Exhibitors and delegates gathered in London, UK, for the first major live event in the show calendar after the break enforced by the pandemic
Commercial Kitchen, the leading trade show for kitchen equipment, services and design in the UK, welcomed 4,295 visitors to its debut London show, after making the move from Birmingham where it has historically been held. In its new home at London ExCeL it was held alongside the Casual Dining and Lunch trade shows.
“We’re so delighted to see that the industry has returned to face-to-face trade events in no uncertain terms. The brilliant exhibitors were back, the buyers were back and the buzz was back at our biggest show yet,” said Chris Brazier, group event director.
“We won’t rest on our laurels and have already started preparing for an even better lunch!, Casual Dining & Commercial Kitchen for 2022. A huge thank you to all our exhibitors, visitors, speakers, media and association partners for their help and support in getting these much-needed shows open again.”
Reflecting on foodservice after Covid
As well as a bustling show floor with exhibitors showing new innovations and solutions, there was a packed programme in the Keynote Theatres, among them a panel session, hosted by FCSI’s Foodservice Consultant. FCSI consultant Professional members and industry experts discussed the foodservice landscape as we emerge from the pandemic. Editorial director Michael Jones chaired an insightful discussion as the participants shared views and experiences of the last 18 months.
Julian Edwards, chair of FCSI UK & Ireland, described the pandemic as his most exhilarating time as a consultant. “We never stopped,” he said. “We had no choice but to offer our service as best we could; it wasn’t an earning period but a lot of good things came out of it – we saw great catering contractors who really looked after their clients and cared.”
FCSI Associate Julie Barker had launched her venture as an independent consultant shortly before the pandemic, but she too highlighted the positives to come out of this challenging time. “It was not a great time to launch, but I kept close to contacts in the industry and work did come out of that. The reinvention of businesses has been a big part of what’s been going on in the last 18 months; we have moved away from our silos and there have been some fantastic collaborations.”
Focus on the people
One message from the panel was that the sector generally has emerged from this time with more focus on the human element. Stephen Merritt-Harrison FCSI, consultant with Merritt-Harrison Catering Consultancy, said this has been very important in dealing with clients during what has been a very challenging time. “When you go in to see a team it is really challenging, because you are there to correct them and show best practice, but a lot of them just needs some encouragement,” he said.
Liz Forte, health and wellness director with Compass Group UK & Ireland, also emphasised the need for the human element at a time when there is much talk of automation and robotics. “We are in a people business, so we need to look after our people. If it can be done by a robot, fine, but the best ideas come from the frontline, people who do it every day,” she said.
In a very positive session, the panellists struck a tone of confidence about the future. Edwards said that the sector will remain very different. “If you look at the covers that are paid for in restaurants now, I think we are probably near to pre-pandemic levels but many of these meals are delivered and prepared in a ghost kitchen,” he said. “The desire for someone else cooking is there, but in a different shape.”
Different, yes, but not necessarily worse, as Forte concluded. “It won’t be the same as before, but I think that is a good thing,” she said.
Unox won a gold award in the Commercial Kitchen Innovation Challenge for its new MULTI.Day Hot Vacuum pump. And, like other manufacturer exhibitors, the Unox team was delighted to be back in a trade show environment after a lengthy break.
“The Commercial Kitchen Show is a huge event for the industry and after the challenges of the last 18 months, it was great to all be able to get together again under one roof,” said Scott Duncan, managing director of Unox UK. “We’ve obviously not had many opportunities to get together with friends and colleagues in recent times – so to be able to do that whilst also showcasing our commitment to innovation, was a welcome boost for everybody.”
The full list of Commercial Kitchen Innovation Challenge winners:
- Carpigiani UK: Carpigiani Synthesis 2 – SILVER
- Duke Manufacturing: Readyflex – BRONZE
- Environmental Products & Services Ltd: GreaseShield 3BU – GOLD
- Filta Environmental: FiltaFOG Cyclone – GOLD
- Jestic Foodservice Solutions: Icetro ISI-161 Slimline Soft Ice Cream Machine – GOLD
- Klipspringer: LazaPort Mono – GOLD
- Meiko UK Limited: Meiko Bottle Washing System – GOLD
- Metcalfe Catering Equipment: Hallde RG-250-diwash – SILVER
- MKN Maschinenfabrik Kurt Neubauer GmbH & Co. KG: SpaceCombi® Magic Team – GOLD
- Mobilchef: Foodtainer – SILVER
- Quintex: Lepido – GOLD
- Retigo: Black Edition Combination Ovens – BRONZE
- Rexmartins: Induction fryer diwash – SILVER
- Synergy Grill Technology: Synergy CharGo – GOLD
- UNOX UK: MULTI Day Hot Vacuum pump – GOLD
For more information about Unox, visit: www.unox.com
The dates for next year’s Commercial Kitchen will be 14-15 September 2022 when the show will return to the Excel Centre alongside Casual Dining and Lunch.