15 Ways to Cook Healthy-ish In 2016

Chefs like to complicate things: recipes, techniques, their lives. Jeremy Fox isn’t one of those chefs. At least not anymore. Although he was once known for his conceptual dishes at Napa’s groundbreaking vegetarian restaurant Ubuntu, his menu at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar in Santa Monica reflects the 180 he’s taken. “Great food isn’t hypercreative,” he says. “It’s just good.” Fox’s rules are ones everyone can—and should—follow. He shops locally, cooks seasonally, eschews extra garnishes. Simply put, he keeps it simple. “I always wanted to do more straightforward food,” he admits. He might have earned a Michelin star for some wayyyy out-there food, but it’s his earth-bound techniques that are inspiring us to eat in. Here’s how to cook like the fantastic Mr. Fox.

1. Soak It Up

Buy good grains and always soak them. They’ll cook more quickly and evenly when hydrated, and the soaking liquid can be used in finished dishes. You might have to special-order the visually striking black barley that Fox favors, but that’s the hardest part of making this dish (if you consider two mouse clicks hard).

2. “If the broth is good, the beans will be good.”

Anyone can cook a bean: Simmer till done. But for a truly transcendent pot of beans, a bean you could base a meal around, the secret is in the broth. When your beans are tender, take them off the heat and focus on the cooking liquid, doctoring it with good olive oil, salt, and pepper, tasting and seasoning it until the liquid itself is straight-up delicious. How will you know when it’s done? “Make a broth you’d want to eat,” Fox says.
Add a handful of greens and an egg, and you’ve got dinner.

3. Trim Your Tool Kit

Everyone in the Rustic Canyon kitchen keeps their tools organized on a rimmed sheet tray. And, unlike what’s in your junked-up kitchen drawer, everything is actually used. Here’s how Fox pares it down to the essentials.

4. Taste (and Season) as You Go

Fox keeps a couple dozen demitasse spoons in front of him at work and uses them to dip into everything on the stove to check things as they cook. You don’t need several, just one. The point is: Taste as you go. This is absolutely the most foolproof way to make sure your food is delicious—and if it’s not, it allows you to adjust before it’s done.

5. Even the Towel Matters

Fox is particular about how his cooks fold their side towels. “If a cook’s not folding his towel right,” Fox says, “he might be cutting corners elsewhere.” They’re used as pot holders, to wipe cutting boards, to anchor a mixing bowl—and draped over the corner of a pan to signal that it’s hot. This is how to earn his approval:

1. With the hem side facing up, fold towel in half; align corners. 2. Fold in half again to create a square. 3. And then in half again to create a tidy rectangle.

6. That Sweet-Salty Thing Never Gets Old

Fox ain’t above a party nut. These sugary, salty, fatty almonds are how diners can begin a meal at Rustic Canyon (and they’re the only recipe Fox kept from Ubuntu). Thanks to a tactical addition of lavender, your guests will actually talk about them.

7. Find Your Whey

There’s lots of whey (it’s a by-product from making fresh ricotta) at Rustic Canyon. The cooks use it to simmer polenta, as a braising liquid for meat, and in place of egg whites in frothy cocktails. Lucky for you, it’s something more and more cheese shops and specialty grocers now carry. Think of it as your new probiotic-filled vegetarian broth.

8. Be a Bookworm

A classic cookbook should be your sous-chef. On Fox’s shelf: Le Pigeon, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Tartine Book No. 3, The Babbo Cookbook, and Paul Bertolli’s Cooking by Hand, which Fox credits with teaching him the art of bottom-up cooking. “My copy is covered with fat, blood, and grease,” he says. As it should be.

9. (Chicken) Fat Is Your Friend

What sets Fox’s roast chicken apart from all others? It’s not the brine or the harissa rub, though both add a ton of flavor. The real magic is in the pool of schmaltz sizzling in the pan. Schmaltz, a.k.a. rendered chicken fat, isn’t a neutral oil—and that’s a good thing. It’s infused with chicken essence, and when the bird and its drippings get together, they form a kind of flavor symbiosis that’s key to the juiciest, most finger-licking bird of all time. And the spice-infused fat left in the pan afterward? You can use that, too.

10. Make Your Own

The Rustic Canyon walk-in is filled with crazy condiments like fermented mustard, sorrel kimchi, and preserved limes. Cool. But why should you prepare your own flavor boosters? Spend some time making one of these, and you’ll have an easy, fast way to add nuanced flavor. “They lend depth and complexity that come from time,” says Fox. Use garlic confit in your next aglio e olio pasta; spoon some Calabrian chile butter over a pork chop during the last minute of cooking; serve roasted salmon with a dollop of aioli; add harissa to your next tomato sauce. And on and on.


WATG Hospitality Trends Forecast 2017

WATG have been breaking ground in hotel design for over 70 years, designing some of the most innovative and award-winning destinations around the globe. With a finger firmly on the pulse, WATG Trend Forecaster Muriel Muirden has rounded up the top trends that will be shaping the travel and hospitality industry in 2017.


Barraged by social media and endless decisions, we are increasingly seeking a respite from the pressures of modern life. The hospitality sector is responding to this desire with a host of less-is-more models including menu free dining and the rise of wilderness experiences in heretofore un-trespassed destinations, which offer total immersion and digital disconnection. We will also see the emergence of summer camps for grownups, offering lonely millennials a break from ‘adulting’.


The hospitality sector will continue to increasingly apply data and science to help guests to be more efficient and sleep better during their stays. 2017 will see a prominent rise of travel-oriented apps aiding us to experience the smoothest of stays as guests, from monitoring the queue at the breakfast buffet to digitally controlling the ambiance of our rooms. Hotels are also predicted to engage with the functionality of sleep apps and wearables by going beyond blackout shades to design rooms incorporating creative solutions like sound and lighting technology and sensitive wake up tools and techniques.


A preoccupation with mindfulness and wellness will see the rise of ‘Feel good hotels’, jumping on the fitness bandwagon by offering bespoke classes and exercise mashups. We’ll see hotels committing to cultural and environmental conservation by using locally sourced vendors and employing indigenous people. ‘Edible resorts’ with micro-gardens, olive groves and vineyards are on the rise alongside a return to resorts anchored in eco-agriculture and ambitious village nature concepts.


Legalised recreational marijuana, nearly a $40 billion industry, has brought cannabis tourism to the United States and we predict the evolution of cannabis-friendly accommodations will boom in the coming years. And while plenty of hotels currently allow pets, we’ll see an even greater evolution of top notch pet-friendly programs with amenities including plush beds, food bowls, dedicated dog parks and concierge lists.


The liquor industry is experiencing 3 seismic changes

Whether you prefer whiskey, vodka, gin, or rum, you may have noticed some recent shifts in the liquor business.

In an international, incredibly broad industry, it’s hard to know which trends are causing seismic shifts, and which are just blips on the radar.

So, Business Insider turned to Gilles Bogaert, CFO of Pernod Ricard, the parent company of brands including Absolut and Jameson.

Here are three trends you need to know about that Bogaert believes are truly changing the liquor industry:

1. ‘Home-tainment’ is a new way to drink.
While restaurants and bars have historically dominated the spirits market, Bogaert says that in 2016, the focus is on discovering new moments in which consumers are drinking.

“At the end of the day, we aim to accompany the good moments of life with consumers,” says Bogaert. “People, more and more, want to have good moments with their friends at home.”

In the US and Europe, the shift is part of a growing movement to blur the line between entertaining at home and going out. In some emerging markets, concerns regarding safety are additionally helping drive at-home drinking culture.
For Pernod Ricard, the challenge goes beyond providing the correct beverages for the opportunity.

Succeeding in “home-tainment” means “not only bringing our bottles there,” says Bogaert. The company is looking into helping organize parties and using social media as a medium to share photos from moments spent entertaining at home.

2. Consumers are getting more savvy.
In recent years, sales of Pernod Ricard’s Absolut Vodka has dropped in the US, while Jameson Irish Whiskey has thrived. The reason for one brand’s slump and the others’ success is, according to Bogaert, how customers interpret the authenticity of the two brands.

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Pernod Ricard

While Jameson’s Irish heritage has been front-and-center, Bogaert acknowledges that Absolut’s marketing in the US got “maybe too emotional,” losing its focus on the actual quality of the product.

Now, the company is refusing to make the same mistake again.

So, instead of releasing new, out-there flavored vodkas and whiskeys, the company is promoting authenticity and quality. Absolut recently release ‘Oak by Absolut,’ vodka made in oak barrels, as well as Absolut Elyx, a “handcrafted luxury” vodka. In October, the vodka brand revamped its bottle branding for the first time it debuted in 1979 to emphasize its authenticity, heritage, and quality.

The quest for authenticity also shaping acquisitions. In late January, Pernod Ricard acquired a majority stake in “hipster-favorite” Monkey 47 gin, despite already owning mainstream gin brands Beefeater and Seagram’s.

“If we want to recruit the new consumers, millennials, we need to adjust a few things in our ways of working,” says Bogaert. “We have a fantastic starting point… all of our brands have a strong heritage and history. Absolut is coming from Sweden — it isn’t coming from just anywhere.”

3. E-commerce is essential.
When asked what he thinks is the top change shaping the liquor industry today, Bogaert had a surprising answer.

“The digital revolution,” he says. “It fundamentally changes the way we interact with the consumer, it changes the way marketing is done, and it can bring us a competitive advantage if we move ahead of the others”

In the next seven to eight years, Bogaert says that Pernod Ricard hopes that 5% of all sales will be through digital channels. The company already has its own digital platforms selling brands in countries including the UK and France, and is utilizing relationships with ecommerce giants like Amazon to further grow sales.

More immediately, social media and online marketing give the company a direct line to customers. Pernod Ricard can quickly respond to consumer habits and concerns, as well as meeting consumers where they already are. That, according to Bogaert, is an even bigger shift than any drinker’s preference for whiskey or vodka.


6 Mega-Trends in Hotel Technology

Technology has become critical to attracting and retaining hotel guests, and today that means investing in a wide range of solutions that create immediate and personal engagement. With rising expectations, surprise and delight has been replaced by expected and assumed. Reservations must be easily made via any smart device, guestrooms must facilitate any type of content, networks need to be rock-solid, and data is now your most valuable asset.

To meet escalating guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology this year, according to HT’s 2016 Lodging Technology Study. Their biggest priorities for technology spending, in order, are: payment security, guest room tech, bandwidth, and mobile engagement (see fig. 1 below).

Mobile solutions in particular will dominate the list of capital investments this year — six of the top new rollouts have a mobile component, ranging from mobile keys, to mobile payments, to location-based technology (see fig. 2 below). Also high on to-do lists are improving data accessibility and security.

In this mega-trends special report, Hospitality Technology pulls together data from its 2016 Lodging Technology Study, combined with insight from industry thought leaders and hoteliers, to find more about out what’s shaping technology spending today.


1) Mobile ubiquity. “Drop the expectation that we have offline and online customers,” counselled travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt at HTNG’s 2016 North American Conference in March. Harteveldt, a former Forrester analyst, recently founded Atmosphere Research Group ( and is arguably one of the world’s most sought-after travel industry advisors. “Mobile has produced a permanent sense of immediacy. It’s changing forever how our guests interact with us and how they expect us to interact with them.”

Indeed — from mobile bookings, to check-in options, to room access — mobile dominates the list of top new technology rollouts in 2016. Hotel-branded customer mobile apps are poised for ubiquity, with 84% of operators planning to have the technology within the next 18 months. In the same time frame, about one quarter of hotels plan to deploy mobile keys.

In addition to simplicity for guests, mobile room access can make financial sense. For Village Hotels (, a UK brand with 28 properties attached to large gyms, mobile check-in and mobile key were added for financial reasons. The brand’s hetras ( cloud-based property management system interfaces with a mobile key system from Kaba (

According to Rob Paterson, commercial director for Village Hotels, the brand was seeking to align its four-star costs with its three-star status. Village Hotels that offer mobile check-in/keys or kiosks are operating more efficiently, with no lines, Paterson says; the rest will rollout weekly this year. Village has found that “pre-arrival communication is pretty important to explain the whole process, because it’s not common today,” says Paterson, along with on-property signage. Security is actually enhanced because the hotel has more info on the guest possessing the key, he adds, and ensuring payment pre-arrival is essential.

2. Integrating mobile data. Hotels have long amassed data but underused it. Data is the most valuable asset for many brands, and tapping into it will be a priority to deliver the personalization that travelers want. “If guests don’t find what they want from you and you aren’t leveraging your data in the right way to serve them, they will move onto a competitor,” says Harteveldt. Mobile technology is exponentially increasing those data inputs.

Nearly 80% of all data today already has a location-based element, according to The Location Based Marketing Association (LMBA; “Location has become the new ‘cookie’,” says LMBA founder and president Asif R. Khan. According to HT research, 30% of hotels plan to roll out location-based technology in 2016. Using mobile data together with reservation information from the PMS has helped Fontainebleau Miami ( upsell guests through pre-arrival and checkout offers, enabling the resort to optimize room revenue by inviting guests to arrive early or stay late for an additional fee. According to the resorts’ mobile check-in provider StayNTouch (, 20% to 40% of guests select mobile check-in, and the resort saw a 141% ROI from late checkout offers in the first 30 days. Balancing early check-ins against actual arrival times also helps hotels better manage room availability, the solution provider says.

3. Enabling guestroom tech. Once a technology playground of on-demand content and flat screen TVs, the guestroom has become a challenging area for hotel technology. More than half of hotels (56%) say that guestroom technology upgrades will be a priority this year. The most activity inside the guestroom will be to boost bandwidth — 36% of hotels have allocated resources for this in 2016—in order to support the content and devices that guests are carrying with them. Hoteliers are also investing in delivery platforms to elevate the in-room experience and catch up to what guests have at home. That means bigger, better TVs that interface easily with guest mobile devices for a great viewing experience, says Mike Blake, CEO, HTNG ( About one in four hotels will upgrade flat screens and enhance their HD content.

4. Future-proofing networks. With guests sporting their own mobile devices, delivering standout guest room and mobile experiences is now about delivering robust, secure and accessible infrastructure. “The number one thing guests want is for their WiFi to work,” according to HTNG’s Blake. Hoteliers are increasing their coverage and updating their networks to accommodate these demands—adding bandwidth will be a top priority for 45% of hotels in 2016, and it’s tied for first place as the largest budget line item (along with property management systems).

Fiber, or passive optical LAN, is quickly becoming the standard for new builds and retrofits, either all the way to the room or as part of fiber/copper hybrid networks. According to Corning ( and VT Group (, rather than running new cabling every four to five years, hotels can tap fiber’s high capacity to install once and gain huge increases in capacity and reach, since unlike copper, bandwidth is unlimited and does not degrade over distance. A single fiber optic cable can replace separate wiring for WiFi and cellular backhaul, building controls and triple-play networks, freeing up space and increasing performance while enabling parallel redundancy.

At Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (, vice president of technology David Heckaman and his colleagues considered multiple hybrid networking models for the one to two construction projects the brand undertakes each year, but found fiber to the room was equal or lower cost across geographies. “Fiber used to be expensive to terminate, but it has come down in price and is much simpler to terminate now than copper,” particularly with the availability of pre-terminated wiring closets, Heckaman says. With the need for as many as eight ports per room, Mandarin Oriental worked with Corning to select dedicated active switches for each room, while other hotels choose in-room access points as the switch. “Our goal across the brand is to make sure from an infrastructure standpoint that we always leave the bandwidth chokepoint at the back door, at the hand-off to the ISP,” says Heckaman.

Another factor supporting fiber is that no one wants to log into WiFi just to open their door. VT Group’s hotel clients are increasingly investing in DAS solutions such as Corning’s fiber for in-building cellular. Mandarin Oriental also sees fiber as providing the infrastructure to support future use of small/microcell designs and help the brand keep up with evolving cellular network technology.

5. Beefing up security. With hackers becoming increasingly sophisticated and a recent rise in crypto-ransomware attacks, “people’s attitudes toward security are totally changed, and this area is highly funded,” says HTNG’s Blake. Security is garnering investment particularly as payment becomes increasingly mobile and new non-bank payment vehicles emerge. Providing for more secure payments and data is the top objective driving technology investments for the hotels in HT’s study. It’ll receive about 12% of overall IT budgets this year, which is a 25% budget increase over the year prior. Guest privacy in general is a growing challenge with the addition of mobile and social channels, and the increasing sophistication of data piracy is drawing increased investment in intrusion detection and prevention.

6. Energy conservation. Among capital IT rollouts planned for 2016, 20% of operators plan to focus on energy management. For most hotels, energy is among the top three largest costs, so efficiency efforts are an attractive proposition in order to yield financial savings. Intelligent technologies are helping hotels monitor and report on energy consumption. At the end of 2015, Hilton Worldwide ( became the first hotel company to achieve Superior Energy Performance certification from the Department of Energy for energy management at three properties.

Hilton has deployed its proprietary measurement platform, LightStay, across 4,500+ hotels. By gathering data from across its global portfolio, the company is able to analyze how hotels are managing energy performance and drive improvements. In addition to energy, the company has set targets in the areas of water conservation, waste diversion and carbon reduction.

Interel ( nabbed its second TechOvation award from HTNG for its TCP/IP-based Water Management System. In addition to giving guests instant control over water flow and temperature, the system is IoT and big data-enabled to deliver monitoring, while creating usage and consumption statistics that help to optimize settings. The ability to program water control settings, including an “eco” mode that automatically engages energy-efficient settings, provides operators with savings, leading to ROI.

The Future is Now: 5 Next-Gen Technologies with Value Today

Already seeing some use, these five technologies are likely to garner more share of the IT budget as operators find value in customer engagement and ROI.

IoT – Hospitality use of Internet of Things technology can already be seen in Disney’s MagicBands and guest room control systems, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. IoT will expand to enhance both guest experience and operations efficiency in everything from deploying staff where guests are congregating to preventing equipment breakdowns. On exhibit at CES this year, for example, was a sensor that measured UV risk at its specific location and advised when to reapply sun-screen; imagine this sensor embedded into a hotel pool chair.

Wireless charging. Already 41% of properties offer in-room charging stations, but charging is going wireless, such as Kube Systems ( chargers using the Qi standard in 29 Marriott lobbies. The next generation is longer-range wireless charging such as TechNovator’s ( XE, which uses resonant electromagnetic fields to charge multiple phones with special cases up to 17 feet away.

Virtual reality. Last Fall Marriott piloted a virtual reality headsets program at two properties that enabled guests to take virtual trips to exotic locations. HTNG’s Blake envisions using VR glasses and apps to enable prospective guests to tour conference spaces and guest rooms. In HT’s study, 14% of hoteliers said they think personal holograms have real-world potential as property concierges/guides.

Robotics. A robot as the hotel mascot? It’s already happening, and in fact 22% of hotels in HT’s study said robots have real potential in this industry. Relay robotic concierge from Savioke ( was named first runner-up “Most Innovative Hospitality Technology” at HTNG’s 2016 TechOvation Awards. Relay autonomously delivers amenities to guest rooms, and the technology is already being used at select Aloft Hotels ( In a similar move, Hilton Worldwide ( has teamed with IBM ( to pilot its robot concierge, “Connie.” Connie uses cognitive technology to process information as it interacts with guests, enabling it to adapt and improve recommendations as it learns.

Interactive walls. Gesture-controlled, interactive walls received 36% of respondents’ votes for futuristic technology most likely to take hold. The Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel (, which is set to open in the spring of 2016, will feature interactive digital displays created by Montreal-based digital design firm Réalisations Inc. ( in public spaces. Using a variety of technology including motion detectors, projectors and 3D cameras, the firm created a “living” wall that will interact with guests and respond to their movement.


Colour-Changing Cocktails

Disco Sour, Restaurant 492

As explored in Food & Colour: Visualising Flavour, the food and beverage landscape is benefiting from experimental and compelling colour applications that are helping to elevate dining and drinking experiences to new sensorial heights.

Wine, in particular, is enjoying a multi-hued moment as product developers look beyond traditional white, red and rose iterations. See Alcohol Trends 2016 for insights into orange wine – a variety becoming increasingly popular for its light and refreshing taste delivery – as well as Blue Wine, a Spanish variety that uses indigo pigments to create a visually arresting product.

Bringing creative colour treatment to the world of mixology, South Carolina-based restaurant 492 has invented the Disco Sour – a cocktail that changes colour from pale yellow to deep violet. Dubbed by the restaurant as a “magical mood-ring ingredient”, butterfly pea flower (a bright blue flower native to Asia) is used to catalyse the colour transformation as it slowly bleeds its blue-toned ink into the beverage. Lemon juice can also be added to trigger a purplish tone.

Appealing to consumers’ desire for culinary drama, similar applications have been seen in other food categories. See Colour-Changing Ice Cream and Holographic Chocolate. These concepts are all focused on eliciting surprise and delight for thrill-seeking ‘culinary explorers’. See Nightlife Eats for more on bar and after-dark leisure culture.

For further insights into culinary experimentation using science and materiality, see Food & Materials: New Edible Forms. For more on current mixology trends in the at-home and on-the-go markets, see DIY Mixology.


The Top 10 Predicted Wine And Beer Trends of 2015

It’s the beginning of the new year and you know what that means: New food trends are just beyond our gourmet grocery store’s horizon. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Culinary Forecast, locally sourced meats and seafood landed in the top spot in this year’s food trends. And obviously, you’ll want to wash down those sizzling steaks and shrimp with some trendy alcoholic beverages. So here are the top 10 predicted wine and beer trends for 2015.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) crowned micro-distilled/artisan spirits as the top trend of the New Year. Micro-distilled or artisan spirits are liquors that use local ingredients that give the alcohol an unique flavor. Think of it like the craft beer version of hard liquor.
Top Ten Predicted Wine And Beer Trends of 2015

The number of artisan distilleries in the U.S. has exploded, increasing 30 percent a year. According to the American Distilling Institute (ADI), in 2005 there were only 50 craft distillers compared to the over 600 in 2013. So it’s no surprise that artisan spirits are the next big thing to hit the drinking scene. Major alcohol companies are expected to purchase craft distillers, wineries, breweries and brands to stay on top of the rising trend.
The NRA named locally produced booze the second top trend for 2015. As people continue to prefer their food fresh from the farm and locally produced, it only makes sense they want the same for their alcohol.

Barrel-Aged Drinks
Barrel-aged drinks also ranked high on the NRA alcohol trend list. New York, Portland and San Francisco bars are the leading the pack with this movement. To make a barrel-aged drink, a bartender uses a process called “batching” where they mix up several gallons of cocktail and funnel it into an oak barrel. They set the liquor in a dark area, usually the basement of the bar and wait months until they decide the aged alcohol is ready. Over the months, the alcohol is absorbed from the wood, soaking up its color and flavors.

Session Beers
Craft beers will continue to reign over Budweisers. However, craft brewers will stop focusing on IPAs, which get people drunker faster because of its higher alcohol content. Perfect for Super Bowl Sunday, you will be able to sip more with session beers that contain less alcohol, typically no more than five percent. Even though they skimp on the alcohol, they don’t on taste. They taste well with chips, wings and pizza. Try Founders Brewing Co.’s All Day IPA, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Nooner Pilsner or Lagunitas Brewing Co.’s DayTime seasonal beers.

Craft Rums
Pappy Van Winkle was really popular in 2014, but the American craft whisky trend was so last year. Craft rums will be the next big trend of the year among spirit connoisseurs. According to the ADI, Balcones Texas Rum was crowned “category defining” in a 2013 competition. The aged rum is made from molasses in oak barrels and is only available in the U.S.

Portable Wine
So wine in a can wasn’t as appealing to Millennials as companies hoped it would be, but portable wine is expected to make a splash in 2015. There is the company Zipz that received the biggest deal in Shark Tank history when it got $2.5 million. Other portable wine options include Stack Wines and W1ne for One.

Tequila For Millennials
Speaking of Millennials, if they are looking for a party then tequila should be the drink of choice. Celebs like Iggy Azalea and Usher are proudly announcing their love for the drink, and with lots of songs saluting shots, tequila is most commonly associated with a fun, but wild time. There will be more high-end options expected to hit the market for those who have more sophisticated taste.

Healthy” Alcohol
Low-calorie wine brands are expected to do well this year. Some bars may start adding calorie counts to their menus, meaning they could create cocktails minus the extra sugar. Organic wine, beer and cider will also continue to rise in popularity, especially since organic vodka, gin, liqueurs, whiskey, tequila and rum are now available.

Wine Country
Surprisingly, Virginia is predicted to be the next go-to region for wine. New Jersey and Texas are also up-in-coming wine regions. And will it be white or red this year? White wines like Assyrtiko from Santorini, Greece will be the must-drink summer sipper.

Flavor of the Year
According to the Swiss flavor maker Firmenich, the annual Flavor of the Year has been announced. 2015 will officially be the year of honey-flavored liquor. Try Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey or add pure honey when mixing up cocktails at home.


Honey beer brand Beehive Brae gains new listing across Scotland

BB-smlHoney beer brand Beehive Brae has secured a new listing in Aldi’s 67 stores throughout Scotland as part of a major summer promotional drive.

The addition of Aldi as a stockist will bring Beehive Brae’s full-bodied, artisan blonde beer to the attention of craft beer lovers across Scotland. Every bottle of Beehive Brae Honey Beer is brewed “for the betterment of bees”, with parent company Plan Bee driving the growing movement to protect and preserve Britain’s dwindling honey bee populations.

Aldi is the first major outlet to seize upon Beehive Brae, after Plan Bee came to the company’s attention through their Next Top Product competition, in which the sustainability businesses Origin Honey was also a finalist.

It is the culmination of a two-year journey for Plan Bee, which established its craft brewery following a successful crowdfunding project in 2014.

Plan Bee CEO Warren Bader said: “Honey bees are responsible for pollinating a third of the food that we eat, yet we have allowed their numbers to dramatically decline in recent years. This is more than just stocking another beer, but because our honey beer is brewed for the betterment of bees, this is a sustainability statement. We’re delighted to be working with a major brand like Aldi and look forward to sharing in the success of this summer promotion.”

And Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “Plan Bee is a fine example of how a company can utilise crowdfunding to enable success. Craft beer is hugely popular, and having Plan Bee’s own label honey beer stocked in 67 Aldi stores across the country is good news.

“The company is highly innovative and has helped organisations, including a number of our members, improve green credentials and commitment to the environment, while emphasising the importance of supporting a honeybee population that has been in worrying decline.”


EHL Ingredients’ spice blends tap into Mexican food trend

mexican1220EHL Ingredients has added two new Mexican spice blends to its portfolio, tapping into the burgeoning market for the Central American cuisine.

The first is a fiery Mexican marinade, described as a spicy mix of Mexican ancho chillies, cumin, oregano and garlic that creates plenty of heat while retaining savoury flavours to perfectly complement the meats and vegetables used in Mexican dishes. The marinade takes just ten minutes to prepare and gives chicken wings and pork belly strips a simple and strong flavour for consumers looking for a hot and spicy dish, the British company said.

The second blend is a sweet chipotle and lime burger seasoning, with a medium heat that is balanced with spice, tangy lime and subtle sweetness to pack a powerful Mexican punch in traditional burger recipes.

The pair have been introduced after growth in the popularity of Mexican cuisine, which has become the most commonly experimented with food culture in UK homes.

EHL Ingredients sales director Christine Peers said: “Mexican food continues to be popular in the UK within the restaurant and casual dining sectors, in takeaway, in retail ready meals and kits as well as in at-home cooking. Sales of our existing Mexican blends are increasing as well as single spices and chillies of various strengths so we wanted to offer food manufacturers an extra hot blend as well as burger seasoning to tap into consumer trends and demand.

“The Mexican food market is highly competitive within both the retail and foodservice sectors. We understand that manufacturers have to work hard to create successful products and innovate to maintain customer interest. We work with many leading companies to provide our natural herbs, spices and seasonings and can even work with product development teams to develop custom blends or organic varieties of any of our Mexican seasonings, depending on heat strength and taste requirements. We pride ourselves on offering unique spice blends and seasonings and our established Mexican varieties have proven popular and successful year on year.

“Our herbs, spices, marinades and seasonings are all sourced from reliable and approved Mexican suppliers, bringing authentic flavours to dishes and meals for foodservice outlets and supermarket shelves.”


Naked Marshmallow founders create new line of space lollipops

IMG_1192The founders of Naked Marshmallow have started a new confectionery company – and will start production with the launch of a new range of lollipops, designed to look like planets.

Marvellous Confections has already taken pre-orders for the new range of lollipops, which are available in a set of eight for a price of £15. The individually wrapped sweets are made using sugar, liquid glucose, water, natural flavouring, natural colouring and edible glitter – as well as a “top secret technique”.

They are available in watermelon, black cherry, banana, chocolate, cola, cream soda, candy floss and bubble gum flavours.

In addition to the lollipops, the new brand has developed a line of “moon rock” – an edible sugar confection made to look like pieces of the moon and available in vanilla, caramel and raspberry flavours with a price of £10 per tin. The quirky treat provides an ideal option for gifting, Marvellous Confections said, with a six-month shelf-life and plans to further grow the brand through product development.

These are just a taste of what’s to come under the Marvellous brand,” Naked Marshmallow co-founder Joseph Colson told FoodBev.

“The reason for placing these under a new company is because we felt the new products we have planned would dilute the marshmallow brand. We want to concentrate Naked Marshmallow on reinventing marshmallows and products around our marshmallows.

“The new company is for reinventing confectionery, and lollipops are just the start. We’ve let our imaginations go wild on creating wonderful new products under this brand and can’t wait to share our creations with everyone.”


What’s trending? Innovations spotted at Seeds & Chips, Milan

The future of food has been the most talked about topic this year. International Summit, Seeds & Chips, based in Milan, Italy, is right at the forefront of the conversation, showcasing what’s next in food tech innovation from farm to fork. Hundreds of start-ups, companies in food and tech, investors, thought leaders and policymakers come together to share content and visions, projects and experiences.

Running from 11–14 May, Seeds & Chips is currently in full flow, exploring the world of food tech, ag tech and the “internet of food”. Follow our coverage of the event on our Twitter channel using the hashtag #SaC16.

In the meantime, we’ve highlighted three innovations in the food tech space working to provide environmentally friendly and original solutions.

Founded in 2014, Solari is a start-up that has launched the next generation of portable solar cookers. Inspired by their love of the outdoor and passion for the environment, co-founders and designers Bodin Hon and Kevin Johnson created Solari in response to a gap in the market.

Solari works in the same way as a crock pot and the team claims it can cook “virtually anything” using only energy captured from sunlight. This means the cooker is fuel-free and also pollution-free. It’s a perfect piece of kit for outdoor lovers and food enthusiasts alike and is an original innovation which makes use of solar energy, a hugely untapped energy resource.

Natural Machines


Founded in 2012, Natural Machines is a company leading the 3D printing revolution in food. They’ve recently launched Foodini, a 3D food printer that looks to change our vision of home cooking. Claiming to be “the first 3D food printer kitchen appliance to contribute to a healthy eating lifestyle”, Foodini is an IoT kitchen appliance that uses fresh ingredients, which the user prepares at home, to create meals and elaborate edible creations.

The aim of the Foodini is to “streamline some of cooking’s more [repetitive] activities such as forming dough into a dozen breadsticks, or filling and forming individual ravioli”. It does not cook food but rather “assembles” different food components. The team hope that by having this “sous chef” to hand it will encourage home cookers to be more creative with their food and eat more healthily.



Viveat is a packaging company with a difference. Based in Italy, this company is championing smart packaging in the food and beverage sector and is helping companies explore the realms and capabilities of this digital space.

The company was created in 2014 after its founder Marcello Gamberale Paoletti, realised “that customer expectations are now higher than they have ever been”. The rise of smartphones and internet connected objects meant that the rest of the world had to catch up or be left behind.

Viveat has recently launched Viveat Wine, a smart tag that can be placed onto wine bottles to enable consumers to digitally engage with the wine, learn new information, and share their experience and search for other drinks in a range.