Event review: Commercial Kitchen 2023

One of the UK’s leading foodservice shows, Commercial Kitchen was full of innovation and ideas. It brought a substantial number of visitors too, reports Michael Jones

Not just one show, but three co-located together, last week saw Commercial Kitchen, Casual Dining and lunch! take place at ExCeL London, UK, on 27-28 September.

Casual Dining is marketed as the UK’s ‘definitive trade event for the restaurant, pub and bar sector’, while lunch! is ‘the definitive event for the café, coffee shop & food-to-go sector’. Commercial Kitchen, meanwhile, is promoted as ‘the event for executive chefs and decision makers from professional kitchens’.

Together the shows featured 600+ exhibitors, boasted seven keynote theatres (sponsored by Uber Eats), saw three innovation challenges, and had 165+ industry-leading speakers on the program. An eclectic mix of visiting buyers, retailers and café, restaurant and pub operators were able to enjoy networking opportunities and the chance to explore new innovations across the show floors.

Speakers across the program of the three shows included luminaries such as Tom Shepherd, Chef Owner, Upstairs by Tom Shepherd; Paul Dickinson, Head Coach, England’s National Culinary Team; Jane Treasure, Food & Beverage Director, PizzaExpress; Steve  Mangleshot, Global Executive Chef & Brand Ambassador, Wagamama; Dan Wilson, Head of Food, BaxterStorey; Gemma Evans-Hurley, Culinary Lead of Projects, Compass Group UK&I; Nisha Katona, Founder, Mowgli Street Food; Laura Harper-Hinton, Co-Founder & CEO, Caravan; Gavin Smith, Managing Director, Pizza Pilgrims; Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive, UKHospitality; Guy Meakin, UK Shops & Franchise Director, Pret A Manger; Dominic Allport, Consulting Director, GlobalData; and Angelina Harrison, Brand Director, Tossed.

FCSI on food fraud and food security

At Commercial Kitchen, on Thursday 28 September, I had the pleasure of chairing a special FCSI panel session addressing the subject of UK food security and food fraud; as well as talking about dealing with food inflation and supply chain challenges. Panellists Julian Edwards FCSI, chair of FCSI UK & Ireland, and Matthew Merritt-Harrison FCSI, past chair of FCSI UK&I, discussed the key challenges the UK the foodservice sector is facing right now in terms of the cost-of-living crisis and the primary impacts being felt.

“As a direct impact [of the challenges] we have seen a lot of foodservice operators in the market who are ‘menu engineering’ to save costs, so there is less meat. Inadvertently they are actually ticking the sustainability box, so there are a few positives. But typically the stress is going forward onto clients and into the food budget. We’re all being held over a barrel by the food system at the moment. Increased prices are the only option operators have, but they’re seeing less footfall. It’s really detrimental to the whole market,” said Edwards.

Food security, said Merritt-Harrison, is “a significant problem. It’s a global issue. Food supply is affected by oil prices and the war in Ukraine. We are not immune to these factors. The UK is even vulnerable when one [major] supplier has announced that its drivers are going to go on strike. That’s not ok when you’re feeding vulnerable people, children, or people in hospitals or care homes. Food security is critical to them. The problem is that the inflation we have seen in food directly affects the poorest in society, because their level of disposable income is much lower.”

Very much focused on solutions, as well as presenting the scale of the challenge, the panel also took in how much of a a serious problem food fraud has become and what the industry must do to tackle it, as well as how technology such as blockchain can help to mitigate against food fraud. The FCSI Professional members also looked at how the UK food supply chain can improve and spread the risk away from ‘Just in time’ logistics, which were very exposed during the pandemic.

Innovation Challenge – the results

The most innovative products, services and new technologies to enhance professional kitchens and make them more efficient, were showcased in a dedicated gallery on the show floor of Commercial Kitchen. The shortlisted companies pitched their products live on stage on day two, the products were then tested by a panel of judges who determined whether it deserved a gold, silver of bronze award.

The winners:


Altro Stronghold ™ 30 adhesive–free 


The judges said: “we love the clean design, durability and sustainability of the product. It’s a fantastic and unique offering.” 

Jestic Food Service Solutions

Henny Penny F5


The judges said: “We love the ease of use and the high–capacity performance. The product has superb energy efficiency and simplicity in training.” 

Pro Foodservice Reps

Hatco Drop-in Induction Dry Well


The judges said: “its impressive that there is such a commitment to innovation and hugely beneficial that there is such energy–saving.

Retigo UK

Retigo Wow Training


The judges said “the training covers multi-skill levels. It’s supportive for the industry and key to safety.” 

Unox UK



The judges said: “we were wowed with the level of innovation and forward–thinking technology. The product is a carbon production champion.”

Welbilt UK

Merrychef® Panini Press


The judges said: “the capability of the product is incredible and it’s a modern addition to a current range.” 

Welbilt UK

Merrychef conneX® 16


The judges said: “a versatile and effective item. There is fast production, it accelerates cooking needs. Incredibly user friendly.”


B37 Cryogenic Quenching 73 Layer Damascus Chef Knife


Further details:

For more information on Commercial Kitchen, Casual Dining and lunch!, visit https://www.commercialkitchenshow.co.uk/.

Michael Jones

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