Tag Archives: FOOD & Drink News

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 http://www.qualityfoodawards.com/

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”.


Another gold for M&S Cafe

M&S has won a prestigious Design Effectiveness Award from the Design Business Association (DBA).

M&S took the top prize of ‘Gold’, beating all contenders in its category. The award was given for our M&S Café and the many touch points around customer journey, efficiency and environment and the subsequent phenomenal commercial results and outstandingly positive customer feedback.

There were two rigorous rounds of judging from business leaders including company directors from the BBC, Sony & HSBC.

Jason Danciger, Head of Hospitality, said “This is a great achievement for M&S and its hospitality operations and after winning gold for its learning programs as well really makes the M&S Cafe the cream of the industry. This is a fantastic tribute to the great teamwork between retail, design & food teams to arrive at such an incredible award.”

The DBA was founded in 1986 to recognise, communicate and reward the integral role that design effectiveness plays in commercial success. The annual Design Effectiveness Awards are the only award scheme that uses commercial data as a key judging criteria.

Support Hugh

Around half of the fish caught by fishermen in the North Sea are unnecessarily thrown back into the ocean dead.

The problem is that in a mixed fishery where many different fish live together, fishermen cannot control the species that they catch.

Fishing for one species often means catching another, and if people don’t want them or fishermen are not allowed to land them, the only option is to throw them overboard. The vast majority of these discarded fish will die.

Because discards are not monitored, it is difficult to know exactly how many fish are being thrown away. The EU estimates that in the North Sea, discards are between 40% and 60% of the total catch. Many of these fish are species that have fallen out of fashion: we can help to prevent their discard just by rediscovering our taste for them.

Others are prime cod, haddock, plaice and other popular food species that are “over-quota”. The quota system is intended to protect fish stocks by setting limits on how many fish of a certain species should be caught.

Fishermen are not allowed to land any over-quota fish; if they accidentally catch them – which they can’t help but do – there is no choice but to throw them overboard before they reach the docks.


We need to diversify our fish eating habits, and we need to change policy so that it works for fish, fishermen and consumers.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which is the political framework for the quota system, is currently being reformed for 2012. Scientists and environmental groups have suggested a number of ways that that the policy can work to protect fish stocks. Some details of these can be found on our solutions page.

Re-writing the Common Fisheries Policy is going to be an enormously complicated business, and unfortunately there is no one easy solution to ending discards. Many people agree that the answer will lie in a combination of different ideas and policies.


• Sign up to the campaign on the sign up page. You will be writing directly to policy makers in Europe to let them know that the unnecessary and unethical discarding of perfectly good fish must stop. We can make a difference. If enough people sign up to the campaign, they have to listen to us. We aim to get 250,000 signatures by summer 2011. Click on http://www.fishfight.net/the-campaign/

• Write to your MP to ask them to support the Fish Fight Early Day Motion.

• Expand the selection of fish that you eat by trying some of the lesser-known species of local fish currently being discarded as trash. In the UK, cod, salmon and tuna account for more than 50% of the fish that we consume, and tasty, exciting and nutritious fish such as flounder, dab, coley and pouting are overlooked and thrown away.

• Spread the word, tell all of your friends and family about Hugh’s Fish Fight and get them to sign the campaign too.

Together we can stop this ridiculous carnage. Join Hugh’s Fish Fight now!

Thanks very much,

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

M&S launches new hospitality recruitment and training processes

M&S launches new hospitality recruitment and training processes

Marks & Spencer has launched a new recruitment process for its 285 M&S Cafes following a successful trial in London.

Potential candidates now undergo a profile check which reviews their appropriate experience, before they are invited into an M&S Café to demonstrate their coffee making ability. Candidates are then voted on by their fellow chefs & baristas before a decision on their application is made.

New joiners can look forward to an innovative training program that includes bespoke e-learning modules for which M&S recently won a gold award for the “Excellence in the production of learning content” by Bizmedia. New café employees also receive practical barista training on M&S Cafés’ top of the range Italian espresso machines.

M&S baristas also have the opportunity to be awarded a ‘Golden Bean’ – an accolade given after M&S baristas are tasked to make a range of drinks in front of a panel of experts who rate them on their presentation and technical skills.

Jason Danciger, Head of Hospitality at Marks & Spencer comments: “Our increased focus on ensuring M&S Cafes are staffed by the best hospitality candidates will ensure that M&S can continue to deliver high levels of service to the millions of customers who visit our cafes every week. We want people with passion who want to work in a busy, fun & rewarding environment with industry leading people benefits.”

“Great coffee starts with great people, and these new recruitment and training processes will ensure we continue to delight customers as we expand further.”


For further information, please contact:
Philip Sorensen M&S Corporate Press Office 020 8718 1967

For images or background information on Marks & Spencer, please visit our website at www.marksandspencer.com/mediacentre

Notes to Editors

M&S runs 285 M&S Cafés nationwide, along with 6 casual dining M&S Kitchens, 6 full service M&S restaurants, 48 hot food counters and 9 Deli bars. M&S hospitality currently employs over 5,000 just under 7% of the total M&S work force.


Marks & Spencer is teaming up with Macmillan Cancer Support as the new official sponsor of Macmillan’s annual fundraising event, the ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’ on Friday 24 September.

For the fifth consecutive year, the ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’ aims to encourage people to take time out to get together with friends, relatives and colleagues, have a good catch up over a coffee, and raise much needed funds for Macmillan’s vital work to help improve the lives of people affected by cancer.

M&S will support Macmillan by opening up its 283 M&S Cafes to host the ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’ and by also donating proceeds from a range of tasty M&S snacks and treats to the charity. Between Wednesday 4 August and Saturday 25 September, 10% of the sale price of a range of five products including carrot cakes, bacon sandwiches, and chocolate brownies will be donated to Macmillan. 50p for every coffee sold on Friday 24 September, the day of ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’, will also be donated to the charity.

Jason Danciger, Head of Hospitality at Marks & Spencer, said “We’re delighted to be working with Macmillan Cancer Support in the lead up to this unique event and we’re looking forward to seeing thousands of people across the UK coming to their local M&S Café to help raise over £xm for such a worthy cause. This year’s event promises to be bigger and better as our M&S Cafés are perfect venues for people to come together, enjoy great M&S products and help make a real difference to people affected by cancer.”

Two million people in the UK are living with cancer, and one in three will be diagnosed during their lifetime. Every donation, whether 50p or £50, will help Macmillan continue providing much needed support. This could be practical help with everyday tasks, financial advice and assistance to help with the unexpected costs of cancer, emotional support or expert medical care from a Macmillan professional.

This year Coffee Morning falls on Friday 24 September but you can hold one whenever is most convenient for you. Just one small mug of coffee really can make a big difference so to make that cuppa count, register now at www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee or call 0845 070 1315.