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H&CS delivered on every level, with senior hospitality professionals from independent and small businesses piling through the doors.
H&CS delivered on every level, with senior hospitality professionals from independent and small businesses piling through the doors.

The Hotel & Catering Show 2013 (H&CS) returned to Bournemouth International Centre in style this recently, with a fresh and dynamic clutch of new show features by new owners Evisstar, designed to support and engage hospitality operators in the south of England and across the UK.

H&CS delivered on every level, with senior hospitality professionals from independent and small businesses piling through the doors to meet over 120 exhibitors spread between two halls. A vibrant market-style atmosphere delighted as local suppliers and producers enticed show visitors with tempting tasters of regional delicacies.

Cheese Cellar impressed with the unveiling of Cropwell Bishop's new melt-in-the-mouth blue, Beauvale, as well as offering cuts of 2012 Best New Cheese Award winner Francis, a semi-soft, rind-washed variety by James's Cheese. They teamed this with detailed commentary on each artisan cheese maker represented.

Purbeck Ice Cream and Cider Company, from Wareham in Dorset, rallied similar queues for samples of their unusual, gluten-free ice cream in flavours including Dorset Watercress and Dorset Blue Vinny Cheese. Jessica's Farmhouse Cakes was a crowd-pleaser too, with a spread of handmade cookies, tray bakes and cakes made using high quality raw ingredients.

Other big-name, nationwide suppliers included Villeroy & Boch, Farrow & Ball, Movenpick and MSK Ingredients.

In collaboration with the Craft Guild of Chefs, Chefs' Kitchen saw giants Compass and Sodexo perform in individual chef team "pressure tests", with the brief to plate up outstanding four-course menus on each day of the show for 60 VIP guests including the Mayor of Bournemouth, Councillor Phil Stanley-Watts.

Compered live by development chef Kevin Byrne and judged by Lime Wood head chef Luke Holder, Chewton Glen executive head chef Luke Matthews and Brockenhurst College chef director John McArthur, both teams were praised for their gold standard performances. Compass Group's Eurest team dished up a starter of slow cooked egg with Gruyère, cauliflower and Cambridgeshire leeks and a main course of roast and braised chump of lamb with Lincolnshire kale, celeriac, onions and pan juices. Sodexo wowed with dishes including a main of lamb "three ways", featuring seared rump, slow-cooked breast and lamb and offal pie.

Alongside Chefs' Kitchen,12 practical business seminars delivered free, expert guidance on cutting-edge challenges for today's hospitality operator, including loyalty marketing techniques, food trends analysis, digital strategy and the relevance and role of restaurant ratings systems such as The Good Food Guide, Michelin stars and user-generated review websites like Yelp. Speakers included Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels, Tom Bell, editor of Alistair Sawday's British Hotels & Inns and Sandra Matthews-Marsh, chief executive of Visit Kent.

Delivering a keynote entitled 'Tourism: Holding the reins of economic recovery in the South', on the opening morning of the show, Deirdre Wells OBE, Head of Tourism for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), outlined the government's commitment to supporting tourism in southern England saying: "With 80 per cent of UK tourism coming from the domestic market, it's really important that we all work together [tourism attractions, hotel owners and the government] to create a positive image of the UK, educating consumers about what is on their doorstep and reminding them of what is great about holidaying in Britain.

"Over four years, VisitBritain's international campaign, including GREAT, will invest more than £130 million in inbound tourism to the UK. A £2 million GREAT Britain marketing campaign for the domestic market will launch this autumn to build on the success of the 20.12 per cent 'Holiday at Home' campaign."

Topping off the focus for chefs were culinary heroes including Michelin starred chefs Tom Kerridge, Simon Hulstone, Matt Gillan, Chris Staines, Russell Brown, Hywel Jones and Paul Ainsworth. They drew huge crowds of eager foodies and aspiring chefs to The Staff Canteen LIVE, with their interactive, masterclass-style demonstrations throughout the show. 2009 MasterChef winner Mat Follas also made a guest appearance.

Championing the use of "lesser known fish" on restaurant menus, like lemon sole, two Michelin star chef Nathan Outlaw took the stage to deliver a masterclass in fish, cooking the red mullet dish that he said won him his first Michelin star back in 2004, aged 25, at The Black Pig in Cornwall.

In a live interview with The Staff Canteen's managing director Mark Morris, Outlaw gave sound advice to young chefs wanting to make it in the restaurant industry: "Work for established names and chase work experience opportunities, but be happy there because bad experiences will ruin your enthusiasm for the trade. Buy books, read blogs, use Twitter and Facebook, learn what's going on in the industry and do competitions. You've got to put yourself out there. It took me 10 years of hard work before I became known."

Speaking of the success of this year's H&CS, Richard Joslin, show director, said: "We're overwhelmed with the impact H&CS has had on visitors and the feedback has surpassed expectation. Exhibitors are thrilled with the quality of the buyers walking the aisles and the reaction to our newly-introduced show features like The Staff Canteen LIVE and the seminar programme have been hugely positive. Hospitality operators attend shows like this to leave informed and inspired.

Tradeshows are under-credited for setting and responding to the immediate and future hospitality industry agenda and we've worked really hard this year to design a two-day program that delivers practical, helpful tips and networking opportunities to guide businesses to become more profitable and relevant in the long-term.

"I'd just like to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who was involved this year, from the exhibitors and sponsors, to the speakers and suppliers and of course, the visitors who came out in force to support the show. We look forward to building on this year's success to make H&CS 2014 even better."

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