Friday Wrap: A round-up of the week's hospitality news

by Chris Druce, Friday 1st February 2008 18:00

Off with his head. Off with his head.

It was a spectacular fall from grace for Mitchells & Butlers this week.

The darling of the pub trade had to concede that betting all the family silverware on a property deal, which was in the balance due to the credit crunch, might not have been the best idea. It wrote down £274m of profit as a result.

Mark Burmby an analyst at Blue Oar Securities said of the loss it was a “monumental, career-ending debacle of the first order” and sure enough chief financial officer Karim Naffah has gone.

Things look a bit dicey for the rest of the board, especially chief executive Tim Clarke, and the vultures are now circling the pub company.

Want to learn to cook with Gordon? Well you soon may be able to as Mr Ramsay is planning a catering academy and protégée Angela Hartnett is set to return to the London dining scene at an as yet unnamed boutique hotel.

With fears over consumer spending gathering pace you might think high-street operators have enough to worry about.

Despite this, a leading food service consultant has warned that hospitality operators are on a hiding to nowhere if they use tough trading conditions as a reason to continue ignoring the issue of sustainability in the supply chain.

MPs have called on pubs to use smaller wine glasses as licensing reform begins today in Scotland.

Still, Surrey County Cricket Club has got the green-light for a hotel at last.

And Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie has added another title, Scottish Chef of the Year.

Although the meaning of life may well be 42, you no doubt have other questions you’d like an answer to as well.

This is where we come in, as we’ve got none other than Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell and Hell’s Kitchen star Marco Pierre White (MPW) on hand to answer your queries (alas not together).

Caterer editor Mark Lewis will be interviewing MPW at this year’s Chef Conference on 12 May at the InterContinental Park Lane. So why not ask the legendary chef/restaurateur a question?

The person who sends in the best as judged by us will receive a free ticket to the 2008 Chef Conference, plus a place at the conference dinner - a package together worth £250.

Hot of the press is the news that Michelin-starred Danish chef Rene Redzepi, one of Europe’s brightest talents, will perform a culinary demonstration in the UK for the first time at the Chef Conference.

Arena, now in its 25th year, has none other than Alastair Campbell lined up as its guest speaker at its annual lecture and dinner on 19 February.

Yes Tony Blair’s spin doctor in chief will be on hand to answer your questions and we’re giving you the opportunity to put your queries to Campbell and win one of five signed copies of his book: The Blair Years.


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