Fresh Food Hub offers one stop shop for chefs

June 2019

Chefs and caterers can now order the very best fresh produce from specialist suppliers around the UK, matched to their exact menu specifications, using the newly launched Fresh Food Hub.

Offering fresh produce, fish, meat and dairy from established regional suppliers, and backed by the national resources of Bidfresh, the one-stop service can be accessed using computer, tablet, or mobile phone via the free-to-use freshfoodhub app.

Fresh Food Hub brings together trusted suppliers already used by more than 15,000 chefs in restaurants, hotels, pubs, contract caterers and professional kitchens across the UK hospitality sector.

Chefs can access the hub at or by searching for ‘freshfoodhub’ on the App Store or Google Play. Once signed up using their customer account number for any of the businesses on the system; they receive their own login. Additional logins are also available for use by other team members, such as accounts – enabling them to access past invoices etc. as required.

The businesses brought together on Fresh Food Hub are Direct Seafoods, Kingfisher Brixham, Kingfisher Midlands, Daily Fish Supplies, Neve Fleetwood, Southbank Fresh Fish, Henson, Campbell Brothers, Taylor Foods, Rustic Cheese and Oliver Kay.

Stephen Oswald, CEO of Bidfresh, said: “The specialist knowledge and customer relationships of our individual businesses are what we were built on and are vital to our business. With the addition of the online ordering system, time is freed up for our account managers to better service the needs of our customers, whilst day-to-day order entry can be easily processed at the press of a button by using the freshfoodhub app.

“Most customers can benefit from this convenient and easy-to-use online facility. For example, many chefs are unable to order during office hours – having to wait until after service to place orders – so the app offers a quick way to repeat order or manage stock whilst in the kitchen, rather than relying on voicemails which can often be unclear or missing detail.

“Fresh Food Hub offers chefs a new, convenient way to access and order our full product range, without affecting their established relationships with the specialists in our individual businesses.”

Benefits of Fresh Food Hub include:

• Specialist ‘anywhere, anytime’ ordering system tailored to chefs and caterers
• Order to satisfy all fresh ingredient requirements – produce, fish, meat and dairy
• Order anytime, anywhere via mobile phone, tablet or computer
• Pricing and full product information including nutritional and allergen information
• Immediate proof of order, easy repeat orders, and access to order and invoice history
• Access to special offers and the latest market information
• View order cut off times and avoid voicemail order errors
• Add exact product specification at check-out

Visitors to the Universal Cookery and Food Festival 2019 on June 25 will have the opportunity to see Fresh Food Hub in action. Run in association with the Craft Guild of Chefs, this year’s UCFF takes place at Farrington Oils in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.

Drinkaware boosts senior team with new appointments

June 2019

Alcohol education charity Drinkaware has welcomed two new senior team members to deliver its ambitious strategy to tackle alcohol harm.

Adam Jones joins as Director, Business Development, Partnerships & Public Affairs, responsible for managing the relationship between Drinkaware and its 131 funders as well as partners in the private and public sector and Government at all levels.

Jones has held senior roles in both the not-for-profit and commercial sectors, including Commercial & Business Development Director at the National Housing Federation, and marketing and commercial roles at gas safety scheme CORGI. Most recently, he was MD at the award-winning Lallapolosa Baking Company.

He said: “I’m delighted to be joining Drinkaware and can see many exciting opportunities to work with our funders and partners to take the important messages about responsible drinking out to a wider audience.”

Jennifer Walters has joined Drinkaware as Director of Communications
Jennifer Walters has joined Drinkaware as Director of Communications

Jennifer Walters has joined Drinkaware as Director of Communications. Jennifer has a wealth of experience in communications, mainly in the charity/not for profit sector, having worked for Unicef UK, The Children’s Society, Leonard Cheshire, Creative Skillset and Action for Children.

Walters will be heading up all Drinkaware communications to its wide-ranging media audiences as well as funders and other stakeholders. She says: “I am thrilled to be joining the team at Drinkaware and have ambitious plans for communications to play an even stronger role in tackling alcohol misuse and harm.”

Drinkaware chief executive Elaine Hindal said: “Drinkaware is on a journey; as UK drinking trends change, we need to find new ways to change consumer behaviour around alcohol, particularly among ‘hard to reach’ drinkers.

“As we evolve, we need to bring new skills into the organisation, to ensure that we, along with our funders and partners, are able to maximise every opportunity to reduce alcohol related harms. Adam and Jennifer join Drinkaware with impressive experience and skillsets that make them an asset to us, and to the funders and partners with whom they will be working to deliver our alcohol harm reduction agenda.”


The Southern Showdown winners headed for New Orleans

June 2019

Two triumphant bartenders are headed on a VIP trip to New Orleans, birthplace of Southern Comfort and home of the soon-to-be-launched Sazerac House immersive cocktail experience. The prize is reward for their new signature serves for Southern Comfort, which have won the Southern Showdown 2019 cocktail competition.

Adam Day of Wilderness in Manchester and Scott Addison of Beast, London will be guests of Southern Comfort UK distributor Hi-Spirits in New Orleans in July for the Tales of the Cocktail festival, enjoying the party spirit of the city where bartender M.W. Heron first blended Southern Comfort in 1874.

The grand final of the Southern Showdown, held on board the Dixie Queen riverboat on the Thames, saw Adam, Scott and two other finalists prepare and serve their cocktails for the judges and around 300 invited industry guests. Each bartender had their own satellite bar on the boat, giving them the space to demonstrate their skill, flair and product knowledge.

The winning cocktails were:

• Showdown Winner, selected by the on-board judges: Adam Day with the Lagniappe (pronounced Lan-yap). A rosé twist on a classic kir cocktail combining Southern Comfort Original with stone fruit flavours including blackberry.
• People’s Champion, voted for by the guests on board: Scott Addison with Black Banana, a fresh take on the banana daiquiri, made with Southern Comfort Black and a smoky, grilled banana syrup.

Entrants were asked to put Southern Comfort at the heart of their recipe, devising a cocktail that tastes great, is easily replicable and above all tells a great story. Cocktails included the bartender’s choice of either Southern Comfort Original, Southern Comfort Black or Southern Comfort 100 Proof.

Toni Law, Southern Comfort brand manager with Hi-Spirits, said: “This year’s Southern Showdown was the most challenging yet. There were mystery judges on board the Dixie Queen, so none of the finalists knew when they were being marked as they made and served their signature cocktails.

“The satellite bars added an additional element not seen in other competitions, with 300 guests eager to try each of the cocktails queuing up to be served. All four finalists did a fantastic job and should be very proud. The new serves created for the competition demonstrate the versatility of the Southern Comfort range in cocktails that capture the true spirit of New Orleans.”

Showdown winner Adam Day said: “Every drink was delicious and it must have been extremely difficult for the judges to choose a winner. I think my drink won because it was a different interpretation, not what you expect from a Southern Comfort cocktail.

“I called it Lagniappe, which is Creole slang for ‘baker’s dozen’ or a little something extra. The beauty of batching a drink is that you’re giving guests the luxury of time, they’re not waiting at the bar, they can get a tasty drink straight away and spend that time with friends.”

The other finalists were:
• Dan Crowther of Hedonist, Leeds with McCauley’s Ice Tea. Bringing together two cultures and their different styles of tea, made with Southern Comfort 100 Proof and a homemade Yorkshire Iced Tea.
• Gareth Rees of the Fat Bear, London, with the Count of Orleans. A British cream tea take on a classic milk punch, infusing Southern Comfort Black with a blend of teas.

The four were selected after a Bartenders’ Challenge designed to test all aspects of bartending, held at Hi-Spirits’ new cocktail bar at the company’s offices in Surrey. Twelve entrants – two from each of the six regions – were picked from more than 200 initial entries received.

The finalists were put through their paces by a judging panel which included bar and cocktail consultant Jake Burger, renowned bartender and operator Tristan Stephenson, last year’s Southern Showdown Global Winner Lee Jones and international drinks consultant Julian De Feral.

For more information, please contact Hi-Spirits on 01932 252 100, email or visit

Caption to attached image (l-r): People’s Champion Scott Addison; Southern Showdown 2019 winner Adam Day; and Global Southern Showdown 2018 Winner Lee Jones

Fireball announces Fuelling The Fire Tour 2019

June 2019

Fireball is once again adding a shot of excitement to the live music scene, with confirmation of the fourth annual Fireball: Fuelling The Fire tour.

Run in association with Academy Events, the tour has become one of the most anticipated events in the UK Punk-Rock calendar. Held in O2 Academy venues up and down the UK in September, this year sees ska-punk legends Less Than Jake and Goldfinger as headliners, along with some very special guests to be announced.

As testament to the Fireball brand’s continued support for grass roots music, also on the bill are the winners of the Fireball Hottest Band competition, Sunderland-based Thieves Of Liberty. DJ Matt Stocks will keep the party vibe going between sets.

Fans are being offered early bird tickets at just £15, along with multi-buy discounts. Matt Reynolds, Fireball brand ambassador with UK distributor Hi-Spirits, said: “Music is all about the fans. That’s why we at Fireball UK want to do this. We’ve grown up loving music, and watched in fear as ticket and drink prices are hiked at live shows beyond comprehension.

“Our brand support goes into subsidising the ticket and drink prices for the fans. A great line-up of bands for just £15, party games, confetti cannons, toilet roll guns, and some great deals on Fireball. What’s not to love?

“We also work hard to support bands that play live in pubs, bars and venues around the UK, and the Fireball Hottest Band competition gives them a chance to take a step up as part of the Fuelling The Fire line-up.”

Chris DeMakes of headliners Less Than Jake, who are regulars on the tour, said: “Yes! It’s that time of the year again. Less Than Jake is extremely excited to headline this year’s Fireball: Fuelling The Fire Tour. We wanted to ramp up the insanity this time around so we’re bringing along our friends in Goldfinger to celebrate with us. We can’t wait for these shows. It’s going to be epic!”

Tour dates September 2019:
19th O2 Academy, Sheffield
20th O2 Academy, Leeds
21st O2 Academy Birmingham
23rd O2 Ritz Manchester
24th O2 Academy Newcastle
25th O2 Academy Glasgow
27th O2 Academy Bournemouth
28th O2 Academy Brixton

Fireball is the number one shot brand in the US with 15 straight years of growth*, and continues to build sales in the UK, with double digit growth for five consecutive years in the UK shots category**.

Fireball is a Canadian whisky-based cinnamon-flavoured liqueur produced by the Sazerac Company. The product was developed in Canada in the mid-1980s, forged during one of the coldest Canadian winters on record by blending smooth Canadian whisky with sweet, spicy cinnamon. Its recommended serve is a shot, ice cold and straight from the freezer.

*Nielsen CGA On-Premise User Survey, October 2018
**CGA Nielsen, March 2019

Brakspear adds ‘iconic Oxfordshire pub' to managed estate

June 2019

Pub operator and brewer Brakspear has purchased the Nag’s Head in Abingdon, as the 14th pub in its expanding managed estate.

The Nag’s Head is a historic riverside pub in the town centre with a reputation for excellent food and drink. The Nag’s Head sits halfway across Abingdon Bridge on its own island, with extensive gardens seating up to 200 people, a barge bar and wood-fired pizza oven. Its menu offers classic British food freshly-made from local ingredients, accompanied by a wide range of beers and wines.

The pub has featured in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide for the last five years and won a Town & Country Pub of the Year title three times.

Tom Davies, Brakspear chief executive, said, “We’re delighted to be adding the Nag’s Head to our managed division. It’s an iconic Oxfordshire pub and we think it’s fitting that the name above the door and on the bar will now be Brakspear, another Oxfordshire icon.

“The pub is a very successful one and trades especially well over the summer months, so we are not planning any changes to the offer in the short-term. We’re also pleased to be keeping general manager James Griffiths and his team, who have done a fantastic job in making the Nag’s Head such a success.

“We’re delighted to welcome them into the Brakspear family and looking forward to seeing the pub go from strength to strength.”

He added: “We’re very happy with the growth of our managed estate, which we started six years ago. We could have expanded more quickly, but are only adding pubs that are a perfect fit, with the right location, size and style. So, although all our managed pubs have their own individual character, they also share an overarching ethos of serving top quality food, drink and customer service.”

The Nag’s Head has been purchased from a private landlord and takes Brakspear’s managed estate up to 14 sites. The division was formed in 2013 with the opening of the Bull on Bell Street in Henley-on-Thames and includes pubs across the Cotswolds and south east.

Last summer, Brakspear reopened the Frogmill near Cheltenham, its largest managed site to date, set in extensive grounds with a sizeable wedding and functions business.

Traditional blessing for Hogs Back Brewery hop garden

June 2019

Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery has celebrated the growth of its new hop garden with an official blessing by local vicar Rev. Claire Holt, attended by close to 200 local residents and customers.

The 8.5-acre hop garden next to the brewery on Manor Farm in Tongham, was created late last year, when Hogs Back relocated 2,000 hop plants from its previous site across the road and added 4,000 new ones. The new garden is almost treble the size of the old one and the hop plants are now beginning to flourish in their new home, growing up posts and wires ahead of harvest later this year.

Blessing the hops, Rev. Holt, of St Paul’s Church in Tongham, explained the origins of crop blessing ceremonies, which were traditionally held on Ascension Day – falling this year on 30 May, which was when the Hogs Back blessing took place. She said: “When the crops were planted, a group of young and old people from the village, usually led by the priest, would walk round the boundaries of the parish, stopping at each boundary post to pray for the protection of the crops.

“Blessing the hop garden therefore revives a long-held tradition that would certainly have been part of the cycle of hop growing in Farnham for many years. It gives me great joy to lead today’s prayers for the Hogs Back hop garden, the brewery, and all who work in them, for this year and long into the future.”

Rupert Thompson, Hogs Back Brewery managing director, said: “Ever since we planted our first hop garden five years ago, we’ve been keen to observe hop farming milestones and were delighted to welcome back Rev. Holt, who also conducted a blessing for us in 2014.

“Today’s celebration was a much larger affair, which shows the extent to which the community has engaged with the hop garden and the brewery in that time. Hogs Back’s values of tradition, authenticity and local community appeals to a growing number of craft beer drinkers, across Surrey and beyond.”

With the hops duly blessed, the Hogs Back team led by estate manager Matthew King, will now be tending the bines carefully to encourage a healthy harvest in September. Three varieties are being grown in the new garden: Fuggles – used in the brewer’s flagship TEA ale; Cascade – used in its Hogstar Lager; and Farnham White Bine – a local variety that they have revived from near-extinction.

King said: “We’ve learned that the first harvest from a new hop garden is never the best, as it’s good practice not to cut all the new plants in Year 1, leaving them in the ground to grow stronger for subsequent years. However, we’re pleased with the way the hop plants transported from our old garden have adapted to their new home so are hoping they will yield a good crop in September.”

As well as expanding its hop garden, Hogs Back is also planning to build a new kiln to dry its hops, next to the brewery. This is believed to be the first traditional style kiln to be constructed in Surrey for over 100 years and will stand on the site occupied for many years by an original kiln within Manor Farm. It will be used to dry Hogs Back’s hops for around one month and for the rest of the year will serve as an event space and visitor centre, educating people about the local hop farming industry.

Thompson said, “We are excited about continuing the journey we started with the planting of our original hop garden in 2014. Growing our own hops has made us better brewers, as with each harvest we’ve learned more about how the flavour of the hops is affected by the weather, and how that then impacts the quality and taste of the beer. It has also drawn us closer to the local rural community and its history, and gives us a unique opportunity to accentuate the provenance and quality of our beers.”