Readers of Caterer are urged by a correspondent from India to begin offering the traditional Indian dish of curry on English restaurant menus. Praise is given to its efficacy to the digestive system and the general wellbeing of anyone eating it. The correspondent suggests its popularity will grow much beyond those who have served the Crown in India. There is scepticism in ensuing letters to the editor.
A miner's strike this Easter is having catastrophic effects on the hotel and restaurant industry in Britain. Trains expected to carry hundreds of thousands of trippers to the seaside cannot run. Hoteliers in Morecambe have held a protest meeting. Skegness reports 130 visitors on Easter Monday instead of the 13,000 expected. Hotels are suffering, unable to heat water or do much cooking. A large London hotel consumes up to 10 tons of coal a day.
A new level in opulent dining has begun this April, when 550 diners can be accommodated in one sitting, and such is the grand scale of catering that 10,000 items of tableware are needed to cater for guests. Caterer predicts that the RMS Titanic will set new standards in luxury travel.
The war is starting to have a serious effect on the catering industry. German wines are now banned and a new voluntary food-rationing system for restaurants has been introduced. The previous system was based on restricting the number of dishes on the menu, which took no regard of portion size. The new voluntary code is based on weight of food per meal. Restaurants should offer no more than 2oz of meat for breakfast, 5oz for luncheon and 5oz for dinner.
Airline catering takes off with the first flight of the R33 airship on a trip to the Netherlands and France. A chef and a waiter from the Criterion restaurant, Piccadilly, attended passengers, cooking in a full hot kitchen inside the airship such dishes as roast lamb, lobster, partridge and soufflés. Fire certificates for cooking on open ranges in hydrogen balloons are not currently required. Caterer predicts that, before long, air travel will become commonplace.
Owing to growing availability of electric current, it is suggested that electricity could play a role in powering cooking equipment in the future. Electric cooking equipment is cleaner than coal ovens, it can be turned on and off as wanted, and with no coaling to be done there are labour savings. However, there is widespread mistrust of electricity. Caterer reports that chefs have always been reluctant to accept change to traditional cooking methods.
The catering industry is being badly affected by a new working time directive issued by the Government. The Shops Bill, which includes restaurants and hotels in its remit, will limit to 48 the number of hours in a week young persons under the age of 18 can work. Hoteliers counter this by saying that they should be exempt from this legislation.
The Performing Right Society (PRS) has warned hotels that they are now expected to take out one of the new PRS licences if they wish to play gramophone records or have a radio playing in the lounge - legally. Throughout the sector, there is widespread anger at this imposition.
The Spanish Civil War is causing great concern among Britain's hoteliers as the rebel forces have stopped the export of sherry and tinned sardines, saying food and drink must be conserved to feed Spain's own population.
Concerned at the growing popularity of foreign holidays, Caterer launches a campaign to urge British holiday-makers not to venture into Europe, where there are wars and warmongers at every turn, but to take their holidays in Britain.
Hotels and restaurants have done bumper business as six years of the Second World War officially end, but have rejected an accusation that they are profiteering from the victory celebrations. Among the London hotels which are putting on special VE packages are the Dorchester, the Savoy, the Ritz and Grosvenor House.
The catering industry has come under attack for profiteering when a widely publicised investigation into the 10% service charge on bills claims that hotels and restaurants are keeping money paid with bills as service charges and not passing it on to staff. The Hotel and Restaurant Association strongly refuted the allegation that service charges are covertly kept by management.
Some food is still rationed, but caterers are nonetheless expected to put on a tasty bill of fare. One answer is the availability of canned whale meat, which the Whalemeat Advisory Bureau says is ideal for catering applications. Caught and canned in Canada, whale meat comes in several styles. There is corned whale meat, whale meat roll and, most popular of all, the very trendy whaleburger.
The Catering Wages Commission is to investigate whether hotels can count tips as part of an employee's salary. A restaurant owner tells Caterer that no employer would ever try to count staff tips as part of statutory wages.
Food is still not plentiful and rationing will not end until next year, so caterers are being urged by food manufacturer Symingtons to try some imaginative soup flavours that get round rationing restrictions. These include kidney, romany, mock turtle and mock hare. To combat difficulties encountered in obtaining fresh fish, a leading fish merchant says that caterers should try serving fish other than Dover sole, halibut and turbot. He suggests the little-known but very cheap monkfish as an alternative, adding: "In my opinion, it will eventually become one of the popular fish in restaurants."
A revolution in hotel entertainment is predicted with the introduction from the USA of the Bal Ami Juke Box, a coin-operated gramophone that can be positioned in hotel lounge areas and play music styles ranging from opera to swing. The importers say this machine "will put an end to the raucous canned music currently heard in hotels and restaurants".
The opening of high-speed motorway roads in Britain has prompted a Parliamentary question by the MP for Truro, who has asked the minister of transport if catering arrangements will meet the expectations of the travelling public. The ministerial reply is that service areas will be placed at 25-mile intervals and will offer catering of the finest hotel standard.
Catering students at Bolton Technical College are told by the vice-president of the Catering Managers' Association that industrial catering is a dead-end job where they will not receive the training necessary to work in a hotel, where proper jobs lie.
A leading contract caterer has made a plea for food suppliers to stabilise the cost of peeled potatoes in works canteens. Otherwise, we will be forced to switch to pasta and rice or eat starchy foods such as sandwiches for lunch. "This could be a disaster for the ultimate health of the nation."
Plans have been announced to turn the Thames Valley into the biggest tourism centre in Europe. Hotel and tourism bodies have formed a marketing consortium, claiming that areas such as Slough and Reading have as much to offer to the holidaymaker as do the more popular tourist destinations such as Windsor and Oxford.
The dead hand of state dictatorship is about to fall on independently owned hotels in Scotland. That is how hoteliers have reacted to the news that the Scottish Tourist Board is to start hotel assessment and registration. "We are going to be nationalised. Tourist boards know nothing about hotels," exclaims one irate Scottish hotelier.
The introduction of VAT on restaurant bills next year will lead to huge numbers of closures in the industry, with smaller hotels and restaurants unable to cope with the increase to their prices. Thus warns Mr J Inglis of McTavish's Kitchens, Oban. Speaking at a hotel conference at Turnberry hotel, he says there are clear reasons why VAT should not apply to the hospitality industry.
American visitors are complaining bitterly about hotel prices in central London. A survey conducted by British Airways of departing US tourists found almost half of them thought London hotel prices were far too high. "I can go to the Caribbean for the same price, and I get the sun there," complains one disgruntled US visitor.
The hotel industry is going to have to get used to paying higher wages, says Scottish & Newcastle's training officer, Mr H Crosthwaite. "We are moving from being a low-wage industry to a high-wage industry," he says. "Gone are the days when we could run a sweatshop."
At the opening of the first Fast Food Fair in Brighton, leading hotel consultant Melvyn Greene has shocked the industry by announcing: "By the 1980s, the traditional restaurant luncheon and dinner as we know them will not exist."
A Birmingham restaurateur says he has found a way to keep coloured people out of his restaurant, Pollyanna, and not be at odds with the Commission for Racial Equality. He intends to discriminate on the grounds of social judgment, not on the basis of colour. The owner says that he is determined to keep his restaurant white-only: "You have to discriminate in this business to survive."
The Earl of Bradford, owner of Porter's restaurant in London, is asking other caterers to send him £10 each to fund a campaign to get England's licensing laws relaxed. In return for their £10, caterers will get a badge, a petition form and a sticker.
Lord Forte says we are an industry that is being attacked from all sides, sometimes unfairly. "People in this industry work very hard without counting the hours," he says. "We don't know what unsocial hours are."
British hoteliers are bracing themselves this week to see how US travellers will react to the Karachi airline hijacking, in which 18 Americans died and 100 were injured. The fear is that they will see US tourists as a target for Middle East terrorists. London hotelier George Goring says it will only do harm to incoming US tourism if President Reagan gets tough against Libya.
The new head of vending machines at Compass is 29-year-old Charles Allen, who moves back to the UK from the Middle East, where, Mr Allen says, a vending machine operation is difficult to run: "Arabs are psychologically opposed to coins."
Caterers are becoming increasingly worried about a disease outbreak among cattle called BSE, or "mad cow disease". However, caterers have been told by the Government there is nothing to worry about. Food minister David MacLean tells Caterer that "a supply of safe, healthy, wholesome meat and meat products" is assured to caterers.
"When we [Labour] come to power, compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) will be abolished," shadow environment secretary Bryan Gould has announced. He says that CCT is driving down quality in local authority catering. The Tory government rubbishes this claim as an empty pledge.
The recession has begun claiming hotels. Queens Moat Houses shares have been suspended after running up debts estimated at £1b. In March alone, 42 hotels went into receivership.
Rocco Forte has taken effective complete control of the Forte empire with the standing down from the board of his father, Lord Forte. Rocco Forte is bullish about the future of the Forte empire under his direction.
Caterers in Cornwall expected huge business from tourists flocking to the West Country to see the solar total eclipse, an expectation that has been proved wrong. Caterers are predicting equally huge business from the millennium celebrations and are confident nothing will go wrong.
A future issue of Caterer will report on that prediction - as it has done on every other prediction for the past 100 years.