Hope Cove pod

Location, location, location. Or not…

Location, location, location. This popular phrase has become even more famous by the popular property TV programme with Kirsty and Phil. It dates back to the 1920’s in writing and is often incorrectly attributed to the real estate magnate, Harold Samuel. Back in my hotel management training I seem to remember it being Rocco Forte’s mantra. However, while location is of course critical, when it comes to experiences, is it enough?

On a trip to Devon recently I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful setting of Hope Cove for a friend’s birthday treat – with a meal planned at the Lobster Pot. Here there are a series of unique glass walled dining capsules – kitted out with the latest sound technology and with the backdrop of beautiful and natural views. The perfect setting? It should have been quite an experience with our lovely friends and a stunning view of the sun setting over the cove.

However, the Lobster Pot ran out of lobster (major disappointment for all!), and unfortunately the standard of food was poor. While I appreciate they had limited kitchen facilities, in 2019 that is no excuse for poor quality. An expert could advise on a suitable menu revamp to match the proposition to the setting and the facilities available, guide on recruitment of a new chef to deliver at the level consumers expect and to improve the purchasing quality.

We appreciated the view, the service was attentive and our waitress delightful, and I would recommend a sharing board and wine to anyone interested, but sadly on this occasion the great location was simply not enough.

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All aboard the midnight train to Georgia?

The Eurasian cuisine has been mooted as THE cuisine of 2019 by a San Franciscan hospitality trend consultancy, and it’s largely down to the Instagram popularity of one regional dish, khachapuri; an impressive bread boat filled with cheese and runny egg. What’s not to love?! But is this a one time phenomenon or has it sparked our interest in the mountainous country sandwiched between Europe and Asia?

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It is Georgia’s location at the midpoint of the ancient East–West trade routes, that means that Georgians were seemingly able to hand pick the best of what the Turks, Greeks, Mongols and Arabs were cooking along the Silk Road. The influence from Turkish cooking, Russian dishes and Persian flavours, combined with one of the oldest Jewish populations in the world have resulted in an interesting range of dishes which make use of the country’s own organic produce, and which appeal to us as modern day foodies.

Perhaps surprisingly, walnuts are prominent in Georgian cooking. They are essential in popular dishes such as chicken bazhe and vegetable pkhali (chopped salads) but in a pulverized form it’s often used like the French use butter: whisked into soups and sauces to add richness and body, and when chopped and candied in honey it’s often seen as a simple dessert called gozinaki.

The Georgian table is a full one as their people are said to be very hospitable and love to treat guests to feasts, known as ‘supra’, which often last for hours. Georgia is one of the countries where wine was first produced and it features heavily in their meals, along with many cold and hot starters such as pkhali (chopped vegetables with walnuts and herbs shaped into balls and often spread onto freshly baked slipper shaped loaves), plates of herbs (more like salad leaves in Georgian meals – purple basil and tarragon being very popular and seen as incredible for health) and cheese, clay pot cooked dishes and stews, plus breads and pickles (such as Ajika – a fiery condiment that we’re told is very addictive but are yet to try!). The provenance and health attributes of the ingredients are critical to the Georgians, which is hugely in keeping with the trends we see on our High Streets and at our tables at home.

Unfortunately, the interest in Georgian cuisine seems to have failed to venture outside of London so far, although there are now a number of highly acclaimed restaurants including Iberia, The Georgian, Little Georgia Café and Mimino to name but a few.  We’re looking forward to seeing more options across the country over 2019/20!

holly and ivy

Before you go on your Christmas break…

The Thread Consultancy team would like to wish all our clients, suppliers and prospects a fabulous Christmas and say a big thank you for either working with us or for us in 2018. We have had another incredibly busy year, which we’ll review upon our “birthday” in February, but in the meantime, eat, drink and be merry!

We’re pleased to say that this year we have donated to Stratford Upon Avon Food Bank – remembering how needing basic food is an essential requirement for some families, as many of us enjoy wonderful hospitality with loved ones this Christmas.

 

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Sustainability focus can now deliver a reduced spend for supplier AND customer

According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2018 State of Restaurant Sustainability report, improving sustainability within foodservice environments can deliver a reduced spend of around 20%. This is a figure now taken more seriously by the financiers and operators. We’ve moved on from changing front of house light bulbs and reducing unnecessary energy use in commercial kitchens to incorporating a responsible approach and a circular economy into production and operations where possible.

Reportedly largely as a result of David Attenborough’s recent documentary series, the ongoing use of plastics, styrofoam and other non-recyclable packaging is out of favour with most of the population. While suitable alternatives are not yet available for everything, cafes and restaurants can do a number of things to support change that can reduce cost for the supplier and consumer alike, such as promote campaigns that offer incentives for using refillable (and often branded) containers, remove single use plastic disposables, talk to suppliers about packaging and transportation options, and increase provision of water fountains and reusable water bottles.

From an equipment perspective, operators can consider their purchases and their ratings with regard to energy efficiency, waste management and water usage, particularly with regard to large items such as refrigerators, dishwashers and low flush toilets. Communicating the changes being made, and the impacts they are having on the local environment can also help to meet one of the customer expectations of recent years – helping consumers to minimise their environmental impact without a significant change to their own personal environment. We think that’s win-win.

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2016 – the year in review

Wow, what a year 2016 has been. Who would have predicted when we celebrated our 1st birthday in February that we’d end the year discussing negotiations for Brexit and Donald Trump’s impending Presidency? To say it’s been surprising is an understatement, but we’ve had plenty of more positive news within Thread!

In addition to being retained by all of 2015’s clients, we were commissioned in the Spring by two major new clients; one in the real estate sector and the other in Higher Education, both of whom have benefitted from unprecedented (by them) cost savings as a result of strategic reviews of their kitchen/front of house facilities and catering contract provision. We have managed one of the largest procurement projects in the Facilities Management sector, including a new contract for a utilities company worth £6 million per year for five years. We’ve also supported a client in the leisure sector tendering for an external contract for the very first time; guiding them through a major procurement process against global competition to reach the final stage of the process. This project delivered a strategic re-positioning and evolution of their brand and values as well as strategic planning and advice during each stage of their response.

We’ve had a new recruit join us – Jayne Gillitt – as our project coordinator, responsible for the coordination of all our KPI monitoring and collation and evaluation of in-house quality audits for one of our major clients.

On top of all that, we have managed to squeeze in 35 of our own quality audits across the country for a variety of clients and have delivered multiple training sessions for their teams as a result!

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Our love of water…

In addition to my personal love of food, some other things are close to my heart including sailing, the coast and Dartmouth in particular. I regularly make a donation to the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) whose volunteer crews are always on call; putting their lives on hold to be ready to save lives at a moment’s notice. As I’m keen on boating, to support them to ensure they have the resources they need to do their work.

This year, donations are going toward funding a new Shannon class lifeboat. As part of the relief fleet, the new Shannon will stand in for other boats that need repairs or maintenance around our coasts, where 22 people are rescued every single day.

lifeboats

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We are one!

Yes that’s right – we are one today! We can hardly believe it’s been a year since Thread began building its own story, but as they say, time flies when you’re having fun!

We have had a brilliant first year, since launching on the 2 February 2015 and would like to say thank you to those clients who have chosen to work with us already, our nine new clients, and a big welcome to those thinking about using us in the future.

We’re quick to build trust and new foundations within our client organisations, and are often treated as part of their team – which is a huge compliment to our people and theirs, and makes working together both enjoyable and productive.

On top of that, since launching a year ago, we’ve saved our three major clients alone a whopping £3.5m!

They’re pretty pleased with us as you might imagine, but we appreciate that it’s their understanding of the importance of continuous investment in catering quality audits, contract performance reviews, catering and soft service procurement and benchmarking, contract renegotiations and training that make our role in finding those efficiencies and improvements for their organisations possible.

In addition to this, we’ve undertaken three major strategic reviews and strategy development exercises with our clients, which will lead into more savings and performance improvement in 2016 and beyond. But we won’t jump the gun, we’ll let the storyline develop and tell you about those next year!

everyone loses a game

Everyone loses games. Few change them.

Believing that the football success philosophy of tackle, pass, score, repeat can be as applicable in dealing with challenges in the catering and soft services worlds, Thread Consultancy now sponsors local junior football team, Norton Lindsey FC.
Investing in the local community and giving back has always been close to MD, Sally Davis’ heart, but seeing her sons enjoying the sport more and more as they grow up, and noting the disciplines and characteristics required to be great sportspeople were similar to those we encourage so much in our work, she was very keen to be involved when the opportunity arose to bring energy and independence (and new shirts!) to the club.
While Norton Lindsey may be the team to beat at the moment, Sally firmly believes you should play like you’re the best, but train like you’re in second place – no bad strategy for pursuing dreams of any kind…