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

Quality Food Awards

Food producers and retailers scoop top industry awards

Thursday 10 November, saw the prestigious Quality Food Awards presented at The Park Plaza Hotel, London where Britain’s leading food and drink producers and retailers were honoured.

It is a really strong competition where I have been on the panel of judges for many years and have been enthused by innovation and drive for quality despite difficult economic climate.

These awards are highly regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the food and drink industry and reward products on sale in UK grocery outlets.

I was delighted to present the Christmas awards that has put me in festive spirit!

Check out winners at

‘We suffer so they don’t’ – 100 Miles, 1 Day, 1 Goal

The Independent London2Brighton Ride
10 September 2011

Thank You

A few friends & I attempted the uphill endurance cycle recently and due to great support from many of my friends and collegues we all raised over a thousand pounds for action medical caring for children – thank you & truly appreciated.

Now the Irish pal rushed off & finished in record time, the French pal decided to use his iPod sat nav instead of following the sign posted route and of course got lost leaving the Swiss fellow & myself to complete the ride.

All went swimmingly (ok painfully) well until almost at the end we faced the Ditchling beacon a never-ending cliff where there were moments when the bike was about to be thrown over the side!

Our butts looked like a baboon for a few days but I have to admit it was a great adventure and I am looking forward to my next Peter Pan male menopausal stunt!


Barista of the Year!

Announcing our Barista of the Year!

In September the annual Barista of the year championship was held at at the Business design centre in London.

We originally received over 300 entries from M&S baristas across the UK and Ireland. In-store assessments were held during the summer in over 180 stores.

From these assessments eleven finalists were selected:
Darren McCory, Jayne Semple, Chloe Prenton, Sean Linden, Jack white, Eve Haslam, Hetal Sodagar, Maria Thomas, Amanda McLean, Amy Jackson, Luke Evans

On the day all the finalists were required to set up their coffee machines and adjust the grinder to check the quality and time of the espresso coffee which forms the base of all our speciality coffee drinks.

Finalists were asked to produce four perfect espressos and four perfect lattes. Bonus points were awarded for latte art where the aim is to make a pattern on the coffee using only the milk and a great deal of skill.

Each contestant was asked to devise a speciality coffee based drink using only M&S ingredients. This year flavours included cherry, caramel, hazelnut and cinnamon, all were delicious with a mixture of iced, blended and hot drinks.

Sensory judging was carried out by a team of four including M&S cafe operations manager, David Condliffe, last year’s M&S Barista of the year, Alex Passmore and our coffee partners, Matthew Algie including Caroline Carter, National training manager and Regional training manager Kerry Wilkinson. Technical judging was conducted by Natasha Kemp and proceedings were overseen by head judge Sarah Bolwer who is also a UK barista championship judge.

Third place was awarded to Sean Linden from Dundrum store.

Runner up was awarded to Amy Jackson from Cheshunt store.

The title of M&S Barista of the year 2011 went to Luke Evans from Worthing store.

Luke was presented with the David Williamson trophy which he can keep for one year and, £250 of M&S vouchers. All finalists received a signed book by chef Tom Aitkens, a certificate and a bottle of Champagne. In addition to his winner’s prize, Luke will travel to the Matthew Algie roastery in Glasgow to roast his own coffee. The presentation of awards was carried out by Jason Danciger, Head of hospitality and in store food production at M&S

The M&S Chef of the Year Challenge

The M&S Chef of the Year Challenge final took place last week, with colleagues from across the business battling it out for the prestigious title.

Following last year’s successful M&S competition we ran two events; the amateur division was open to anyone from our offices or stores and our professional division was opened to trained chefs.

The finalists were all present on merit, following several stages of selection and had beaten their way through hundreds of entries from across the UK & Ireland. The chefs were tasked to produce a three course meal for two people using M&S ingredients consisting of a vegetarian starter, a sustainable fish main course and finally a dessert of seasonal strawberries, in just 90 minutes.

The standards incredibly high making it difficult to pick out an outstanding individual, but eventually the winners were announced.

Roz Graham from Camberley store, who works as a staff coordinator, was crowned the amateur chef of the year 2011

Melvyn Redding from Hedge End store – who works as the head chef in one of the busiest M&S restaurants – was announced as the Professional chef of the year 2011

Well done to Roz and Melvyn, but also congratulations to all of the finalists who showed great skill and made the final a truly high-quality event; fiercely competed but in tremendous spirit.

Our Amateur finalists
Mya Aronica – Aberdeen
Judith Battimelli – Maidenhead
Roz Graham – Camberley
Stephanie Keating – Navan

Our Professional finalists
Marc Herron – Lisburn
John Law – Culverhouse cross
Robert Parish Smith – London Colney
Melvyn Redding – Hedge End

The event was supported by The Craft guild of Chefs; the country’s leading chef organisation and our trophies were generously sponsored by Bakkavor and Manitowoc food service solutions.

Head of hospitality for M&S Jason Danciger, also a member of the craft guild of chefs, chaired the judges for both of our chef challenges along with Lead chefs from the M&S development teams and representatives of our sponsors.

“The food was outstanding and some of the amateur dishes could grace the table of many top restaurants in the country,” said Jason. “The professional level was up to the standard of national competitions that I have judged – in both cases this just shows the incredible talent in our M&S people. Congratulations to all our finalists, and especially Roz and Melvyn”.


Food Development Assoc – Biography 26

I chaired this organisation for a few years until it was sensibly merged with the craft guild of chefs giving them a food development arm. We were (still are) looking after the specialist development chefs in both suppliers and many restaurant & catering groups.

I am currently trying to launch a course to help skilled chefs take the step from cooking at the helm to food development which encompasses working with suppliers/manufacturers, technologists, marketing, design and logistics to get the skill to create a product in a pack that is as good or as close to one you create yourself on a stove.

We ran a series of really fun combined workshops and conference that had 300 + attendees of top chefs and product developers across the country. These were based on themes of science (molecular gastronomy a la Heston Blummenthal a foodie & black belt in karate like me but then similarities stop!) on food provenance (how could I resist) and future trends.

As well as promoting Freedom Food & MSC we also supported organic soil association taking the three perfect partners of fish, meat and fruit & veg!

We would run several tours visiting new restaurants exploring trends and engrossing ourselves in this vibrant, exciting and ever changing industry.

Marine Stewardship Council – Biography 25

Another great association I have been honoured to work with again bringing the first certified product to a restaurant group in the UK.

There were many other supporters such as many retailers and restaurant groups. Tony of Fish was the second group who certified his products and we used to joke that he was upset that I went first & that my IQ was 1% higher than his! But hats off to Tony for taking the step that so many others follow.

One of my favourite projects was to launch a wine that went exceptionally well with fish, yes it was that obvious but we took it a step further with my great old friend Michael Saunders of Bibendum. We chose a white wine from Chile and blended it specifically to fit the bill. Now one of my favourite moments when I visited the vineyard was to go horse riding with the wine maker and we galloped through his vines – just awesome. Anyway wine chosen and partner chosen as Sainsbury’s then with another great friend Alan Cheeseman who sits with me on the wine fair board and who was their wine director at the time agreed to support us. The idea was that we would display the wine just by the fish counter and that 15p went from each bottle to the MSC who used the money to promote awareness. It was a huge hit and a great campaign also helped by Rick Stein who wrote some recipes we added to the bottle.
We had a “face to face” meeting with HRH Prince Charles who again thrilled me with his passion, drive and understanding of the fishery industry. He was an ‘interested party’ who strongly cared about Albatross caught by irresponsible fishing and of course sustainable fishing that we were trying to promote. Just four of us and his body guard and we talked about how to get the message to more people. Prince Charles actually liked the wine project & said thanks!!

I have talked about MSC at various industry conferences (Publican, Harpers Debate, Food Development Conferences & work shops) and if I see a product with its label it goes in the basket and if it doesn’t have one where appropriate I’ll be leaving it on the shelf!

Freedom Food – Biography 24

RSPCA started Freedom Food an organisation dedicated to animal welfare. Albert Roux always used to say to me 20 years ago that a happy animal makes a happy meal and he was absolutely right.

I worked with Freedom food to get first certified products (Chicken & eggs first and subsequently pork) onto the first menus.

When I was the director of food at Spirit that had over a 1,000 pubs and eateries including over a hundred gastro pubs we only bought Freedom Food audited eggs. That meant the animals were fed well (& naturally), had room to roam but also understanding the animal also had room to hide and shelter when it wanted.

I remember when I first visited the farms – I felt like Bob Geldoff in Africa as the chickens swarmed towards me! I saw first hand that they were well treated and in a natural (fox free) environment.

I have seen battery eggs & chickens and there were tears in my eyes and I pledged to wherever I could I would only buy happy animals for myself, the company I was working in and try & talk about in wherever I could either on my website or in talks & conferences,

Frankly there should not be a choice even if it raises the price of meat there should be a minimum standard for rearing all animals set by government.

But for now Freedom Food does the trick!

Thoughts and comments from Jason Danciger