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Event review: The Professional Kitchen Show

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The new show brought the crowds and plenty of new product launches

A new year has brought with it a new, two-day UK show for the foodservice and hospitality sector. The Professional Kitchen Show, co-located with The Foodservice Show, took place this week and proved to be a serious draw for attendees and exhibitors.

Organisers Fresh Montgomery has overhauled and revamped the Great Hospitality Show, splitting the floor space at The NEC, Birmingham, into a catering equipment-oriented exhibition, The Professional Kitchen Show, while the neighbouring The Foodservice Show showcases the culinary arts with a two-day programme of chef demonstrations and speaker slots.

The latest equipment and technology

Event director Ross Carter announced 8,000 foodservice and hospitality professionals attended the show on 22-23 January, while 200 suppliers signed up to exhibit “the latest products in food, drink, catering equipment and technology.”

The Spotlight Stage saw operators and industry experts in the spotlight, including Glynn Purnell, head chef and proprietor at Purnell’s; Jan Matthews, COO, Smart Group; and Rakesh Nair, head chef of Cinnamon Club.+

Topics under discussion included 2019 trends, the perennial concern of managing high staff turnover (an issue that will become further exacerbated by Brexit later this year), the future of street food and how to make the grade and achieve a Michelin star.

Connecting kitchens

On The Staff Canteen Live Stage, top UK chefs including Michael Wignall (Angel Inn at Hetton), Ellis Barrie (Marram Grass, pictured) and James Cochran (1251) drew significant crowds as they shared tricks of the trade and the honed culinary techniques of their signature dishes. The Covered Market section of the show showcased premier suppliers of fresh meat, fish, dairy, bakery, fruit and vegetables and herbs and spices, all of which will be used in Salon Culinaire, the UK’s most prestigious chef competition.

Innovation was very much at the fore across the show, with the ‘Kitchenology’ area dedicated to exploring the future of professional catering equipment. On day one of the show, CESA’s Keith Warren, in discussion with Steve Munkley, chief director of Salon Culinaire (pictured), highlighted the factors required to design the commercial kitchen of the future as well as the key individuals needed on board in the decision-making team, including foodservice consultants, to make a kitchen run efficiently.

Products on display in the Kitchenology area included the Rational SelfCookingCentre, the Kitchen Display System by 3S POS, Liebherr’s GKPV 6590 Refrigeration Cabinet, Winterhalter’s Passthrough Energy Saving warewasher, Meiko’s M-iClean UM+ Warewasher and Lainox’s Naboo Combi Oven.

Many exhibitors launched new products at the show. For the first time at a UK show, Welbilt showcased machines from Crem, the coffee equipment brand it purchased in 2018 and is currently integrating into its global marketing framework.

“Crem is very well prepared in the fully automatic coffee machine market. There are lots of overlap and opportunity with Welbilt and plenty of sourcing and procurement synergies,” said Anders Bäckström, sales manager UK & Ireland for Crem.

“As the tenth largest coffee manufacturer in the world, we are the missing piece in the puzzle for Welbilt in terms of hot beverages.”

Welbilt also unveiled its new Merrychef e1s high-speed oven. Designed in the UK but manufactured in China, the machine ensures Welbilt can appeal to customers at a reduced price point.

Hoshizaki showcased its big push for hydrocarbon powered machines at the show, with the Snowflake GII refrigeration, blast chiller and freezer units on display, while Myles Cunliffe, director of Mixology Group, served up a variety of mouthwatering cocktails on the stand to demonstrate the appeal of Hoshizaki’s ‘ball ice’ in beverages.

“Ball ice is becoming very popular in the cocktail market,” he said. “It’s about consistency and quality. Every drink needs to look and be the same.”

New ventures

Synergy Grill, fresh from announcing its new partnership with Lincat, demonstrated its patented Synergy Grill Technology in the Opus 800 model – able to deliver massive energy savings, cleaner, safer kitchens and cleaner ventilation shafts to operators – on a joint stand with Lincat.

“We are growing at a tremendous rate and starting to break into the US market,” said Richard Ebbs, director, commercial marketing, Synergy Grill.

Lincat, meanwhile announced at the show it is expanding into the refrigeration market with a range of own-branded equipment, Lincat Blu°, which will be supplied into the UK via Middleby-owned brand Desmon.

Michael Jones