floral with hints of rose, coriander and vine fruits; and Roman Vinaigre is infused with cinnamon, camomile and peppercorn and sweetened with honey.
To buy it, call [Naturally Best
Monty's Bakehouse: Hot Posh Scoffins
Described as a hybrid of a scone and a muffin, with a twist on the flavour profile, Scoffin is a bake-in-pack hot snack originally developed for the airline industry. There are two varieties - Mushroom, Gruyère & Emmental and Smoked Bacon & Parmesan Cheese - with an emphasis on ingredient provenance.
To buy it, callMonty's Bakehouse
RDA Organic: Sqqquishy Smoothie
This children's drink contains only premium organic fruit and provides the RDA of vitamin C and one of a child's fruit-and-veg five-a-day. It is Soil Association-certified and contains no additives. The lightweight packaging features a patented automatic closure valve that makes it virtually spillproof.
To buy it, callRDA Organic
0870 833 8732
Single Source:DairystixSemi-Skimmed Milk UHT
Already commonly used for sugar, coffee and sauces, the stick format has now been developed for milk portions. The format is claimed to take up 40% less space than the more familiar milk jiggers.
The milk is portioned aseptically into the sticks, and the process has been certified by the Leatherhead Food International research association.
The sticks contain farm-assured milk from West Country farms and have a shelf life of six months.
To buy it, callSingle Source01952 234134
A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR
3663 First for Foodservice believes that excellence should be at the forefront of the caterer's mind, and encourages continuous development across the industry. Featuring products that meet and exceed the needs and expectations of the customer can help ensure that you provide an excellent offering.
Ben Woodhouse, catering development controller at 3663, says: "It's obvious that food products need to meet the different needs of consumers, whether it be the health-conscious, the family or the indulgent diner. These needs are continuously changing, and it's important for businesses to keep up to date with current trends and consumer requirements, so they can carry on delivering excellence that will keep footfall high.
"For example, provenance and traceability are high up the consumer agenda at present, so in line with the increasing demand for meat and poultry produced in the UK and carrying an assured-quality mark, including a choice of accredited meat products - carrying Red Tractor, BPEX (British Pig Executive), EBLEX (English Beef and Lamb Executive), and Quality Standard Beef and Lamb quality marks - can ensure you meet consumer demand and go part of the way to delivering an outstanding offering."
Here are some tips on how keeping up with current trends, and responding to them by featuring exceptional products on your menu, can help to provide an improved offering and maximise sales.
Catering for children
Point of excellence: ability to offer a quality children's menu Travel has influenced children's eating over the past decade, exposing them to new flavour profiles and styles of dishes. Try including Indian, Mexican or Spanish flavours to appeal to children dining at your restaurant. Smaller portions of main meal dishes aimed at older children also make a great children's menu.
Point of excellence: ability to state provenances of products Try featuring dishes with provenance to satisfy current customer demand for knowing where food has originated. You can capitalise on this by choosing your products carefully. Specifying the product's region of origin - for example, "hand-cured Danish ham" instead of simply "ham" - is proven to make dishes sound more appealing.
Point of excellence: ability to offer local produce Try sourcing local meat products from reliable sources. Research shows that 63% of consumers are prepared to pay more for locally produced meat when dining out, and suggests that consumers commonly associate menu transparency with the perceived quality of establishments and their level of customer care.