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Chatwins acquires prime city centre site in Chester

first_imgCRAFT bakery chain Arthur Chatwin is to open its 20th shop on February 8, in a prime site in Chester town centre.“This is a massive move for us,” said retail director Edward Chatwin. “We’re really excited at the prospect of opening in Chester city centre. We have 20 outlets across Cheshire and Staffordshire but this really is the Big One.”Chatwins is taking over the premises at 25 Northgate Street from Weinholt’s the bakers, which has traded there for almost 15 years. The prime site location, in Northgate Street, is set to become a flagship for the Nantwich–based firm. “We will be making some minor changes,” said Mr Chatwin, “and putting in a new oven for baking-off our products.” All the products made by Chatwins in its craft bakery in Nantwich will be available in the Chester shop while, upstairs, customers will enjoy a traditional waitress service in the 70-seater café tea room.“To have a shop within Chester city centre has always been a major goal for the company,” said Mr Chatwin, “and I’m sure my late grandfather, Arthur, would be very proud and excited to know that we shall finally be opening there.”Meanwhile, Weinholt’s owner John Weinholt, a member of the British Confectioners’ Association, said the move will allow him to cut back his working hours from around 80 a week to a more “sensible” 50. He commented: “With all the onerous bureaucracy and legislation of running more than one shop, the bakery craft has had to take second place for me. Having just one shop will enable me to focus on baking, which I enjoy.” Mr Weinholt, now 51, is left with one shop in Handbridge in Chester, opened by his father in 1953. The sale of his Northgate Street store will regretfully mean four job losses in the Handbridge-based production side of the business. “Two of the staff were ready to retire and I am doing my utmost to find alternative employment for one full-time and one part-time member of staff in the area,” he said.Mr Weinholt explained Chatwins was given first refusal on the Northgate Street site as the two families had a “gentleman’s agreement” stretching back decades not to encroach on each other’s territory. “The Chatwins family have come under pressure to move into Chester over the years and it is admirable that they have not. I wish them all the very best success in Chester.”last_img read more

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Bakery industry welcomes grocery market review

first_imgCraft bakers are celebra-ting after the announcement last week that the Competition Commission is to start a review of the grocery market. National Association of Master Bakers (NA) chief executive David Smith said he is on “cloud nine” following the announcement by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). “It’s the best result you could have hoped for, it’s tremendous,” he said.The OFT’s decision comes after the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), the NA, suppliers, consumer organisations and environmental groups highlighted problems caused to small shops and suppliers by the growing dominance of the “Big Four” superstores. The Competition Commission will look at issues including buying power, below-cost selling, price flexing, and the decline in choice caused by the closure of many independent shops.The announcement follows growing political pressure for a review. The All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group published a report into the High Street 2015 last month, attacking the “heavily unbalanced trading environment” in the UK. It called for a review of the two-market ruling, which separates the grocery market into top-up (local) shopping and one-stop (supermarket) shopping.Mr Smith said the NA will urge craft bakers and bakery suppliers to give evidence to the Competition Commission. He said: “Suppliers and bakers have another chance. We know they are being squeezed.”The ACS first asked the Competition Commission to trigger a review of the market in 2004. This request was refused, with little explanation. In Octo-ber the ACS appealed to the Competition Appeals Tribunal, which told the OFT to reconsider. The OFT will now undertake a four-week consultation on its decision, running until April 6, and, if it is confirmed, the Competition Commission will undertake the review, which could take up to two years.“This is a landmark ruling for independent retailers and consumers,” declared ACS chief executive David Rae. “But there is a long way to go before we get the hard and fast outcomes that we believe are required, such as better ways of stopping predatory pricing, and greater transparency in dealings between retailers and suppliers.”Greggs MD Sir Michael Darrington said referral of the grocery market to the Competition Commission was a fair thing to do. He commented: “If we want to have a balance in the high street and in town centres, then we need to help that happen, rather than let market forces totally have their way.”last_img read more

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Better by design

first_imgGordon Ramsay has described Mich Turner as the “Bentley of cake baking” – high praise from the Michelin-starred chef who is notoriously difficult to please.The praise is deserved. Top-of-the-range cars can often be seen parked outside her Little Venice Cake Company, tucked away in the heart of London’s fashionable Marylebone.Chauffeurs wait while high-profile clients discuss their cake requirements with creative designer Mich Turner and her team. The consultation is very detailed, but the end result is often spectacular.Celebrities such as Madonna and Guy Ritchie have been queuing up to place orders. Superstar Sir Paul McCartney and his now ex-wife Heather Mills were apparently “thrilled” with their stunning wedding cake – an eight-tier white chocolate truffle torte covered with 200 hand-moulded chocolate roses.Meanwhile, James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan and his wife Keely were equally delighted with their “luscious” six-tiered wedding cake.At Keely’s request, it was based on a style similar to Jackie and John F Kennedy’s wedding cake. Mich says: “I was told it had to be incredibly romantic, traditional and smell as good as it tasted.”She used marzipan and ivory sugarpaste to cover each tier and then decorated them with the same intricate design of piped ivory icing, scented with orange blossom.Every pearl on the ’fleur-de-lys’ was glazed so that it shimmered. Mich sent samples of different recipes by courier for the couple to taste at their home in Malibu, California, and they opted for a “very flavourful, spicy and moist” carrot cake.Wedding cakes are a big slice of the business – and not just for celebrities. Mich and her team create up to 30 a week in the summer. Clients choose from four basic recipes: the carrot cake, baked with walnuts, rum-soaked sultanas and coconut; a rich fruit celebration cake; a chocolate truffle cake layered with chocolate ganache buttercream; and a lemon cake with a lemon curd buttercream.Mich uses mainly organic ingredients and caters, as much she can, for special dietary requests. For example, she made a honey cake for the top tier of Heather Mills’ wedding cake, as Mills is allergic to sugar.But the Little Venice Cake Company also provide cakes for other special events – some at very short notice. Posh Spice, aka Victoria Beckham, gave Mich just 48 hours to create a 30th birthday cake for her husband, ex-England football captain David Beckham, last year.She was given an unusual design brief – a confidentiality agreement forbids her from revealing what it was – and was asked to deliver the cake to their home in Madrid. Says Mich: “I felt that, if we could pull that off, then we could do pretty much anything.”As well as orders for christenings, Bar Mitzvahs and anniversaries, the firm has created a cake for Prince Charles and has catered for many corporate events.In recent months, these have ranged from a window display at Harrods to the wedding cake in actress Emma Thompson’s film Nanny McPhee. Winners of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and ITV’s X-Factor were also presented with one of Mich’s creations.Commissions are varied, also coming from bridal and home magazines. “They are all big jobs,” says Mich. “It could be anything from a small cake to a six-foot helter-skelter. It means we have to be very organised.”For the star-studded TV BAFTA awards last year, it took three of her team three days to create the dark chocolate ’sculpture’.The cake, which used 7.5kg of chocolate, was decorated with 125 dark chocolate fans and 15 BAFTA masks, each with a gold lustre gilding. They also produced 150 smaller versions for each table.With so many orders, it is surprising to find the Little Venice Cake Company is still based in relatively small premises.There are eight staff, including two sugar crafters – one of whom is also a model maker, a pastry chef, and a chocolatier, who work in the ’design studio’, as well as four others in the design and sales office.Mich’s love of cake design began in 1987 when she was 17 and studying A-levels in biology, chemistry and food nutrition in Devon.A teacher had asked her to decorate her wedding cake, but the teenager, who was naturally artistic and had won cookery competitions, had never decorated a cake before. So she enrolled on a four-day course to learn the basics at the Mary Ford Centre in Southbourne, Devon.Since then, Mich has spent hours recreating her designs on cakes. “I find it therapeutic. I’m probably the only person who is quite happy to sit and draw lines.” Her artistic talents follow on from her parents; her mother is a dress designer and her father’s ancestors were master enamellers on canal boats.Mich’s venture into cake design was put on hold while she went off to university to study food nutrition. It was only later, while working in a wholefood shop, that she began to explore the possibility of turning her skill into a career.”I didn’t do any more courses, so none of my training was particularly formal,” she admits.Mich had been asked by customers at the wholefood shop in Little Venice to bake and design cakes for them. After the success of these commissions, she wrote a letter, enclosing a photo of one of the cakes, to the top London stores.To her delight, Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge took her on as a supplier. Soon afterwards, several five-star hotels also put her on their books. “It literally snowballed from there,” she says.But it wasn’t all plain sailing. The relatively inexperienced designer’s first commission in 1995 could not have been harder. In fact, it is still “the most technically difficult work” she has ever done. It was a replica of St Bride’s church in Fleet Street.All she had was a tiny black and white photograph to work with. Fortunately, with her scientific background, Mich worked out the design of the structure – from how to support it to transportation. “It was incredibly architectural and very mathematical,” she says. It took her four days of planning, designing and creating the four-tiered octagon cake before it was finished.Bosses at the store were impressed and gave her more orders, but a year later, her career took a different path. Harvey Nichols asked her to work for them as a buyer in their bakery and patisserie department. It took a lot of persuading.”I’d found my niche in cake-making,” she says. “But I decided the experience would be invaluable and I learned a hell of a lot. I’m a supplier now, but I understand how to get the best out of a buyer.”Now 36, Mich set up her own business in 1999 in her three-bedroom flat in Little Venice, London, from which the company name is derived. Her intention was to combine family life – she is married with one son – and her love of cake design. “I didn’t have any special equipment,” she says. “It was very basic: just an electric oven, fridge, freezer and sink.”She quickly re-established herself as a supplier to top stores and hotels and, just a year after starting out on her own, she was asked to design Madonna’s wedding cake. “I was thrilled”, she says.The superstar’s wedding organiser had spotted her setting-up and dressing a cake at the five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge.He was so impressed with her work and her professionalism, that he offered her the commission. Again, due to a confidentiality agreement, she cannot reveal the design.On the day of the wedding in 2000, she was flown to Scotland with the cake accompanied by Madonna’s father and Guy Ritchie’s mother. They had a police escort all the way to the event at Skibo Castle in Sutherland.”It was quite surreal,” she says.”You get caught up in the adrenalin of the day. There’s a real buzz.”Both Madonna’s and Pierce Brosnan’s wedding cakes were made in her kitchen at home. But, as the business expanded, Mich hired staff and looked for commercial premises. In 2001, and after months of searching, she found the current property and had it adapted. It is situated in a quiet cobbled mews – perfect for high-profile clients to visit without being spotted.Initially, baking was done on-site, but as orders increased, Mich moved production to two other off-site bakeries. One is in nearby Euston and the other in Greenwich, south-east London.The cakes are baked to her exact requirements and delivered to the design studio to be iced and decorated.Mich also leaves nothing to chance. “You can’t get it wrong. These people [celebrities] ensure they surround themselves with absolute professionals.”But she does take spares. For Pierce Brosnan’s wedding she made an exact replica dummy of the cake. Polystyrene tiers were iced and decorated in the same way as the original.If there were any damages a spare tier could be put in its place. Mich delivered the 24 boxes to his home in California with the help of special services at London Heathrow airport.This is all part of her service and is included in the cost. Clients can expect to pay anything from £600 for a three-tier cake for up to 120 people, to about £5,000.The amount includes a consultation, usually three months before the event, to discuss themes, design ideas, recipes, decoration and size.They can choose a cake from a portfolio or Mich will adapt or design a cake based on their brief. When she creates a new design, Mich is the only one in her team able to do so.She will make a prototype or have it photographed and will then give the qualified production team tuition on how to recreate it. If the event is in central London, the cake will be taken to the event, set up and dressed.The Little Venice Cake Company, which is a member of the Federation of Small Businesses, never advertises. Work comes from recommendation or through articles in magazines or other media.Mich has been interviewed on TV and radio and has given lectures. The company’s website also gets about 10,000 hits a week.Its audience has grown with the publication of Mich’s first book, Spectacular Cakes. Even the Queen was sent a copy. The book won a national award for best dessert book in the Gourmand World Cookbook awards. It is a beautifully photographed step-by-step guide to designing and decorating cakes for all occasions. It is aimed at both the novice and accomplished baker and includes the principles of constructing a cake, icing techniques, moulding and design.Mich is looking to expand the business and increase turnover – currently £500,000 – but not by increasing production. “Having bigger premises means more cost and you are not actually making any more money.”She aims to boost profits through more design consultancy work. The firm already works with the multiples, including Marks & Spencer. By 2010, when she turns 40, she hopes the business will be where she wants it.Its success so far is down to Mich’s unerring belief in herself. “I’ve always been headstrong; if I turn my hand to something, it will be successful,” she says.But she has also worked hard to make it happen, and she would advise anyone thinking of setting up a business to plan carefully before starting. “It’s really hard work. The buck stops with you. If you are working at 2am on a cake that has to be done, you have to do it. You have to put the business first.”But the rewards are worth the effort, especially when you have made something stunning. As she says: “It’s nice to be able to say, ’Yes, I did that’.”* Spectacular Cakes by Mich Turner is published by Jacqui Small.last_img read more

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Love Smoothies embraces the seasons in latest line

first_imgSmoothie company Love Smoothies has added a gourmet menu of four smoothies – Black Fruity, Popeye’s Pick Me Up, Beat the Bluesli and Son of a Peach – to its range.The company now has 12 smoothie recipes split into three menus – summer, winter and gourmet.It supplies recipes, individually-frozen fruit pouches, natural supplements and smoothie makers and provides training for staff and bespoke point-of-sale material.It can also help customers to set up juice and smoothie bars within businesses, hospitals and schools.[http://www.lovesmoothies.com]last_img read more

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Artisan angle

first_imgThe Speciality & Fine Food Fair London, taking place at the Grand Hall at Olympia, London, will feature over 700 exhibitors, catering for everyone from delis and independent retailers to chefs and restaurateurs looking to source artisan food and drink.The fair will feature exhibitors in soft drinks, cafés, biscuits, hot beverages and bread and baked goods sectors among others and will also be reflecting increasing consumer demand for ethically-produced and sourced products.”Small producers are not only passionate about what they do, but how they go about doing it. We are seeing more and more exhibitors actively looking at ways they can support local communities, deal fairly with suppliers – especially in developing countries – avoid using unnatural ingredients and processes and lessen their carbon footprint,” said exhibition director Paul MacDonald.The 15th Great Taste Awards are one of the special attractions as are the popular Fine Food and Small Business Forums. This year there will be a wider range of small producers, regional suppliers and international companies, many of which will be unveiling new products at the show. The new Speciality Chocolate Fair will be launching as part of the event where products will be showcased from manufacturers and chocolatiers supplying into the UK. Exhibitors include: The Chocolate Empire, Demarquette Fine Chocolates and Ooh La La Chocolaterie and No Nuts…Just Chocolate.last_img read more

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In my world: the plant baker

first_imgJohn Foster is MD of Fosters Bakery, based in Barnsley, south Yorkshire, which supplies fresh and frozen products into major retailers, airlines and caterersImagine a key piece of equipment is playing up and you call in a skilled mechanic to give it a service. I guess you’d be mortified if the repairman only had one tool in his toolbox – to be used no matter what the underlying problem was.Yet this is exactly how the government controls inflation – by the Bank of England, through their one tool of hitting the interest rate, no matter what the underlying problem in the UK or global economy.With the economy overheating, an interest rate hike reduced the disposable income in Joe Public’s pocket and reined in his spending, retailers were squeezed and, in turn, they screwed suppliers. It seemed to work, albeit painfully for food manufacturers.But the inflationary pressures are no longer frenzied indulgent spending; the problems are global, weather and commodity-based. The symptom of inflation has a different cause and therefore needs a different treatment. Mrs Foster reckons that food and fuel increases are as good as an increase in the interest rate to curb unnecessary overspending – people do not need additional Bank of England-imposed pressure.In our business we still do our own maintenance, transport, and a number of things we could easily subcontract. Over the years, I have been advised to outsource non-core activities and rid us of the burden. We use very few pre-mixes and prefer scratch recipes. We prefer permanent well-trained staff to temporary labour. Offloading burdens can sound attractive, but the government, having outsourced interest rate control to the Bank of England, has lost control and, I suspect, may pay a heftier price.In recessive times the key to survival is control. The ability to change a variety of ingredients in a recipe, along with the retained knowledge of how to do it, means you can adapt where others cannot. The ability to modify a piece of equipment quickly and cheaply in-house, to respond to customer desires, is a competitive advantage.The ailments in the economy are different from those of the past decade or so, like the ailments in the current wheat crop. There is no magic formula to today’s problems, but a full toolbox and wide knowledge is important – in recipe formulation, production control, delivering customer service or controlling the UK inflation rate. Just after the Iron Curtain fell, I delivered charity aid medical supplies into Romania. Included in our supplies were some rectal tubes – used, I guess, to stick up the appropriate body orifice for bowel disorders. One stock-depleted hospital told me that the syringes, needles and dressings would run out in about a month, the rectal tubes – perhaps a year. I asked what they would do when the supplies ran out and the answer was that they use whatever tools they have.My thoughts were with the poor souls requiring treatment over the next two to nine months; no matter what their ailment, the only treatment available would be a rectal tube – about as welcome as another rate increase from the Bank of England!last_img read more

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US Subway stores to serve Starbucks coffee

first_imgStarbucks has announced plans to put its Seattle’s Best Coffee brand into more than 9,000 Subway stores in the US. The freshly brewed coffee will be served in the sandwich chain’s outlets by the end of 2009, with Subway planning more store openings in 2010.A deal has also been signed which will see the Seattle’s Best brand in 800 Canadian Subway outlets by the end of the year.“Today, consumers are looking for and expect a high-quality premium coffee experience wherever they are,” commented Michelle Gass, president of Seattle’s Best Coffee.Established in 1970, Seattle’s Best Coffee has more than 550 specialty coffee cafes, kiosks and other concepts in the US. It is also available nationwide in supermarkets and at more than 6,000 foodservice locations.last_img read more

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Topping Pie secures listing at Selfridges

first_imgSelfridges shoppers in London, Manchester and Birmingham can now enjoy traditionally handcrafted pies from Doncaster pie-makers The Topping Pie Company, after they won a listing with the chain.The premium pies are made to homemade family recipes, using natural, locally sourced ingredients. Yorkshire Farmer’s Pie contains pork and chunks of chicken and ham, marinated in a wholegrain honey mustard, while Scrumpy Pie has a layer of pork and turkey chunks with a celery and cider relish, and Huntsman Pie contains chicken breast in a layer of pork and seasoned sage and onion stuffing.Topping’s new Hot Chilli Pork Pie, a recent Guild of Fine Foods Great Taste Gold Award winner, also has a listing. It includes chilli seasoning supplied by Bradfordbased Gordon Rhodes. Said Topping’s MD Roger Topping: “It took several attempts to get the chilli tang, pork pie fl avour andtaste just right, but we knew we had a winner with the final product.”>>Co-op pie contract is top news for Topping familylast_img read more

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Video: Unifine focuses on NPD following acquisition

first_imgIngredients manufacturer Unifine invited British Baker to its Ingredients in Action workshop at Squires Kitchen.Graham Dunton, Unifine’s chef patissier, discussed the Dawn Foods acquisition along with new product development for 2012 set to revolutionise the bakery and food manufacturing industries.Music: Pasadena by Emerald Park (Creative Commons licence)YouTube link: http://youtu.be/5wBC9W_zRcQlast_img

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Indiana unemployment rate soars to 16.9%

first_img Twitter CoronavirusIndianaLocalNews By Jon Zimney – May 22, 2020 0 834 WhatsApp Pinterest WhatsApp Google+ Facebook Twittercenter_img Indiana unemployment rate soars to 16.9% EDITOR’S NOTES:Data are sourced from April Current Employment Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Facebook “3D Employment Graph” by Chris Potter, CC BY-SA 2.0 Indiana’s unemployment rate has soared to a record 16.9% percent as the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic comes into focus.Indiana’s unemployment rate went up fivefold in April to spike from the 10th-lowest jobless rate in the country to the fifth highest. Only three states had a bigger increase. The state lost nearly a half-million jobs — that’s also a record since state-level data began in 1976.Ball State economist Michael Hicks warns the reopening of businesses this month probably won’t do much to bring those jobs back. He says consumer spending had already begun to plunge even before Governor Holcomb announced what became a six-week stay-at-home order on March 23. He says industries most affected by social distancing requirements, like restaurants, casinos, and hotels, will be slowest to recover.And Hicks says the jobless rate is understating the real number, because it’s based on a survey conducted around April 12. He says the May number is likely to be more than 20-percent.Hicks says the actual flood of job losses is slowing down, based on the declining number of new unemployment claims. But until there’s a vaccine or an effective treatment for coronavirus, he says there’s not much the administration can do to bring jobs back. All it can do is try to avoid making matters worse, by helping people keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Holcomb announced this week he’s expanding a ban on new foreclosures and evictions another four weeks, to July 1.The following information was released by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development:INDIANAPOLIS (May 22, 2020) – Indiana’s unemployment rate stands at 16.9 percent for April and is higher than the national rate of 14.7 percent. The monthly unemployment rate is a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicator that reflects the number of unemployed people seeking employment within the prior four weeks as a percentage of the labor force.Indiana’s labor force had a net decrease of 40,450 over the previous month. This was a result of an increase of 446,017 unemployed residents and a decrease of 486,467 employed residents. Indiana’s total labor force, which includes both Hoosiers employed and those seeking employment, stands at 3.23 million, and the state’s 61.4 percent labor force participation rate is above the national rate of 60.2 percent.Learn more about how unemployment rates are calculated here: http://www.hoosierdata.in.gov/infographics/employment-status.asp.Employment by SectorPrivate sector employment has decreased by 405,200 over the year and by 380,500 over the previous month. The monthly decrease is primarily due to losses in the Leisure and Hospitality (-116,000), the Manufacturing (-78,200) and the Private Educational and Health Services (-54,200) sectors. Total private employment stands at 2,334,900, which is 414,000 below the January 2019 peak.Midwest Unemployment Rates Google+ Pinterest Previous articleSouth Bend-Mishawaka YMCA has announced it’s closing indefinitelyNext articleSen. Todd Young to visit South Bend on his RESTART Tour Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney.last_img read more

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