This year?s HTA Catering Conference, sponsored by Compass Group UK & Ireland, was once again a great success, with lots of positive feedback delegates taking away some valuable insights from our fantastic speakers.
Our Keynote Speaker?for day one was Peter Avis, UK Restaurant Manager of the Year. He shared his inspirational story of how he went from a dishwasher to restaurant manager at the prestigious Babylon Rooftop Gardens. Through being encouraged by his managers at the beginning of his career, he was able to see how that company culture helps to empower staff and make them feel like they can achieve, and this is something that he has ensured he has continued with his staff today.
The evening played host to our annual HTA Catering Conference dinner where we were graced with the presence of 2016 MasterChef Winner, Jane Devonshire. Jane shared with us her down to earth and inspirational story of how her son convinced her to apply for MasterChef, and how no matter what the competition threw at her, she enjoyed every minute. By cooking dishes from her childhood and family favourites throughout the show, it echoed the sentiment highlighted by many speakers at the conference, that the atmosphere and feelings that you are able to create in your cafes and restaurants and the food you serve are just as important as the food itself. The dinner was followed by the Greatest Catering Awards, presented by Trevor Pfeiffer from Garden Trade News.
Over the past few years the National Trust has rejuvenated their cafes and restaurants, and Matt Drew, Head of Food and Beverage, talked us through the strategies that they used. When they first started to look at the redevelopment plans, the first point of call was the menu. They discovered there were 40,000 recipes in use throughout the business, so they narrowed this down to a range of central recipes that individual outlets can choose from to suit their customers. The ingredients that each outlet choose to use for these recipes though is not prescriptive as they are encouraged to use local produce where possible.
The full HTA Catering Conference report, including details of all the speakers workshops can be viewed at www.hta.org.uk/cateringconference