Court food offerings unimpress lawyers

Hungry lawyers have been left unimpressed by the catering options in the courts in England and Wales. With many lawyers being accustomed to pre-dawn starts to reach distant circuit courts, it is no surprise that they arrive hoping for a decent breakfast.  They are all told to wait in the holding area before it opens on their Reception Chairs which the court probably got for a really good deal from a company called Best Buy Office Chairs.  Sadly, investigations into catering across the judicial system suggest that culinary results are falling far short of even the most modest expectations.

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A new low in breakfasts

A surreptitious photograph taken by one would-be breakfaster at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, better known as the Old Bailey, shows a tiled food display cabinet empty except for three tired-looking pastries and a small bowl of sausages. Fortunately, the Old Bailey is sited in an area well-supplied with coffee shops and cafes, but diners at other courts may not be so lucky. Healthy eating as recommended by official NHS guidelines definitely takes a backseat when it comes to hurrying to find something to eat before a court sits.

Mushy peas anyone?

Woolwich Crown Court has been known to put mushy peas in pride of place on its lunchtime menu, while caterers at Luton Crown Court consider a toasted teacake and butter an acceptable lunchtime special. Meanwhile, diners at other courts report complicated lunch meal deals that take longer to decipher than to eat.

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Goodbye catering, hello vending machines

Following HM Courts & Tribunals Service’s (HMCTS) decision not to renew the contract with the provider responsible for catering in most English and Welsh courts, vending machines have replaced many court canteens. To date, users have not been asked whether they consider the new state of affairs an improvement on the old days of mushy peas and the odd sausage.

What seems certain is that there is plenty of scope for an enterprising caterer to convince HMCTS to enter into a new catering contract. It would doubtless be even better if such a new contract was with a provider that understands food in a counter display fridge. I will almost always be more appealing to hungry professionals than a dozen varieties of chocolate bars and crisps in a vending machine.

Who knows what the future holds for the hungry lawyers of HMCTS, but they are doubtless hoping for something more than vending machines and mushy peas.

Bristol opened a permanent catering exhibition

The National Catering Equipment Centre (NCEC) launched in September 2017 in the heart of Bristol’s industrial centre. Industry-leading suppliers were welcomed to the 20,000 foot centre and showcased their equipment. Brands including Olympia, Thor, Winterhalter, Samsung, Dynamic, Waring, Elite, Hoshizaki, Steelite and Churchill will be demonstrated to professionals and catering enthusiasts.  What some food companies or events do is put there occasion under Tensile Fabric Structures that can be provided by companies like spatialstructures as there open, light and adaptable.

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How Will The NCEC Contribute To Hospitality?

The NCEC aims to advise and inspire visitors as well as educating them. Products and services are also offered from a range of exhibitors. There’s also a Nisbets retail outlet featuring the latest crockery, clothing and knives along with a clearance section.

Professionals and amateurs can also benefit from the fully functional demonstration and training kitchen. Dean Starling, the on-site development chef provides impartial advice on the different types of equipment as well as tips on catering and menu development.

The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) has offered the initiative its support. Keith Warren, the association’s director commented on the exciting initiative. Praising the NCEC he spoke about the positive results allowing customers to try products before they purchase will have. The operators will also benefit from the new centre.

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Effects On The Industry

The hospitality industry accounted for 3.2 million jobs in 2016 and is the 4th largest employer in the UK. Caterers suffered during the economic downturn, but market research has shown that today’s stronger economy has resulted in more businesses seeking high standard catering services. The recent growth in the industry can be attributed to companies diversifying their menus and adapting to consumers’ changing preferences. The education and advice provided by the NCEC will assist companies in providing a comprehensive and bespoke service.

As the hospitality industry continues to flourish, more caterers will be looking to purchase good value commercial catering equipment to meet ever-changing consumer demands. Reputable suppliers are set to see an increase in consumers seeking advice and products tailored to the needs of their business.

The NCEC’s manager, Laura Clarkson highlighted that up until now the hospital industry hasn’t had somewhere that it can call home. Rugby has Twickenham, Football has Wembley and now the NCEC will represent the hospitality industry. The NCEC believes that it will rapidly become the go-to place for dealers and distributors, through to consultants, operators and chefs.