Fresh Careers Fair

Hugely successful event at Fresh Careers Fair and we met some fabulous candidates. We have created over 200 new roles in the last year and continue to roll out at pace resulting in strong career paths in our passionate foodie business with our teams at heart of our operations & values.

Are we seeing a sushi revolution?

Are we seeing a sushi revolution?

Last year in November Sushi Gourmet was crowned the 2017 Gold Product Winner at the Quality Food Awards; we spoke to Jason Danciger, managing director of the Hana Group UK, the company behind the incredible overall winner

Hana Group operate internationally and offer fresh, handmade sushi through a number of different brand names. Its Sushi Gourmet brand has exclusive concessions in Sainsbury’s stores offering fresh sushi handmade daily in-store and others.

How did the concept begin?

Interestingly enough sushi is simply huge in America and most retailers have sushi in one form or another being made fresh in front of customers. It is not a product that likes being made in a factory and being chilled for days. It just doesn’t really work and it comes out hard and like bullets! In America they’ve been doing this for a while and somehow it missed the UK and went to France and to Europe.

It’s very big in Europe and most countries; France, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Italy have had fresh handmade sushi for a few years now. The UK was behind what was really a growing global phenomenon.

The second element is that Japanese food has been in triple digit growth and has already overtaken French food.

I’ve spent most of my career in European or French food and it is amazing to see that France has been totally eclipsed by the growth in Japanese food. The concept there was started by two entrepreneurs Jaques & Laurent who had a Japanese restaurant and began by selling their sushi to a local supermarket. Over there supermarkets have a lot of autonomy; there isn’t the same central buying structure we have in UK. So they sold into their second supermarket and they carried on that way and, four years later, they had a couple of hundred sites. Then they acquired the Genji brand from the States and increased to 400 sites overnight – 600 globally.

When did you get involved?

I started 18 months ago working on the initial piece, developing the business, recipes, food, teams, training, set up & installation and we’ve had enjoyed really good growth. We started with 10 sites and grew from there and now operate over fifty whilst continuing to expand.

Is the deal with Sainsbury’s exclusive?
We won the business through passing a number of tough tests and whilst we have an exclusive deal with them for the Sushi Gourmet brand, we have other brands as well and we’re growing working with Whole Foods, Baxster Story, Auchan, Monoprix, Carrefour and others.

We have planned expansion into retail spaces and we have partners across the world. We’ve quadrupled in the year.

Tell us about your ingredients, since this is such an important element in good sushi.

We buy as much local produce as we possibly can. The less it travels, the better it is. Obviously certain ingredients – for example ripe avocados – we can’t grown in this country, but everything else is grown and sourced diligently as locally as possible.

There’s a huge skill in buying fish; you can’t just buy a piece of salmon and cut it up for sushi or sashimi. We use round hooks when fishing so that it doesn’t catch turtles and we use a long line so that it doesn’t drag up the sea bed.

Tuna specifically is super-frozen to minus 60 degrees in nanoseconds. You can take a fish and superfreeze it and when you defrost it, it starts flapping because its nerves are still intact. That’s how fresh it is is.

We buy sashimi grade fish that is certified as being from good waters. Even the farm fish we buy is certified as higher welfare by RSPCA so that there are not too many together fighting for space. The water is fresh and we use pure, natural feed. There is lots of care taken on that salmon because a really good quality product is absolutely key.

Is there a specific demographic that is driving this huge demand for your product?

It isn’t just young health-conscious females; there’s a broad range of people. When I’ve engaged with customers, you are as likely to have folks come in with high vis jackets and big boots who would normally have a curry of a night choosing sushi to keep the figure trim. The youth market is huge for this as a trend – I think because it is simple and easy to enjoy.

Since everything is made fresh and locally, how do you get sufficiently trained staff?

We opened our own university! We have a unit at Leadenhall Market and we train our staff at our University of Sushi there. The products the students make are for sale and they get all their training there. It isn’t a business that’s easy. From procurement to techniques for cutting salmon takes a huge amount of skill and we train our own people for six weeks before they are allowed to work at one of our sites. They learn knife skills and health & safety rules, but they also learn how to season, how to taste rice and how to handroll sushi.

We will recruit anyone from any background. We look for people with a strong work ethic, team work and togetherness. At the speed we’re opening, we’re hiring more than 10 people every single week.

What did you think of your Quality Food Award Gold Q win?

There were two elements to our win. Winning the Food To Go category, well, having been in this industry for 35 years, I was confident that we would get somewhere in that category. We are the only ones rolling by hand; a lot of sushi producers use machines and it squeezes the rice and makes it hard. We’ve done so much product development on it and done blind tastings and I was confident of the quality of the product.

However, to win the overall Q award, that was a huge, welcome surprise. For such a niche product to win such broad appeal was sensational. We all worked so hard last year and to get that after only our first year of trading was a huge uplift to everyone in our business.

Metropolis Publishing Ltd holds its Quality Food Awards (QFA) at the Grosvenor House hotel, 9th November 2017
Photography by Fergus Burnett
Accreditation required with all use – ‘’


Sushi Gourmet, run by Hana Group, picked up an award and won in its Food To Go category at the Quality Food Awards.

Sushi Gourmet was also awarded with much coveted title of overall Gold Q award after being singly picked out for its quality. A Gold Q Award is the ultimate accolade which is awarded to the one product and group that stands out from all other entries. It is selected from the winners of all the main categories and represents the ‘best of the best’.

Judges said “ Sushi has been available as food to go in supermarkets for several years, but this new trend is for counters where sushi is prepared fresh daily. This makes for a premium high quality product that really delivers on customer’s expectation for food-to-go to start matching quality of restaurants.
The judges were blown away by the fresh, delicate flavours in this sushi selection.
Daily onsite preparation of sushi in a retail setting adds theatre for the consumer and enhances the story of quality food freshly made.
Among the profuse praise for this product was that it was ‘very high quality’ with ‘fabulous flavours, textures and visual impact’
First to market Sushi Gourmet is only group provider that does not use machines and prepares sushi in front of customers by hand ensuring better quality product than those made by industrial robots.
Hana Group, the leading sushi and Asian hot food service provider, will have opened its 50th sushi kiosks in the UK by December 2017 with plans for more rapid expansion throughout the country – Hana Group aims to transform the buying and sampling experience in UK
Sushi Gourmet has introduced an innovative concept of sushi kiosks within large retail outlets and supermarkets. Each day the skilled sushi chefs create a wide selection of fresh handmade sushi and teppanyaki in-store, right in front of the customers.
Jason Danciger, Managing Director of Hana Group UK who after starting just 18 months ago has quadrupled the group in last year added, “We are delighted to be bringing the theatre of Japanese cuisine to UK food halls with Sushi Gourmet and other brands. Our advantage is that we offer sensational, fresh sushi and hot Japanese dishes of outstanding quality and price. We work with skilled craftspeople with extensive training in order to ensure a constant level of excellence and expertise.”

London Produce Show – Hospitality Conference

New food conference launches at London Produce Show in June

New hospitality conference free for chefs & buyers launches at London Produce Show in June where I will be chairing a credible & eclectic mix of well known foodies and trend setters and promises to be an event not to miss.

See details below & see you on 8th June ……. Jason


The one-day event is dedicated to ‘Putting Produce First’ in the foodservice industry

We have enhanced the London Produce Show and Conference 2016 (LPS) by adding more unique events into the schedule and we are pleased to announce the agenda for the brand new Foodservice Forum on June 8, 2016 from 8.45am – 5.25pm in the Ballroom of the Grosvenor House Hotel, a JW Marriott Hotel on London’s iconic Park Lane.

The Foodservice Forum is a one-day, interactive seminar programme dedicated to the UK’s diverse and thriving foodservice industry. The forum theme ‘Putting Produce First’ will address the question of how to get more fresh produce on restaurant plates and encourage more chefs and development chefs to have produce front of mind when developing menus for restaurants of all shapes, genres and size.

The Foodservice Forum will add another level of value to the LPS16 and will appeal to culinary heavy hitters and major UK and international foodservice companies. The programme will include seminars, panel discussions, chef demonstrations, and ideation sessions – all with a view to improving the performance of fresh produce across the foodservice and catering sectors. A top-class group of speakers and panelists will cover topics including: Produce – The New Fast Food, menu customisation for consumers, committing to zero food waste, creating nutritional and exciting meals for youngsters and much more. The forum is sponsored by Reynolds, Westlands, ChefsKit, WilcoxBurchmore and Feedback – the London Produce Show’s official charity partner.

For marketers of fresh produce, the morning’s keynote speaker is a must-see. Food-lover Andy Clarke was the long-time producer of smash-hit BBC television show Saturday Kitchen and knows a thing or too about getting products into the rarified atmosphere of prime-time TV. He will help you find the elements of your fresh produce mix that will not only excite consumers, but also the chefs who want to cook with them on air. And if you fancy a bit of that limelight yourself, Andy will also have a few tips on overcoming camera shyness.

The LPS16 Foodservice Forum will provide the opportunity to learn from industry experts about what it takes to be part of the UK’s burgeoning food scene and how to grow your foodservice business. It is a networking opportunity to share experiences with foodservice suppliers, top chefs and fresh produce experts.

The day will be hosted by Food Retailer and Restaurateur Jason Danciger a Paris-trained chef, former M&S head of hospitality and Food and Beverage Director for Wyvale, and now chairman of Espresso Board for HEJ Coffee.


How can we get more fresh produce on restaurant plates and encourage more chefs to have produce front of mind when developing menus?


9.15am – INTRODUCTION by Jim Prevor

9.25am – Jim introduces host – Jason Danciger, a Paris-trained chef, an ex-M&S head of hospitality and fresh counters, once responsible for cafes and restaurants at Wyevale, and now chairman of Espresso Board, Hej

Jason Danciger, Ian Nottage, Chef Director at Reynolds and Sean Burlinson, Director of Food at POD – one of the new produce-centric fast-food chains – start the day with a lively discussion about the evolving use of produce in one of the fastest growing foodservice sectors, talk through some of POD’s best-selling lines and analyse what suppliers can do to be part of the story.

Richie Bissett at Allegra Strategies – Setting the foodservice scene
Richie is a Senior Client Manager at Allegra Strategies, a leading-edge research and strategy consultancy based in central London. He sets the scene for the rest of the day – with a broad overview of the latest market developments and trends, as well as some unique insight into leading players and market segments.

Andy Clarke – TV Producer for BBC1, BBC Bristol, creator of and contributor to Crumbs Magazine
Andy has been involved in TV cookery for 10 years and produced ‘Saturday Kitchen Live’ on BBC1 for seven of them. After starting his TV producing career with ‘Richard & Judy’ he worked on children’s classic ‘Blue Peter’ for a number of years. Andy then paired his TV know-how with a life-long love affair with food and drink on Saturday Kitchen. A keen cook and wine enthusiast, Andy has recently been busy training chefs who aren’t used to cooking on TV by helping them make the transition from kitchen to camera. Andy will be discussing how to produce TV around seasonal fresh produce. He will give tips to chefs and the produce industry on how to get fresh produce on TV, how to pitch your products to TV production companies and also a few pointers on how to overcome camera shyness.


A successful menu is rarely going to be purely about the person developing the menu; it’s also about giving the consumer what they want in a way that makes sound commercial sense. The Foodservice Forum panel discusses how to develop attractive menus that both make money and delight consumers.

Jason Danciger – Chairman
Ian Nottage, Chef Director, Reynolds
Sean Burlinson, Director of Food, POD
Stefan Catoui, Co-founder and Product Director, Vita Mojo
Nicholas St. Peter – Executive Chef at Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel

Students from Hotelschool the Hague, Oxford Brookes and Springboard develop solutions to a series of practical scenarios from different foodservice settings, with the help of delegates from the sector


Feedback is an environmental organisation that campaigns to reduce food waste at every level of the food system. It intends to catalyse action on eliminating food waste globally, working with governments, international institutions, businesses, NGOs, grassroots organisations and the public to change society’s attitude toward wasting food. The panellists have made it their mission to reduce food waste too and Feedback hosts a debate around a topic that’s on everyone’s agenda.

Edd Colbert Feedback Campaign & Research Manager – Chairman
Mark Linehan – MD of Sustainable Restaurant Association
Adrian Collischon – Chef Director at Eden Caterers
Mark Zornes – Founder of Winnow Solutions
Justin Horne – Founder of Tiny Leaf

Celia Brooks – Food Writer, Cookery Book Author, London Gastrotour Host
Celia’s inventive style of vegetarian cooking has made her an established name on the cookery shelf. She has written eight cookbooks including the international bestseller “New Vegetarian”, and has contributed to many others. She conveys her passion for food in every way possible, through books, journalism, consulting, live demos, and has her own business called “Gastrotours”, conducting tours around London’s foodie hotspots. Celia will discuss how even though less than 2% of the population follows a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, restaurants are creating dishes to appeal the the rest of the 98% with veg-centric or plant-based dishes. Increasing the vegetable items on your menu while appealing to a larger audience is about flavour enhancement and cooking technique, not necessarily about being meat free.

3.15pm FRESH 4 KIDS
Speaker – Oli Blanc, London Produce Show & Conference 2016 Ambassador
Oli, who has developed Henri Le Worm and a group of friends, a cartoon series aimed at enthusing children about fruit and vegetables, asks who the industry need to target in order to increase consumption of produce amongst the youngest consumers of foodservice menus- and what are the key messages and products that might make a difference?


Reynolds development chef Diane Camp and Daniel Acevedo and Sarah Wasserman from top vegetarian restaurant Mildred’s – creating one of the meals from Mildred’s menu and explaining the thought process that went into creating that menu option in the first place. – would also highlight the importance of development chefs working with their customers to support menu development at this session

4.45pm PANEL – LPS16 CHEFS
What do chefs need from produce suppliers and are they getting it? Find out from three of our demo chefs at LPS16

Jason Danciger – Chairman
Jesse Dunford Wood – Head Chef Parlour
Damian Wawrzyniak – Owner of Fine Art of Dining
Hari Ghotra – Tamarind & Tamarind Kitchen Owner of

5.25pm WRAP-UP

The day is free for chefs and fresh produce buyers to attend. For all others, there is a fee of £99. Spaces are limited so book your place now! Click here to view the full schedule.

The Foodservice Forum will be followed by the London Produce Show and Conference’s opening cocktail reception, the largest annual social gathering in the UK’s fresh produce calendar with 750+ industry professionals from around the world, in the Great Room from 6:30pm to 8.30pm at the Grosvenor House Hotel.

We also recommend you book a hotel room at the LPS16 venue, the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane. Not only will you benefit from the convenience of having the LPS on your doorstep during the show dates but you can also take advantage of pre and post-event networking with other attendees and exhibitors. We have a limited number of rooms available for LPS attendees. Make your reservation now before they sell out.

For more information on the LPS Foodservice Forum visit or email

An incredible year for F&B at Wyevale Garden Centres


Wyevale Garden Centres picked up the award for the regional café chain of the year at the Café Quality Food Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel this month.

This highlights two great years improving the offer, the environment & customer service resulting in strong LFL growth and creation of a number of strong concepts.

The team have won a stream of awards this year for best new concept (midas), CR (lunch business), design (restaurant & bar design award) and my favourite ‘Greatest F&B Team’ (Garden Trade News & HTA)


Garden centre coffee house wins new concept award

The development of quality coffee shops in garden centres is a trend which has been noticed over the past few years – and now, the Coffee Grounds concept of the Wyevale garden centre in Endsleigh has won the prize for ‘best restaurant or bar in another space’ at the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards.

These awards are the main such scheme for the licensed trade, and cocktail bars and pubs around the world enter every year – there are usually over a thousand entries. There is no café category, and coffee-shop entries are usually found in the ‘fast casual dining’ section – but for Coffee Grounds to have won the ‘best bar in another space’ category is quite an achievement.

The Coffee Ground concept was launched last year, and was pioneered by Jason Danciger, who has a track record in coffee – at one time recently he ran 300 in-house cafes for Marks and Spencer. The Wyevale group runs many of garden centres across the UK, all of which use individual business identities, but work as part of a chain. The café idea was to use space within garden centres to offer customers ‘a wholesome shopping experience with an exceptional and high quality food and beverage offer’.

Coffee Grounds – Bar Awards

The beans are Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certified, and spent grounds are collected for recycling into compost. Wyevale also says it is the only coffee shop group in the UK to roll out micro- roasting – it has one-kilo roasters across its café operation, and even says that ‘every single coffee shop on the high street is likely to follow us’.

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Thrive 6 at 6

Thrive 6 at 6

Jason Danciger

Each month we will be interviewing CEO, MD & CMO level executives asking 6 probing questions, answered in 6 minutes, and emailed at 6am to our exclusive Thrive members

For our first Thrive 6 at 6 we have spoken to Jason Danciger, Ex Head of Hospitality and Fresh counters at Marks and Spencer with the aim of getting to the bottom of innovation and commercial growth.

To hear Jason share his views on Innocent, the French, micro-bakeries, and provenance click on the video below, or for an over view take a look below at some of the main themes.

1. What’s the one business issue that keeps you awake at night?

Nothing keeps me awake at night! What worries me however is the same question that worries every single operator. Are we giving great service everyday in every bakery!  We put a lot of focus into our staff through recruitment and training, with a lot of effort being put in too, ensuring brilliant success in terms of standards and communication. But in every single bakery, everyday are the bakers baking fantastic bread and are they showing off their best products everyday. That will always keep me awake at night!

2. What would you personally like to be ‘famous’ for achieving within your time at your current company?

Selling bread to the French, on a big scale!

Read rest of article & watch video on:


In half an hour or so, perhaps sooner as I finish this article, I will turn 47.

I feel like a young man but the years have taken their toll on many of my colleagues. From last year you would have read my articles around chefs I had worked with such as Gaston Lenotre and Keith Floyd who have passed away.

Sadly two more associates hit the dirt. Winnie Myers was the chairman of the cookery & food association before me and has been a sterling and very active supporter of the industry for years. I worked with her on many salons and other events and only a few months ago saw her at a cookery competition ‘in her honour’ at Westminster College.  At 93 years of age she came down from the Lake District to attend the competition and remembered me & we spoke for a while about industry challenges. Winnie touched and helped so many people in her career that she will be greatly missed and remembered by many.

Arthur Voggenberger also passed away. After an incredible career at Madame Floris in France and Fortnum & Mason in the UK. Arthur joined the craft guild of chefs since its inception where we met first. We encountered again when he was a lecturer at Seltec College, the teachers were on strike so I came to help out and teach while this debuncle was going on – now you may think of this being treacherous but it was at the request of Arthur who didn’t want to let his students down! Despite not being paid he joined me every time I took a class that year and became my assistant! He was an expert on chocolate and just taught me so much – we sometimes would be cooking/experimenting together long after the class was over – what dedication he had…..

Now Arthur was Austrian and as many young men he was drafted into the forces and Arthur joined the air force. At one of the craft guild of chef’s bashes Prince Philip came over with the Queen Mother who was the associations patron. HRH Philip when he saw someone similar in age would normally quip “now what did you do during the war”

Arthur was particularly nervous as HRH approached and like many others boldly heralded that fateful question. “I was in the air force sir” Jolly good show rebounded HRH which division were you in old chap ” Ummm the Luftwaffe sir” came the reticent reply…… HRH paused for a moment and then said “jolly good scrap that wasn’t it” and then walked on … to which Arthur almost fell over! He was one of the kindest, talented and passionate pastry chefs I ever knew and will not be alone in having long memories of that old friend.

Festive Greetings


A pleasant year for the Lalande d’Anciger family starting with some great ski-ing in the Alps and a fabulous adventure travelling across Sri Lanka as well as the usual summer spent in the south of France

Max was chosen for the French football league and won 5 – 0 in his first match, Eliot achieved merit in his grade 2 guitar exam. Papa has been busy rolling out lots of exciting new foodie initiatives for his company and retiring from teaching karate he still managed to get wet as a master scuba diver and joins the boys in plucking the odd string.

Claude organised a fabulous street party for the royal wedding and of course the refurbishment at Mexfield Road!

We wish all our friends, colleagues and family festive greetings and every happiness and success for the Olympic wonders in store in 2012

Thoughts and comments from Jason Danciger